Youth social enterprise camp to spark creative business ideas

High school students living within District 834 are invited to apply by May 1

The Stillwater Area Foundation is now taking applications for its first-ever Sparks! Social Enterprise Camp for high school students.

The day camp will take place in downtown Stillwater this summer, June 19-23. Participants will spend five days listening to guest speakers, visiting social enterprise businesses throughout the Twin Cities and, ultimately, developing concept plans for their own social enterprises.

“For many young adults today the ambition to earn a solid living is there, but it is not enough,” said Stillwater Area Foundation board member Tom Triplett. “They want to know that the hours they spend working will make a lasting and meaningful difference in the world, as well.”

A social enterprise is a business that seeks to make money, but it also has a clear social goal or benefit. For example, the business focus could be on saving the environment. Or it might provide jobs for people who are difficult to employ. Or it could provide support to adults or kids battling serious illnesses. Examples of some well-known social enterprises include TOMS shoes and Love Your Melon.

Michael Vergin will serve as the camp leader and director. Vergin, a faculty member at Mounds Park Academy, has taught a high school course on social enterprise for three years.

“I see many students who have an interest in making the world a better place,” he said. “There is something very powerful about thinking creatively in order to help others. There’s also something intuitively interesting and challenging about working to solve problems and meet needs that others haven’t yet solved.

“The idea is that students will leave the camp motivated to make a difference, empowered to understand their own potential to enact change, and inspired by others who have done just that. Realistically, we won’t change the world during Sparks! week. But the students who participate will head into their futures armed with an idea and an action plan for starting a social enterprise of their own.””

The camp is being made possible by a financial grant from RBC Wealth Management, with base-camp space donated by Jim Link of Idea-Link, Inc. and the IdeaPad.

Sparks! Social Enterprise Camp is open to students living within the school District 834 boundaries who will be juniors or seniors in high school during the 2017-2018 school year. Students attending Stillwater Area High School, private schools, charter schools and home schools are encouraged to apply. Up to 20 students will be accepted into this year’s inaugural camp.

Additional information and applications for Sparks! Social Enterprise Camp are available at local high school counselors’ offices, and at

Questions about the camp can be directed to foundation board member Tom Triplett by phone 651-222-0239 or email [email protected] Applications must be received by May 1.

The Stillwater Area foundation is an affiliate of the St. Croix Valley Foundation.