By Rieva Lesonsky

photos lemonadeSummer has started, and kids across the country are out of school. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop learning. And what better way to learn during the summer months than the entrepreneurial lessons of running a lemonade stand?

Growing up in the suburbs, my partners and I all ran lemonade stands as kids (who didn’t?). But entrepreneur Michael Holthouse is taking the idea of the lemonade stand one step further with Lemonade Day. Holthouse founded a computer network firm in the 1990s and sold it to Sprint for $375 million in 1997. Lemonade Day was developed by Holthouse’s nonprofit organization, Prepared 4 Life, which is dedicated to helping youth become socially conscious and positively impact their communities.

Youth entrepreneurship is a passion of mine, so I love the concept of Lemonade Day. Adult mentors guide the children through setting up their stands and understanding the business concepts, but let the kids make most of the decisions. On a predetermined day, kids in all participating cities open their stands for business. The first Lemonade Day took place in 2007 in Houston, with 2,600 stands.

The youths run their businesses just as adults would: They set a goal, find an investor, sell their product and make a profit. The average participant walks away with $200. The young entrepreneurs get to keep everything they earn, but are are encouraged to open a savings account, pay back investors and make a further investment in their community by donating a portion of their profits to a charity of their choice.

May 2, 2010, was the first time the program took place nationwide. An estimated 75,000 children in 14 cities participated. In Texas alone, youth made $2 million and donated $500,000 to charities. By 2013, the goal of Lemonade Day is to reach 1 million youth in 100 cities.

Lemonade Day has grown through the energies of adult sponsors. You or your business can sponsor Lemonade Day in your city; or you and your staff can volunteer to help. Get your employees involved—why not create a company-wide event around Lemonade Day?

Next year’s Lemonade Day is May 1, 2011. To see if your city has a Lemonade Day and get more information about sponsoring or volunteering, visit the Lemonade Day website.