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Over the past 21 years, the Columbia Montour Chamber, through the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber, and several Chamber members have been supporters of the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW). This unique educational summer program provides students from across the state the unique opportunity to learn about business and manufacturing. Thanks to continued generous support of members through The Foundation, the Chamber has been able to provide 167 local students with the experience of running their own simulated company.
On the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 23, two of those students, Lillian Aronson and Allie Diehl, joined a room full of educators and companies to share their experiences at PFEW last summer. Both young ladies are currently seniors at Millville High School and were selected by their peers to be CEOs of their companies during the week at Lycoming College. The students shared the rich, life changing program and experiences PFEW brought to their lives. With dynamic and diverse groups of teens from around the state, these young people learned to work on complex, real world rooted problems facing businesses every day.
Hearing the stories from the students themselves was truly inspiring. Scott Lee, PFEW’s VP of marketing and development, was on hand to share the history and impact of PFEW. Scott has appreciated the PFEW experience as a mentor, father of a graduate, and now as an employee. He shared that PFEW isn’t about business, but about the experience. Working with students from around the state, all with different backgrounds and futures, results in friendships and memories that last well beyond the week, a sentiment shared by our students presenters. Scott also shared the value of local partners in the success of PFEW. The Foundation, through generous donations from Chamber members and others, has provided $72,000 to fund 167 scholarships over the past 21 years through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and corporate sponsors. Other Chamber businesses like PPL Electric Utilities, First Columbia Bank & Trust, SEKISUI SPI, and USG have all contributed in 2018 to provide an additional $10,400 to fund an additional 18 scholarships.
Last to take the podium was Mark Burke, founder and lead consultant and educational planner of THINK’ID8. Mark has been a company mentor (aka company advisor) over the past few years. He shared his experiences as a former educator being trust into this new week long experience. The biggest challenge was the first year learning the company advisor’s directive is to not answer any question directly. They learn to guide the students through a process of problem solving on their own, using their combined skills.
To learn more and support students’ abilities to attend PFEW contact the Foundation at 570-784-2522 or by email.