COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS: Carmelita Weakley and Bobby Garret of Kids Boss Club

By Taryn Skees for Amplify — May 12, 2023

For the past 8 years, Carmelita Weakley has served as the Family Resource
Coordinator (FRC) for Fern Creek and Wheeler Elementary Schools in Jefferson County. A true educator, Weakley thrives in her role as a solutions-oriented professional advocate, positioned to remove barriers. “Inspiring and empowering others is my passion, as I continue to touch hearts, teach minds, and transform lives – one student and one family at a time.”

In 2022, in the midst of the pandemic, Weakley developed an Entrepreneurship “Kids’ Boss Club” at both schools through a collaborative partnership with the University Of Louisville College Of Business. She spearheaded this club – including the creation, coordination, activities, and programming – to provide an experience for students at the elementary level that goes beyond what they are exposed to in the classroom.

“Entrepreneurship encourages kids to think outside the box and to think critically by
exploring or possibly discovering their personal strengths and areas for development,” said Weakley. “The knowledge of having entrepreneurial skills lays the groundwork for students to learn financial literacy skills and the fundamentals of money management.”

Robert Garrett, PhD, the Brown & Williamson Professor of Entrepreneurship
at the University of Louisville, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, and the Director of the
Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship developed and taught a 7-week curriculum to the students that included how to launch a creative idea by developing a business and marketing plan with branding, pricing, and learning the role of a business owner.

What he loved most about his participation with Kids’ Boss Club was the kids enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. “There were many days when I thought I was too busy to make the trip…but I always went. And, each day when it was over I was reinvigorated by the experience,” said Garrett. “In short, it started as an opportunity to serve the community, but I quickly realized that I, too, was being served because the children were rekindling my own joy for entrepreneurship education.”

At the end of the program, 55 students from Wheeler Elementary and 25 students from Fern Creek participated in teams of 3-5 in a Kids’ Boss Club Showcase at the U of L School of Business. The event included judges, awards and food. Each team had to display their products and pitch to investors. A first place winning team was selected from each school.

Amplify’s Larry Horn had the honor of being a judge for the 2023 Kids’ Boss Club competition. “These kidpreneurs were smart, engaging, and well prepared! Unlocking future entrepreneurs and providing access to programs and support will support our vision of creating a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Louisville for years to come,” said Horn.

Weakley and Garrett hope The Kids’ Boss Club will inspire the next generation of budding entrepreneurs. And some of them have already seen some success! One student from this year’s group shared that she has launched her own business tie-dyeing phone cases and has profited $80.00. Her goal is to one-day purchase her own cell phone. She stated the 4 P’s of Marketing – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion gave her the skills to launch her business.

A previous Kids Boss Club participant, Ta’Mya Wilson, came back to speak to current students about her experience. As part of the competition, Wilson came up with her business “Beautiful Creations” a small shop with custom-made bracelets for all ages – girls, boys, women, and men. As of today, Ta’Mya has $1,300 in sales. Wilson said, “Kids’ Boss Club taught [me] that everything is possible to accomplish and achieve if you set your mind to it and focus on what the goal is.”

To echo that sentiment, Garrett says, “Simply put, children need experiences that help them understand early that they are capable of doing hard things and that the community will support them.”

Weakley hopes to continue the Kids Boss Club each year with the help of the UofL partnership and aims to continue to be “a champion and a voice for the students, families, teachers, administrators, and community partners that I serve each day.”

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