University Economic Development Association


Award Category: Talent Development
Project Site: Lemonade Day Alaska
Submitted By: University of Alaska Center for Economic Development
Contact: Johnna Golden, 907.786.5445/td>

Case Study


This program addresses a missing element in many youth education programs, the mission is to help prepare youth for life through fun, proactive and experiential programs infused with life skills, character education, and entrepreneurship.

Lemonade Day provides children with the opportunity to learn how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace and create the foundation for future success in the global economy. The foremost objective is to help today’s youth become the business leaders, social advocates, community volunteers and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow.

The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development (UACED) initially brought Lemonade Day to Alaska in 2011, when 1,000 youth participated in the city of Anchorage. The program was well received in the community and 94% of the youth who participated indicated they would participate again the following year. For 2012, the Lemonade Day Alaska team took the program statewide. The expansion was explosive and impactful. Over and over, the UACED staff heard individuals in new participating communities express their gratitude for the opportunity to seamlessly integrate this type of program into their community.


The foremost objective of Lemonade Day is to empower youth to take ownership of their lives and become productive members of society – the business leaders, social advocates, volunteers, and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow.

There are two distinct components of Lemonade Day. First, there is a learning experience through which a child and a caring adult exercise a step-by-step process of starting a business. This process has proven to have a dramatic impact on a child’s understanding of how to be an entrepreneur in any industry. The second component is the actual implementation of the business, which takes place on Lemonade Day, held annually on the first Sunday in May.

The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development has worked extensively to make Lemonade Day Alaska a success. The UACED has worked to build a network of community champions and volunteers to support the program. Lemonade Day Alaska built partnerships in eight hub communities across the state. The UACED staff recruited volunteer program city managers in numerous communities who handled local operations with support and guidance from the UACED staff. Bi-weekly meetings were held telephonically with all city managers to maintain program continuity and ensure positive progress across the state from January until Lemonade Day.

By having a coordinated network of volunteers at the city level, Lemonade Day Alaska is able to reduce costs and make the program viable long term. Lemonade Day Alaska has leveraged its local resources to gain financial support for the program, primarily through university support and corporate donations. Lemonade Day Alaska has established a sponsorship program in which companies are able to make donations to the program in exchange for recognition as a sponsor. This past year Lemonade Day Alaska received contributions from companies like ConocoPhillips and Wal-Mart.

Lemonade Day Alaska has worked to bring together many community partners in order to present an enriching program for Alaskan youth. One of Lemonade Day Alaska’s most engaged partners is the Anchorage School District (Social Studies Curriculum and School to Business Partnership). The Anchorage School District has worked with the UACED to get information about Lemonade Day Alaska to all of the social studies teachers in the Anchorage School District, further helping the outreach efforts of the UACED.

Additionally, Carol Comeau, the former superintendent of the Anchorage School District, has served as a vocal advocate of Lemonade Day Alaska. She has appeared in many promotional materials for the program and also helped to make the initial push to get the curriculum in front of the teachers in the district. Lemonade Day Alaska also partners with many businesses across the state. These business partners are essential in providing youth with mentors in the entrepreneurship field, as well as to provide youth with safe places to house their stands.

Much of Lemonade Day Alaska’s funding comes from community business support as well in the form of sponsorships. One of Lemonade Day Alaska’s partnerships in 2012 was with Lowe’s, who hosted a stand building workshop in which Lowe’s employees worked with participating youth to design a lemonade stand. Another partner, Credit Union One, hosted a workshop on financial literacy in several Alaskan cities. The UACED has worked hard to cultivate these partnerships over the years, and plans are in place to build even more in 2013.

Lemonade Day Alaska and the UACED have also developed many other partnerships with area organizations as well. These organizations include local foundations, youth-serving organizations, chambers of commerce, city governments, universities, and economic organizations. In total, Lemonade Day Alaska had over 50 community partners in 2012, a number that will grow in 2013.

