Program to teach kids entrepreneurship

Published 8:51 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

FRANKLIN—Too many children on the streets and not enough positive influences is a problem in Franklin, according to some in the community. However, a new program may soon help encourage the city’s young people to move from the street corner to the boardroom.

Learning Entrepreneurs Getting it Together or L.E.G.I.T., is a program that started in Virginia Beach in 2003. Terry Kelly, one of the organization’s co-founders, said that the mission of the program is to teach and foster entrepreneurship among young people. Now, the organization is set to come to Franklin.

“We’re teaching them to empower themselves and empowering others at the same time,” he said.

In Franklin, the Black Achievers program as well as the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Resident’s Council are working to create L.E.G.I.T. chapters.

Kelly said that there were plenty of programs teaching children to play sports, sing or dance, but there aren’t nearly as many programs exposing children to financial responsibility, business and politics.

“We’ve got to change the way our kids are taught,” he said.

While in the program, children are encouraged to get involved in their own communities and volunteer. They are also taken to City Council meetings, and introduced to important business and political leaders.

“The business world is a small circle,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to learn to network.”

However, the program isn’t all work. “We do have fun,” Kelly said. The group takes trips to different programs and events throughout the area.

Carlton Lowe, a commissioner on the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board, said that he supports the formation of a Franklin chapter and that it would not only benefit the young people.

“I feel like it would deter some of the crime in the city,” he said. “It would help the whole Franklin community.”

Lowe said it could help young people who don’t currently have positive influences.

“Rather than them selling drugs, this will teach them to be business minded,” he said.

Kelly said that his own son, 21-year-old Jaren Kelly, is an example of the program’s success. Jaren Kelly, a senior at Virginia State University, operated his own lawn care and T-shirt businesses while still in high school. He hopes to become a lawyer.

Terry Kelly hopes that the program continues to grow.

“Spread the word. Don’t just keep it in our area,” he said. “Start chapters throughout the state and throughout the country.”