EDISON — In January, Greg Casagrande, a 1981 graduate of The Wardlaw-Hartridge School and current member of its Board of Trustees, spoke to eighth grade students about business and finance. He told them that he started The South Pacific Development Foundation/MicroDreams to empower women in the villages of Samoa to begin their own businesses. The success of these women has enabled them to pay back their loans and also improve their communities by helping each other.
Based on Casagrande’s business, a project was created so that the eighth graders would understand the purpose of MicroDreams and help them become leaders themselves. The eighth graders were broken up into four groups and each group was to form a business, elect officers, write a business plan and double the $140 given to them by the Middle School Student Council as start-up money. They worked on this project from late February until the second week in May.
All four groups were able to make a profit in their businesses, led by CEOs Naya Shim of Warren, Jonathan Saminski of Westfield, Jordan Rose of North Plainfield and Yumna Naqvi of South Plainfield. The money they raised, $2463.76, was presented to Casagrande on June 6 for his MicroDreams Foundation to help empower more women to start businesses.
As he accepted the check from teacher Nancy Duddy, Casagrande said, “I am very impressed with the efforts that the eighth grade students pursued over the last few months. I am sure all the students learned about leadership and decision-making as well as the importance of teamwork. And, running a business requires financial planning, an understanding of what customers want and the ability to market and sell a product. This is a wonderful learning experience.”
Duddy, the middle school history co-chair, worked with Casagrande to create this project for the eighth grade.
“The students learned, first hand, the importance of working together,” Duddy said. “The teams that worked best together made the most money. A big part of this project was learning how to be leaders. We are very pleased with this program and will definitely do it again next year.”
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