Chicago Proud: Students gain business experience with Hyde Park food truck

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Chicago students got business experience by running a food truck near the University of Chicago.

A program designed to provide Chicago students with leadership opportunities gave young students business experience Monday.

With the help of The Academy Group, more than a dozen fifth graders took over a food truck on the University of Chicago campus to sell a dessert they called "creamy paradise."

The Academy Group provides academic support, mentoring and work experience to low-income, minority children. More than 300 Chicago students from fourth grade through high school participate in the program.

"So many times, our students don't have the opportunity to solve real problems, and this is something that is very real," said Kathleen Caliento of The Academy Group.

The students spent five weeks creating a business plan, working on marketing and setting a target for profit. During the business day, they also learned some tough lessons.

"When we're selling, some people ignore us or they just say no, and they're rude sometimes," said student Ja'La Steen.

But through perseverance, they snagged their first customer.

"I came over here for something savory, but they got me," said the students' first customer, Sonya Miller.

The goal of The Academy Group is to give students access to opportunity in order to become leaders of tomorrow.

"You get to see entrepreneurship and it's just amazing because it's only one time in your life where kids get to experience this," said student Sincere McNabb.

The students will sell desserts again between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday at a food truck near East 57th Street and South Ellis Avenue.
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