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Young Entrepreneurs Get Top Grades for 10 Most Innovative Classroom Business Ventures

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jun 12, 2014) - As the school year draws to a close, students from ten Canadian grade schools can look back and say they've conquered the daunting world of big business, gained essential 21st century skills in the process and can now add National Student Innovation Award to their résumés.

After several months of brainstorming, business planning and sales pitching, ten classrooms in Ottawa, Calgary, Fredericton, Halifax and Toronto were recognized by The Learning Partnership and the BMO National Student Innovation Awards for exemplary student ventures in 2014 demonstrating originality, enterprising spirit, teamwork and impact on school and community. Judges' Choice Awards were also given to the ventures that best demonstrated all of the categories. In total, ten prizes were awarded (see winner citations following this release for business descriptions and category winners):

Annie Foote EA Club Annie Foote School Calgary
Step Up to 7 Habits Earl Grey School Calgary
An Evening of Well Wishes for India West Springs School Calgary
Uknighted Form St. Richard Catholic School Toronto
ACS Enterprise Assumption School Ottawa
Imagination Crew Jockvale Elementary School Ottawa
Cuddles for Creatures St. Daniel's Catholic School Ottawa
Project Teen MINDS St. Michael Fitzroy Harbour Ottawa
Delicious Dates Park Street School Fredericton
Theatre of the Mind Sir John A. MacDonald High School Halifax

These classroom business ventures range from: kid-created calendars for food lovers filled with mouth-watering recipes and coupons for local restaurants; custom-made step stools with inspiring leadership themed designs; and a "group-help" book that publishes youth-submitted stories and artwork, addressing common youth issues and struggles. Profits from all the student ventures have gone towards charity.

Winning schools received the news during regional award ceremonies at The Learning Partnership's Entrepreneurial Adventure Showcase events, recently held in six locations in Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Award-winning ventures each received $500 to further their school's entrepreneurial pursuits plus a special plaque for their school.

Both showcase and awards ceremony events are the culmination of The Learning Partnership's Entrepreneurial Adventure program, which teams kindergarten to Grade 12 classes with business mentors to help students develop entrepreneurial and other essential 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, presentation skills, marketing, business planning and the importance of social responsibility. The showcase events are held in public venues, providing a real-life opportunity to practise pitching and public speaking skills while gaining confidence in the process.

Over the past 18 years, BMO Financial Group has been the lead National Sponsor of The Learning Partnership's Entrepreneurial Adventure program. More than 41,000 students have participated across Canada, creating more than 1,100 successful student-driven ventures and raising $2.6 million for charities to date. There were 37 ventures submitted for award consideration for this 10th year of the BMO Financial National Student Innovation Awards.

About The Learning Partnership

Celebrating 20 years of service in supporting excellence in public education, The Learning Partnership is a national charity dedicated to building stakeholder partnerships to support, promote and advance publicly funded education in Canada. We do this through five key deliverables - innovative student programs, executive leadership for educators, knowledge mobilization and policy, tribute celebrations of excellence and ongoing collaborations across Canada. Since 1993, more than 5.3 million students have participated in The Learning Partnership's programs. For more information on The Learning Partnership, visit www.thelearningpartnership.ca.

Winner Citations - 2014 BMO National Student Innovation Awards:

Judges Choice Awards

Project TeenMINDS
St. Michael Fitzroy Harbour - Grade 8
Ottawa Catholic School Board

For their passion and innovation to develop a revolutionary "Group Help Book" that features youth-submitted stories and artwork, offering suggestions and solutions to common youth issues and struggles. Campaign awareness was created through an interactive online contest website, social outreach on Twitter and Facebook, and fundraising efforts to raise over $4,000 for start-up costs. The students took entrepreneurial learning to a whole new level, by taking a practical, hands-on project and turning it into an impactful, life-changing experience for themselves and others.

