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Ohio State camp teaches high schoolers business, personal finance skills

University partners with My Brother’s Keeper, Columbus on program

Through a partnership with the city of Columbus Department of Neighborhoods, The Ohio State University hosted the second annual My Brother’s Keeper Business Camp on the Columbus campus June 26-30. The residential camp, called Taking Care of Business, brought 40 high school students to campus to learn about business and experience college life.

“They get introduced to every basic area in business through our professors,” said Cynthia Turner, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the Fisher College of Business and organizer of the camp. “We have professors who come in and teach classes in finance, accounting and marketing.”

Students developed pitches to expand the My Brother’s Keeper Business Camp to a year-round program.This year’s camp focused on the business of sports. In addition to Fisher faculty, guest speakers included business professionals from around the country who assist athletes and sports teams with financial planning, accounting and branding. The students also took a field trip to Lower.com Field, the Columbus Crew’s downtown soccer stadium, and spoke to office personnel who manage the team’s marketing and social media.

“The goal is to introduce them to careers in business through the lens of sports,” Turner said. “We understand that with every athlete, with every entertainer, they have a team of folks (behind the scenes) that do well and make good money and that’s their profession.”

Business professionals not only shared their expertise with the students, but also offered insights about their career paths.  

With every speaker, we also have them share their story of how they got there so the students understand that it’s hard work sometimes and not everything is just given to you,” said Tai Johnson, a Fisher diversity, equity and inclusion academic outreach specialist who also administers the camp. “Life does take multiple twists and turns. We have different ways of going about achieving your goals other than the way you thought it was going to be.”

Students also learned about personal finance and money management through sessions with certified public accountants and banking professionals. The objective is to equip students with everyday life skills while raising their awareness of business principles, said Kyle Strickland, a compliance specialist with Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and director of My Brother’s Keeper Ohio.

“We are here to say, ‘How do we help you reach your dreams? How do we help you obtain those possibilities?’” Strickland said. “We have to do our part to ensure that everybody has access to resources and everybody can achieve their dreams, no matter what the barriers are, because we have people that come together.” 

During their week on campus, students worked in teams to develop hypothetical marketing plans to expand the My Brother’s Keeper Business Camp to a year-round program with the financial support of Ohio sports teams. On the camp’s closing day, the students pitched their marketing plans to a panel of business professionals and My Brother’s Keeper and city of Columbus administrators.  

“We want to make sure young people like you guys have all the opportunities that are afforded to you,” Carla Williams-Scott, director of the Department of Neighborhoods, said to the students before they began their pitches. “A lot of young people don’t get this opportunity until they finish college and they’re starting in their careers, to be able to network and interact with some of the individuals that you guys have had the opportunity to talk to this week.”

In their pitch presentations, students described the benefits of the My Brother’s Keeper Business Camp.In their pitch presentations, students described the benefits of the My Brother’s Keeper Business Camp.

“One of the more important aspects is that we’re going to be creating a new workforce,” said Anthony Estrada, who will be a junior at Westland High School in the fall. “Even though we’re all just teenagers now, in 20 to 30 years, we’re going to be running these positions of power in finance and different businesses. It is very important that we prepare the future generations to have these skills.”

Keziah Jackson, who will be a senior at Centennial High School and is also a cosmetology student at Columbus Downtown High School, said she learned entrepreneurial skills that will help her realize long-term goals.

“This is my second year here, and when I was here my first year, it was a really amazing program for me – all the connections I made, the people I met,” she said. “It was really life-changing.”

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