Last summer, Alexandria Area High School student Reece Stallman received a sponsorship from Arby's Restaurant Group to participate in a week-long summer business, career and financial literacy camp, Minnesota Business Venture.

The program is developed and organized by BestPrep, a Minnesota nonprofit that helps prepare students to be college-prepared, work-ready and career-bound. More than 350 high school students from 100 schools attended and were selected to receive scholarships to participate at one of two MBV sessions at the University of St. Thomas or St. John’s University during July.

At MBV, students developed an imaginary product or service, created a business plan and made a loan presentation. While the proposals were theoretical, the ideas presented were meant to be a realistic representation of how companies run their businesses. Product ideas this year included an automatic reflective shield for cars to block out sun and heat, an intelligent chip that transforms insulin pumps into a smarter artificial pancreas, and a solar-powered and chargeable phone case. Students were mentored throughout the week by professionals from local companies.

The students engaged in other activities on Dare to Dream Day, Entrepreneur Day, Career Day, Financial Freedom Day, Youth Empowerment Day and Future Focus Day. More than 180 volunteers shared their experiences and business insights with the future workforce by volunteering as breakout session presenters, mock interviewers, financial advisors and more.

Registration for the summer 2020 sessions will open in January.