Popular Youth Event Returns May 18, Empowers Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Writer  /  Beth Beckwith

The saying goes that, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, and with a little bit of help, more than 650 kids in Louisville did just that this year. The Coulters, a local entrepreneurial couple, joined a group in 2017 called “Lemonade Day” and sponsored the project in order to bring it to children in the local community.

The goal of Lemonade Day is to inspire today’s youth to gain a more intricate understanding of modern business in terms of finance, cooperation and innovation. Lemonade Day was started in 2008 by businessman Michael Holthouse. Holthouse was successful in his initial business endeavors and was, in turn, able to sell his first business to a major technology company. This sale set him up for a lucrative future, but he felt inclined to teach his children the importance of responsibility and hard work. He wanted to teach them to appreciate the benefits of discipline and self-motivation in the way that he had come to understand these traits over time.

Lemonade Day started with a dream that was sparked by Holthouse’s daughter. She wanted to get a pet turtle and Holthouse saw, through this, the opportunity to teach his daughter a valuable lesson. He told her that, in order to acquire the pet, she would have to earn money to pay for it. Her initial response was to put up a lemonade stand which inevitably was so successful that she was able to purchase her turtle with money left over.

Within this learning lesson, Holthouse found inspiration for a much larger project. In 2008, he decided to take this concept to a much broader scale in Houston, Texas. Since that time, 10 years have passed and each year brings in more cities and more participants. In 2017, Lauren Coulter, now our City Director of Lemonade Day, and her husband got wind of the project and reached out to sponsor the event in Louisville.

“Ten years have passed since the project was started and each year it seems to get bigger and bigger,” Coulter says. “Lemonade Day currently spans across 60 cities throughout the nation with a range of 40,000 kids in Houston participating to 15,000 in Indiana. “This is Louisville’s second year and roughly 660 kids did it. Last year, we had about 300-350 kids join in. The rate has doubled in just one year and we expect it to grow more over time.”

Lemonade Day this year will be Saturday, May 18.

As Louisville’s City Director of Lemonade Day, Coulter has many responsibilities she must adhere to in order for each project to be a success. The project relies heavily on like-minded volunteers looking to improve youth education in their communities. Coulter works year-round to acquire more volunteers, sponsors and media attention in order to keep the project growing strong. While it takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep this program alive, the results are well worth the time invested. Lemonade Day teaches the importance of monetary value, community vigilance and responsibility.

While Holthouse gains credit for starting this organization, each city involved depends on the sponsorship of community-oriented individuals looking to bring new opportunities to children in their hometown. The Coulters set their legacy in place long before Lemonade Day by launching multiple successful businesses. However, Lemonade Day may be their biggest achievement in terms of self-determined civic duty.

“My life revolves around my family and my work with my husband,” Coulter says. “We both are trained pharmacists who found a different calling in life than we had anticipated. I have been involved with junior league, volunteer organizations and other local community efforts that have exposed our family to a variety of programs in our city. These learning experiences inspired us to start our own local business.

“We were the first ones in Louisville to start an interactive restaurant called Uptown Art on Bardstown Road. It later morphed into LouVino, a place where people could gather together to create, buy and learn about art over snacks and a glass or two of wine. After acquiring a knack for this type of entrepreneurship, we just kind of thought Lemonade Day married that notion with our desire to be engaged in the local philanthropic community.”

Lemonade Day is targeted towards elementary and middle school learning levels.

”I think it’s important to teach these values early on, while kids are beginning to shape their expectations of the world around them,” Coulter says. “It’s easy for parents, grandparents and other caregivers to simply purchase things for their kids or reward them with things but I think that, because Lemonade Day provides them with the ability to make their own money, it gives them a stake in the process of understanding it’s value.”

Each participant submits their business results through the Lemonade Day website. Once each entry is accounted for, board members read through them and select a child to receive rewards based on their efforts. There is a cash reward as well as a grand prize. This year the grand prize was a bike giveaway in each city. The selected individuals are then entered into a national competition where one child is chosen to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Last year two Louisville participants were chosen and went on to win the national award, later serving as advocates for the program.

Every child registered in the program is given a backpack and workbook with lessons and plans for their project. They use the workbook as a guide to determine goals, develop budgets, advertise, provide good customer service and repay investors. This teaches the value of giving back to the community as a proactive citizen. Each person keeps the profits earned from their efforts and are encouraged to use the money towards the goals they set for themselves in their workbooks.

This program teaches children about in-depth entrepreneurship through the simple creation of a lemonade stand. It provides them with the opportunity to make their own money and gives them a stake in what they save for and purchase. As part of the program, participants set goals for spending, saving and sharing. The ultimate end game is to teach them about financial literacy. Through this, they develop a foundation for good citizenship and future community activism.

“General awareness is key in terms of a call to action at this point,” Coulter says. “Folks engaged in getting involved in local community efforts aligned with our goals are needed. Volunteers help us make this event happen each year and we will need many more if we want this project to expand in Louisville.”

Ms. Coulter noted that any and all organizations whose mission or goals align with those of Lemonade Day should contact her directly through their website for more information about getting involved.

“This is the time for fundraising and networking in hopes of raising money to keep it free to participants and continuing to spread the news,” she says.

For more information, please visit lemonadeday.org/louisville.