Getting Students Ready for Life

Part of the mission of Rising Leaders Academy is to provide students with active, real-world learning. Students go on journeys of learning where they conduct research, fieldwork and learn from experts about their topics of interest.

Rising Leaders Academy is where we provide students with the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. One of these skills in entrepreneurship. At RLA, we transform our school into a miniature society where students have a voice and choice. With this comes the responsibility of being a good citizen who follows the rules.

Our miniature society is run by the students and tied to state standards and all curriculum areas. It has all the components that one would find in any adult society, including the economic system with its own currency, banks, and businesses. Students earn money we call “Crew Cash” through work and use their money to buy goods and services provided by other students. As students assume more responsibility, teachers become facilitators and consultants. There are also roles for parents and community partners. It aims to nurture higher-order thinking skills, in large part by making learning intensely relevant and reflective of “real world” experience.

RLA is not affiliated with any MicroSociety(R) trademark. We develop our own entrepreneurship curriculum and programs to provide our students with real-world learning that’s unique and rigorous. Our parents, families, and community play a big role in our entrepreneurship programs and support our students and staff.

Our Rigorous Entrepreneurship Model

Our entrepreneurship model has significance beyond the learning and application of skills and content. Our staff works with our community, including the Gulf Coast College Business Innovation Center to provide programs and activities that help our students gain entrepreneur and business skills. Running a business teaches the consequences of behavior: students learn they must work in order to be paid, cooperate in order to get a job done and plan ahead. They learn the basics of economics by doing it. A concept such as scarcity is learned when they want to buy an item, there is none left of that item. They understand saving. The entrepreneurial spirit motivates dynamic learning and the pursuit of new ideas, creativity, and unique opportunities. Students gain entrepreneurship skills from their independently run businesses, as well as their class ventures which require more teamwork.

Business Plan

Students were asked to develop a business plan with their big idea, which can be a product or service. Students were encouraged to come up with unique ideas that are innovative.

We partnered with the Gulf Coast College Business Innovation Center to provide our students with business skills, such as marketing and pitching their products. Students had several opportunities to market their business. They were asked to create a flyer with images and slogans. They were also assigned to create a commercial and introduced to iMovie trailers to create fun, creative videos.


Students were asked about the start-up cost, cost per unit, pricing of the unit, and profit.

Crew Cash

Crew Cash is school-generated money that students use to buy from each other’s businesses. Students receive Crew Cash for good behavior and hard work. Crew Cash is used to create a nurturing environment where students are recognized and awarded for good behavior. They are also rewarded with Crew Cash for quality work and responsibility by turning in their homework. At the same time in the RLA Entrepreneurship Society, students who do not follow the Code of Conduct will be fined. If a student does not follow the school rules, such as silence in the hallways and pick up time, not running in the hallway, and not littering, will be fined.

Ask any Rising Leader what’s their favorite part of our entrepreneurship program and you will likely hear “The Marketplace”. The marketplace is where students set up their businesses and generate wealth for society. They spent months preparing to open their business, and this is where their ideas come to life. Store signs are brightly decorated with graphic designs, catchy names, and business slogans. Price lists show deep discounts, sales, and specials on a tri-fold next to their items.

Students are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas. For example, a student drew digital personalized avatars for customers that they can use for their social media, while another made creative, personalized bracelets.

The Bank

The bank is a critical part of the RLA entrepreneurship program. The RLA bank has been run by our 5th grader students, who gain communication skills from this experience. Students use the bank to change their bills. They may exchange small bills for a bigger one or a big bill for smaller ones. This has given the students real-world experience with counting money and calculating the change. The bank also allows students to deposit and withdraw money.


The EXPEDITION is the journey of learning that students go on to learn a topic in depth through real-world experiences, fieldwork, and experts to answer a big guiding question. The VENTURE is the product or service that students will lead for their EXPEDITION, which requires the support of the RLA society, where Crew Cash will be used.


Kindergarten Expedition: How can we help community members in need?
Entrepreneurship Venture: Food Drive

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