Cool Schools: Howard Univ. Middle School

5:41 AM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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(WUSA9) -- Have you ever thought about starting your own business and then sort of gotten intimidated, thinking this is too hard?

Learning how to say "Yes I Can" is what today's Cool Schools is all about.  The students at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science can show you how to do it, too.

The seeds of entrepreneurship are being sewn at the school. Eight graders like Leah Porter come up with their own mobile apps that will solve a problem in their community.

"There is no app that is suitable for smart money management. We believe we could build Budget Buddies by December of 2014," proposed Leah Porter, who is the CEO of the app company.

Porter and her team are getting professional help to make it happen. Aaron Saunders owns Clearly innovative. He builds apps for a living.

"One of the things I say to the kids is 'right now you spend all this time on your phone and this is somebody else producing content for you to consume. Why don't you create the content your own ideas for you to consume? You know what you want better than they do?'" said Saunders.

The whole project is the result of a non-profit called Startup Middle School. Patrick Gusman is the founder.

"Right now, if you asked most of these kids 'could you be the next Mark Zuckerberg, could you be the next Bill Gates' no because they would not have seen the connections," stated Gusman.

Thanks to Gusman's creativity and Saunders' experience, they are making those connections. It's not just coming up with the idea, they even learn how to keep customers comin back by using something called push notifications in their app.

"Who here uses Instagram?" Saunders asked the group. "So you know when someone comments on one of your photos you get a notification, when you get a notification you go back into the app and look at it again ... because that's what the advertisers, that's what the venture capitalists want to see that people use your app constantly."

Courtney Brown-Lewis says they have that covered for Budget Buddies. "Whenever you get your paycheck they would send you a pie chart as well as a table of information to tell you how much money to put towards each bill," said Brown-Lewis.

Money management for teenagers sounds pretty cool all of the sudden, right? They're even getting the commercials ready.

"Our tag line is 'every budget needs a buddy,' which basically means we're that buddy to help you manage your budget," explained Ryon Henderson.

If you have a cool school send an email to me at mhydeck@wusa9.com or find me on Twitter @mikehydeck
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