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Lemonade Day Alaska

Making leaders out of lemons


Ryan and Taylor’s Lemonade Day stand at the Red Apple in Anchorage in 2013.

Photo courtesy of Lemonade Day Alaska

Growing up from a child to a responsible adult is one of the most exciting and even challenging transformations in life. Many people remember their first attempt at making their own money by mowing lawns or washing cars. The age old children’s business endeavor of opening up a lemonade stand is brought to the forefront with more than just money on the mind.

“Lemonade Day is a program spread out over several weeks where kids are learning about budgeting, marketing, giving back to the community, and saving for their future,” says Wells Fargo Community Affairs Officer Dana Rogers.

Lemonade Day Alaska has grown since its inception in 2011 from 941 registered kids, offered only in Anchorage, to 3,225 registered children statewide in 2013. This year, Lemonade Day Alaska is Saturday, June 14. Registration began in April online at alaska.lemonadeday.org. Backpacks with program materials are picked up at sponsoring organizations once registered.

“Last year, 79 percent of the kids chose to donate a portion of their earnings to a charity, and 52 percent decided to open up or deposit money into a savings account, so the lessons are definitely getting through to the kids,” says Lemonade Day Development Coordinator Sam Callen.


Continued Growth

Lemonade Day Alaska was started 2011 in Anchorage by the University of Alaska Center for Economic Development. The first year saw a total of $149,000 in revenue from 941 kids with lemonade stands. The number of registered kids more than doubled the next year to 2,536, and the UA Center for Economic Development saw the total revenue nearly double to $287,000. Extending Lemonade Day to have a statewide reach caused the major shift in 2012. The latest statistics show continued growth with more than 3,000 kids and total revenue of $419,000 last year.

Numbers show that participation by Alaskan kids is growing and that they are learning positive life lessons, but none of it would be possible without the multitude of organizations that volunteer time and money to the project.

Expanding the Lemonade Day program into smaller communities outside of Anchorage was typically led by city employees, teachers, and members of local chambers or nonprofit groups. In one community, a real estate agent became the Lemonade Day Alaska organizer, says Lemonade Day Program Coordinator Natasha Callen. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone from an organization. If you want to bring Lemonade Day to your community, we can help.”

Last year nearly twenty communities participated; that number is expected to grow this year.


Volunteer Driven

Wells Fargo donated $25,000 this year to Lemonade Day Alaska, the lead sponsor for the program. The money goes to keep Lemonade Day participation free for all students by providing backpacks, workbooks, and materials. Additionally, the money is spent on administrative and marketing costs.

Volunteer businesses also play a major role in making Lemonade Day a successful learning tool and community involvement program.

“When it comes to Lemonade Day across the country, a program of this scope doesn’t exist,” says Sam Callen. “To cover the number of different communities and the geographic distribution that we have is a testament to all the volunteers that we have working on the program.”

Wells Fargo and other banks or credit unions, along with companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s, participate as volunteers by providing workshops for kids that want to learn the skills necessary in building a successful lemonade stand. Wells Fargo offers money saving workshops and Home Depot and Lowe’s donate wood and offer stand-building workshops.

“One of our goals is that we inspire some future Wells Fargo bankers,” says Rogers, “making sure that they appreciate the value of the dollar and saving it for the future.”



Business Participation

Any business has the chance to volunteer by hosting a lemonade stand at their place of business, Natasha Callen says. Managers and owners of businesses across the state may add their store, restaurant, or business in any industry to the hosting list. If a youth decides they want that store or restaurant, the kids and their guardian talk to the business directly.

“Finding a stand location is one important entrepreneurial lesson for Lemonade Day, so we step back and let the kids take over,” Natasha Callen says.

Tiffany McMonigle and her two sons, Ryan and Taylor, ages thirteen and eight, placed their lemonade stand in front of Red Apple Market in Anchorage and saw a great increase in traffic after moving their stand from a neighborhood to a business.

Lemonade Day Alaska spans all sectors of the community and the state. Nonprofits, schools, churches, government entities, chambers of commerce, small businesses, and corporations all play a role in “empowering today’s youth to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” Sam Callen says. “From the most remote parts of Alaska, villages to cities are having Lemonade Day.”

Russ Slaten is the Associate Editor for Alaska Business Monthly.

This first appeared in the May 2014 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.
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