NASHVILLE (AP) – At a time of high youth unemployment, a national entrepreneurial program has a solution for youngsters who can't find a job: make your own.
Lemonade Day teaches youths – from age 3 to 18 – to operate their own businesses through the real-world experience of a lemonade stand.
Last week, a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count project showed employment of people ages 16 to 24 nationwide is at its lowest point in 50 years.
In Tennessee, fewer than one in four youths age 16 to 19 were working last year, and only about 60 percent of those age 20 to 24 were employed, according to the report.
It called on businesses, governments, philanthropies and communities to work together to create opportunities that will benefit young people and build a stronger workforce.
In an effort to inspire at least 1 million youth to become entrepreneurs, Lemonade Day has partnered with Google Inc., which will use its online technology to broaden the program's reach.
Lemonade Day uses a 14-step process to provide youngsters concepts for starting a business and teaches them to spend wisely, save and share by giving back to their communities.
Nashville is among 20 cities that will be part of the initiative in 2013. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said the effort complements the city's entrepreneurial spirit.
"Nashville is fast becoming a hotbed for entrepreneurs in the country, and instilling the entrepreneurial spirit into our young people through a hands-on experience is a great education for them," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Julie Eberly, president of Lemonade Day, said her organization encourages youths to focus on creating jobs, rather than always seeking them.
"These kids are understanding that they don't have to wait for those jobs to come to them; they can be the innovators themselves," she said.
Nine-year-old Conrad Hamilton is a believer. The Lubbock, Texas, youngster has been a part of Lemonade Day for about a year and said running a lemonade stand has made him determined to be an entrepreneur – of some kind.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm going to own a business," he said. "I want to ... help people that don't have a job."
Online: Lemonade Day: lemonadeday.org
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.