Business Program Excites Local Students

Posted On On: February 20, 2018 Categories Filed Under: Member News

There is an award-winning summer program that since 1979 has been exciting the imaginations of high school students throughout Pennsylvania about the world of business and private enterprise. That program, Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), will be celebrating its 40th storied year this July and August.

PFEW was founded specifically to teach rising high school juniors and seniors to understand and celebrate the American private enterprise system and what it means to our country. Starting in 1979 with an initial class of fewer than 100 students for a single one-week session, PFEW now annually holds five sessions in July and August on the campuses of Lycoming College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology, both located in Williamsport, PA.  PFEW expects to receive over 3,400 applications from students across the state eagerly hoping to be in one of the 2,200 seats slotted for this year’s program.

The focus of each session is to group the participants into management teams of junior executives who have inherited underperforming imaginary companies. These teams, under the guidance of volunteer “executives-on-loan” called Company Advisors, operate their firms for a computer simulated three-year period of time. To add a sense of reality, they are competing against two other student companies manufacturing and distributing the same product. These fledgling corporate executives are faced with the same decisions business people confront daily. They work with balance sheets, statements of income, marketing and advertising concepts, etc., and must react to a variety of external factors including global competition, political unrest, government policy decisions, and other unknowns. Sound familiar?

PFEW is designed to give every participant an idea of real-world relevant issues facing today’s businesses. Each day’s activities include four to five presentations from world-class speakers from across the nation who deliver talks that both inspire and motivate our young entrepreneurs for their futures. Does it work? Consider the following quote from James Armstrong of Downingtown STEM Academy, “As a current DECA state officer I have already been exposed to the business world and had leadership experience, but nothing as intense and effective as PFEW. The integration of both finance and marketing at PFEW enabled a well-rounded and all-encompassing experience. Never has my leadership ability been challenged as much as this week, which was good for my growth.”

The Chamber is proud to support PFEW and encourages our local companies and civic organizations to provide sponsorship for our students and, if possible, volunteers for the sessions. Every student attends PFEW on a fully tax-deductible $575 scholarship (the actual value of the scholarship is approximately $1,500) which is provided by a local firm, foundation, civic organization or individual. PFEW is also an approved Educational Improvement Organization through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Each student wears the name of their sponsor throughout the week and writes them after graduation to report on what they have learned.

If you would like to learn more about this award-winning program and how you can help, please call the Chamber directly or contact Scott Lee, vice president of marketing & development for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education at (814) 833-9576 ext. 8, or e-mail him at PFEW is open to all current sophomores and juniors in Pennsylvania and information on attendance, as well as program applications, can also be found on the PFEW website. Questions can be directed to Amber Goss, Schools Manager for PFEW, by calling her office at (814) 833-9576 ext. 6 or emailing her at