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Bemidji banks help students learn financial literacy, business skills

Jake Bronczyk, Daniel Frost and Mitch Reise, students from Bemidji High School, recently received scholarship support from First National Bank of Bemidji, First National Bank of Deerwood, Wells Fargo and Affinity Plus Foundation to attend BestPrep's Minnesota Business Venture, a summer education program focused on career planning and financial literacy. More than 160 sponsors donate funds to support students' attendance.

Over two weeks, 359 Minnesota high school students from 116 high schools participated in MBV, held in partnership with the G.R. Herberger College of Business at St. Cloud State University and the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at St. John's University in Collegeville. Each week focused on important business components - starting a business, financial literacy, teamwork and collaboration.

By 2010, today's teens and young adults will make up the largest segment of America's labor force. Students that attend MBV set themselves apart by learning skills that can be utilized in future careers.

Volunteers from the business community, called Resident Business Leaders, mentored the students during the week. These volunteers, from companies such as Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Securian Financial Group, Medtronic and Ecolab, lived on campus for the week and guided a small "company" of students through the curriculum and interactive activities.

"I really enjoyed staying at MBV over the week," Frost said. "The business aspect was fun, but getting to know new people was even better."

He added that he improved his public speaking skills, which will help with student council meetings and he plans to start saving $50 a month for the next 30 years.

"Minnesota Business Venture is a unique opportunity for high school students to gain skills that will help them in their future," said Andrea Hanson, Minnesota Business Venture director. "The interviewing skills, teamwork and communication skills developed during the week help students relate the educational content to the work world."

While attending Minnesota Business Venture, students were taught how to write a business plan, interview for a job and begin investing. More than 50 Minnesota entrepreneurs and executives volunteered to share their experiences and business prowess with the future workforce. Volunteer speakers came from many companies including Allstate Insurance, General Mills, the Minnesota Wild, Davanni's Pizza & Hot Hoagies, College Nannies & Tutors and Share Save Spend. Walter Bond and "Famous Dave" Anderson provided motivational keynote addresses.

BestPrep has offered Minnesota Business Venture for 28 years and has more than 9,300 program alumni. In addition to MBV, BestPrep offers four other innovative programs: Classroom Plus, eMentors, The Stock Market Game and the Technology Integration Workshop. For more information about BestPrep, MBV 2009 or MBV 2010, visit or call 763-398-0090.