Student-run store selling student-made products opens in river rouge news thenewsherald.com electricity sound effect mp3 free download

MZUZI, which means “innovate” in Swahili, first began as a store in the Austin Neighborhood of Chicago to empower high school students who had become disengaged from traditional education. It gave them a jumpstart in entrepreneurship. The Chicago’s store model — student-made products sold in a student-run store — was brought to River Rouge as the second location in the country through a partnership between Chicago-based educator Flavian Prince, investors and the school district.

The River Rouge store, 288 Richter St., stocks T-shirts, candles, lip balm and lotions all made by its own students, along with some products made by Chicago students, including hand-sewn pillows, wall clocks, custom-photo puzzles, bath bombs and laser-cut, wooden gift boxes. As the River Rouge store becomes more established, its students will expand their own product lines. More health and beauty products, home decor, jewelry, toys, outdoor games, clothing and consumer electronics are expected in the near future.

The students get to develop their own brands and products through a curriculum implemented in the River Rouge School District called Meta24, which was created by Chicago-based educator Flavian Prince. He has infused the Meta24 curriculum into schools in Chicago and has worked with River Rouge schools’ curriculum reform for the past five years.

“Meta24 alters the current trend of traditional education and assists in revitalizing struggling communities,” according to a press release for the MZUZI opening. “Through Meta24, students not only learn essential skills and earn credits, but they also proactively prepare for successful futures.”

The River Rouge location was funded by $50,000 in venture capital by New York-based Economic Social Empowerment Strategies. CEO Robert Jones travelled to Chicago to see the MZUZI store, met Prince, loved how the model taught students finance and helped gather investors for River Rouge. Another MZUZI will be opened in Atlanta within a few months.

Jorge Mercado, a student from Chicago who helps run the original MZUZI where he sells his handmade corn hole games popular for tailgating, travelled with Prince to River Rouge to help set up the new store and teach students how to use their point-of-sale software on an iPad. The software not only keeps track of inventory and profit margins, but also tracks customer demographics so students can learn product trends within their community. Running the store is also a daily lesson in accounting and finance.

Mercado said he was selling drugs before he met Prince and learned about the alternative educational program Prince runs in Chicago called Banner Learning. Mercado ran into trouble after he was caught by the police a couple times about two years ago and ended up in a halfway house. He said becoming involved with MZUZI through the transitional housing program completely changed his life after discovering a future with opportunities was possible.

Flavian Prince, the Chicago-based educator who founded Meta24 and the MZUZI store model, said he hopes to see the students who are part of MZUZI graduate from high school and create their own businesses in their own communities. And even better than that, establish them in vacant buildings in their neighborhoods, just like MZUZI.

“This is a student movement,” he said. “And for all of us who are students of the civil rights movement, we know that it is the young people who are going to change each and every generation. We just have to give them the tools and resources to do what they need to do.”