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The 8th Annual CIA Market Day: Where Family Engagement and Financial Literacy Intersect

Delia Johnson, Project Director for Alief ISD’s Children Interacting Afterschool (CIA) program in Texas, sat down with Y4Y to discuss their 8th Annual CIA Market Day, which consisted of 26 student-created and operated businesses. More than 7,800 products were available for purchase with CIA “Market Day bucks.” Delia discusses how family engagement and financial literacy factored in to contribute to a successful Market Day!




Y4Y: Could you describe the CIA Market Day in a nutshell?

Delia: CIA Market Day is a project-based curriculum, customized for each one of our sites that allows students to explore their curiosity, take risk, engage in financial literacy, conduct market research, develop marketing strategies, practice communication skills, explore the various models of business social media presence, manufacturing of goods, and engage in teamwork in a fun, interactive environment through given task, lessons, and activities. 

All these skills and tasks come together for what we call CIA Market Day, which is hosted once a year for the community and our students to shop for creative, handmade items the students of CIA have created. Each of our sites open their pop-up shop to the community in which they engage with 26 other sites. They also engage with parents, staff, community members, and peers to use their customer service and presentation of their products to win top business awards such as Most Captivating Commercial, Product of the Year, Outstanding Customer Service, “Breakout” Business of the Year, Highest Sales, and Family Engagement Champion.  The judges, who consisted of district personnel and community partners, had the tough task of choosing our winners. Market Day symbolizes the connection between the regular school day, beyond school hours, business partners, and community relationships. It takes a village to raise a child and this village is surely proud of the CIA stakeholders.   

Y4Y: Give us a behind-the-curtain look at the amount of work that goes into planning this Market Day. How are you able to get your students involved in different phases of the planning and execution process?

Delia: Now this is no easy task, but anything worth something requires work and the reward surpasses the work every time.  The majority of the work happens on each site during programming as staff scaffolds lessons to embed the skills necessary for our kiddos to be successful. We want our students to see a plan is always required; you are going to either plan to succeed or plan to fail. Either way, you need a plan! They are introduced to backwards planning, goal setting, and check-ins in January. The staff does a great job giving them the little puzzle pieces and before you know it, April is here, and the puzzle is complete.  Each week of programming has a lesson and sites usually spend about two days a week with a CIA Market Day rotation for students to manufacture their products. Each site is tasked with producing at least 300 products to bring to CIA Market Day. They choose the variety in which they want to accomplish that number. Engaging students is never a challenge because the energy in which it is delivered has the students running to programming! Students are also placed on the Market Day payroll, which is a simulation of payroll in the workforce, in which they earn CIA bucks for time worked, bonus task, etc. Those bucks can be used at Market Day to purchase items of your choice from your shop or other pop shops.  

Y4Y: When your team sought out to create the Market Day, what was the vision? What was the goal?

Delia: The vision and goal were simple: to build students confidence in themselves, to empower them to want more, and to show them they can do more with what they have been given.

Y4Y: Have there been any unexpected benefits that have come from this event, either benefits to the community or the students?

Delia: We have several students who have created their own business based on what they have learned from Market Day and have launched their own shops. A few have official LLCs and are doing quite well for themselves and their families! The community looks forward to this event year after year, as they are able to purchase some really rare, unique, one-of-kind items for their homes and give thoughtful gifts for their families and friends. The list goes on. Not to mention, you can't beat the affordable pricing.  

Y4Y: Can you give us some perspective on how the students chose the specifics for this event? How did the students choose what product they sold, their profit margin, what their booths looked like? Was there a research aspect that helped in making these decisions?

Delia: Our amazing staff facilitate lessons, think tanks, and brainstorming sessions with our students to determine what they would like to make. They then research using surveys from classmates, school personnel, and their families regarding what is in demand. Once the site has decided their top items, they research price matching, cost of material, and more, to determine their price point. Small businesses in our community come in as guest speakers to assist them during their work groups. Students work on advertisement and their target audience, and then design their booth around the products, business names, and more.  

Y4Y: Family engagement is obviously at the forefront of many of the activities your program provides. How were the families able to get involved in the Market Day?

Delia: This is one of the many events our parents look forward to all year. They are able to shop, see their children perform during our Market Day performance, see the finished products, hear their communication skills at work, and participate in the family exhibits and educational corners. 

Y4Y: I’m sure that this event and the amazing opportunities for enrichment, family and community engagement, and financial and business literacy will inspire many listeners. Could you provide any advice? Perhaps you also had some setbacks that you’d also like to share.

Delia: Start small, start early, have fun, and get as many people involved with the process as possible. My mama always told me that lots of hands make for less work.  

Y4Y: That's so true, Delia. Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Well, thank you for sitting down with us. I really enjoyed learning about how your program enriches students through financial literacy and family engagement. And of course, to the audience, thank you for tuning in. This has been Y4Y's Voices from the Field.

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