Kids Can: Youth Entrepreneur Program

Program Description

The goal of Kids Can is to inspire creativity and innovation among youth in the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County with the aim of fostering successful entrepreneurship and business development skills at an early age, thus teaching area youth important life lessons such as leadership, speaking and confidence-building, self-reliance and personal empowerment, and financial and business literacy. New programs are underway such as Junior Chefs and “The Kids Café”, Junior Chemist, and The Babysitting Club. Youth will attend weekly “Super Saturdays”, after-school enrichment classes, and week-long camps. The Junior Chef will employ under-utilized kitchen space in the community, where youth may share facility’s kitchen and educational space to cook and learn kitchen concepts and safety, then show off what they learned with at “The Kids Cafe”. Youth showcase and grow their businesses monthly at the KC Junior Vendor Program at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market Saturdays from 8:30am- 1pm. 22 youth led businesses rotate on monthly basis.
In April and November of each year, workshops are held in advance of business building events to give youth the opportunity to receive valuable feedback. Youth circulate through business plan stations, get product feedback and practice making the perfect pitch, as well as ask questions of representatives from CAASNM, NMSU, the Green Chamber, the City’s Economic Development Department, and local business owners. The events also feature a motivational speakers and networking activities. These workshops are designed to prepare participants for success at the upcoming business showcase.
At the Spring Bazaar and Fall Showcase, youth take their products to be judged by area business leaders. Their products and business concepts are evaluated on most original business idea, highest business potential, and best presentation/creativity.

Eligibility Requirements

Youth Age 6-17

Arabella developed “Shrinky Chains” as her business building project with Kids Can Youth Entrepreneur program, starting in 6th grade. She was recently a community spotlight on local radio stations. She makes keychains and wine glass charms, from symbols of the Southwest to sports teams. She learned marketing and public speaking, as well as marketing, financial management, and logistics.

Her experiences with Kids Can have also given her confidence and independence, which she says have made her more ready to succeed in college.

Arabella's story

Muhammad came from Pakistan and found the culture challenging as well as financially, caring for older parents and raising his children. CAASNM’s family financial empowerment program helped him save for college with an IDA and also learn about finances and saving so he could buy a home and pay for his board exams. He is now a 4th year medical student with one semester left. “CAASNM staff were very helpful and like family to me. They helped me get through their program very easily.”

Muhammad's Story

A single mother of 3-year-old twins became a client of Thriving Families in 2019, referred by her physician. She was triaged to several community programs, including Aprendamos Early Intervention and HeadStart. She participated in an IDA program at CAASNM to save for education and which also improved her credit score. Her family became COVID-affected and was provided emergency assistance for utilities when she fell behind. Thriving Families continued its whole family approach to assist Bernice manage her family and also achieve her educational goals; she graduated with a degree in physiology from NMSU and will continue to her Master’s Degree.

Bernice’s Story

Jessica came to the first day of Kids Can Business Builders determined to do it alone. Our instructors could see no smile or willingness to join a group. As a group we shared what our hobbies are and what we do when we get home. Jessica loves to play video games all by herself after-school. Her favorite video game has a Llama character and is very popular with her peers. She felt like products with a llama would sell well at a Kids Can pop-up market. Then another young lady talked about how much she likes pink flamingos. They grouped their ideas together and created hand-woven “Flamas” and the “Flamaverse” (flamingos and llama together).  A new friendship formed and Jessica’s perspective of group work has changed. She is happier and more willing to contribute her ideas in class discussion on business topics and we can see these two girls talking and laughing, eating after-school snack together.

Jessica's Story

Annie is a participant in CAASNM’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) from Truth or Consequences.  She is a grandmother helping raise grandchildren and she also cares for her sick mother. Annie is very thankful for this program because it allows her to care for her mom and grandchildren. She has three grandchildren who live with her and she takes care of four grandchildren that don’t. The program reimburses her for nutritious food for all seven children in addition to her disabled mom.

Annie is a very special lady and has gone through a lot. She has been doing childcare for a long time. She cared for her sick father and then her husband before they passed away and now she is caring for her mom. She took a part time job at night with Walmart in-order to buy Christmas presents for of all her grandchildren, her brother and 18 year old grandson who stays to look after the children and Annie’s mom while she is working. She is a true success because she perseveres with all of her hardships, but with a little help from CAASNM.

Annie’s Story, Nutritious food for the family

Areas Served:

        • Doña Ana County