By cultivating all of these community partnerships, the UACED has developed a highly replicable program in Lemonade Day Alaska. The partnership building, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment are all things that would be much easier to do in a community that doesn’t face the same geographic challenges as Alaska. Other states can easily look to what has worked with Lemonade Day Alaska when they develop their own Lemonade Day program. The UACED and Lemonade Day Alaska have worked with businesses both large and small and communities both near and far to create a truly community-connected campus.


Lemonade Day Alaska is all about: family, entrepreneurship, personal growth, and giving back. More than 2,500 Alaskan youth registered for the program in 2012. This is up by 1,500 compared to our inaugural year with the program in 2011. When thinking of the benefits that Lemonade Day Alaska provides, it’s important to look beyond just the numbers. Lemonade Day Alaska is about much more than just entrepreneurship. Lemonade Day Alaska is about personal growth, experiential learning, building a sense of community, strengthening family bonds, and instilling positive values in the next generation of Alaska’s leaders.

Entire communities, regardless of size, can be involved in this meaningful program. All across the state store owners opened up their storefronts to host lemonade stands, in some cases even mentoring the youth who participated. One of the other great benefits of Lemonade Day Alaska is its concept of experiential learning. By giving youth the opportunity to go out and learn first-hand, Lemonade Day Alaska is better preparing Alaska’s youth for the challenges of tomorrow.
For many youth participating in the program, Lemonade Day Alaska is the first opportunity they have ever been given to take ownership over something. The understanding that they have control over their own success or failure gives youth incentive to become more engaged in the process, oftentimes experiencing a tremendous amount of growth during the course of the program. Many youth struggle find new ways to change their business as the event goes on, or even make plans for improvements the following year. They look for a new location, build a nicer stand, or simply work on developing a better product.

One of the other great benefits of Lemonade Day Alaska is that it allows participants a chance to reinforce what they are already learning in school. The Lemonade Day Alaska curriculum covers many topics that youth learn in school, but Lemonade Day gives them an opportunity to learn through doing. Evidence suggests that people learn exponentially better when given the opportunity to actively participate in the learning process, as opposed to merely being lectured to. By giving youth the opportunity to learn by doing, youth are better able to learn the concepts they are taught in school. Youth have so much fun participating in the program that they don’t even realize they are learning a curriculum.

Lemonade Day Alaska’s curriculum is designed to improve a plethora of skills, including economics, reading, marketing, math, business, public speaking, and many more. From a quantitative standpoint, Lemonade Day Alaska has had a tremendous impact on the community it serves. In 2012, Lemonade Day Alaska registered over 2,500 Alaskan youth, who generated total revenue of over $287,000. Perhaps even more spectacular is that Lemonade Day Alaska participants donated over $68,000 of their revenue to local charities in 2012. In total, 74% of Lemonade Day Alaska participants made a charitable contribution. Additionally, 52% of Lemonade Day Alaska participants opened their first savings account as a result of the program. All in all, Lemonade Day Alaska was a resounding success in 2012, as 94% of participants said that they plan on participating next year. Lemonade Day Alaska has had a tremendous impact on the clients it serves, and the numbers back it up.

Future Considerations

In 2013, Lemonade Day Alaska will continue its push toward long term sustainability as it looks to reduce costs and raise additional sponsorship funding. Lemonade Day national has recognized the superb work being done by the UACED and has even looked toward Alaska as being a model for other statewide programs across the US and Canada.

Looking to 2013, the Lemonade Day Staff have goals to streamline internal processes and include more volunteers to minimize the expense of staff time and increase community buy-in to the program. In addition, our goals include expansion to at least 5 more participating communities within the state, bring in more sponsors, community partners, business partners, and increase awareness regarding the program.

“It is important that we teach future generations the importance of responsible business practices and instill the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age – an age that allows them to have hope and vision to excel in the future,” says founder, Michael Holthouse, “Our goal is to reach kids as a critical stage in their lives – that time when they are at a crossroads between a very good or bad path.”

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Chattanooga on October 22, 2012. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.