An Evening of Well Wishes for India
West Springs School - Grade 4
Calgary Board of Education

For creating an "Eating Well to Create a Well" cookbook of favourite recipes submitted by students and families in order to build a well in India and support clean water through Free the Children. Students also organized a silent auction and a mini-mall, selling student-made key chains, hair accessories, and rock art. The students discovered how to work together towards a common goal and gained the realization that they can make a real difference in the world.

Originality Awards

Imagination Crew
Jockvale Elementary School - Grade 5
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

For demonstrating to both parents and other students the infinite possibilities of repurposing used items. The class taught lessons to various classrooms about how to "Imagine, Create and Re-purpose" recycled items. They also encouraged the whole school community to create items made out of recycled or re-purposed goods that would be sold in a catalogue, with advertising space available to local businesses for a fee. Proceeds from their business venture went to Scouts Canada which teaches children how to use their imagination, create and take care of the environment.

Cuddles for Creatures
St. Daniel's Catholic School - Grade 5/6
Ottawa Catholic School Board

For thinking beyond their school boundaries about how to advertise and promote their business venture, Cuddles for Creatures - a venture that helps to increase awareness about endangered species and raise money for the World Wildlife Federation. Students created an official website and used the power of social media and other digital tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google Chat to inform the public about endangered animals and their fundraising activities.

Enterprising Spirit Awards

ACS Enterprise
Assumption School - Grade 5
Ottawa Catholic School Board

For finding a way to promote local businesses to city residents by providing them with a service of writing and placing advertorials in their local newspaper. As part of their curriculum to learn how to write essays, the students worked with a professional news writer to write and edit advertorial stories to be published in the newspaper. All proceeds from their business venture went to the Boys and Girls Club of Vanier. The students received valuable experiential learning, understood the importance of giving back to the community and forged new links between the school and local businesses.

Delicious Dates
Park Street School - Grades 3 to 5
Anglophone West School District (Fredericton)

For supporting their local restaurant community by creating and selling calendars for food lovers that feature mouth-watering photos of specialty dishes, recipes and coupons from participating Fredericton restaurants. All proceeds from calendar sales went to the Fredericton Community Kitchen to help vulnerable people in the community who rely on food donations. The students learned about approaching local businesses, time management, marketing and promotion, and the importance of helping those in need.

Teamwork Awards

uKnighted Form
St. Richard Catholic School - Grade 8
Toronto Catholic District School Board

For demonstrating a strong partnership among their classmates, teacher and business mentor to create uKnighted Form - a business venture that offered fellow students dress code appropriate clothing options that also reflected youth fashion, such as a modernized school logo design. Sales from the clothing line went towards me2We and lymeSAVERS - two important causes that hold strong connections to the school.

Annie Foote EA Club
Annie Foote School - Grade 3
Calgary Board of Education

For taking their class lessons in global citizenship and creating a business venture to help improve the quality of life for children in third-world countries through various fundraising activities. Students made sales pitches to students and teachers for start-up costs and sold various food products, as well as student-made cultural artwork based on countries they were fundraising for, including Tunisia-inspired mosaic tile bookmarks, Rangoli-designed mobiles and pysanky egg art. All proceeds from their business venture supported Heifer International which works to end hunger and poverty around the world.

Impact on School and Community Awards

Step Up to 7 Habits
Earl Grey School - Grade 4 to 6
Calgary Board of Education

For designing and painting step stools with themes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Kids to raise money for the 7 Habits program at Valleyview School in Calgary. Students learned how to work collaboratively on the building, design and painting of the benches. They also divided themselves into Marketing, Accounting, Building, Designing, Painting and Sales committees and followed through on their respective responsibilities.

Theatre of the Mind
Sir John A. MacDonald High School - Grade 12
Halifax Regional School Board

For partnering with media and local businesses to sell tickets for a Robert Lamar Theatre of the Mind hypnotist show. Ticket stands were set up at their school and at local businesses such as Sobeys, Scotiabank and Walmart. The students raised a total of $10,500 for two organizations, Phoenix and Bryony House, as well as a local family in need. The students refined their leadership skills and encouraged each other to share new ideas and experiences.