CHAMPAIGN – Selling lemonade is a time-honored tradition for kids – the first step to having a paper route, cutting grass and baby-sitting.
But on May 2, all those pint-sized vendors will have to take salesmanship to the hilt.
That's because as many as 1,000 kids in Champaign-Urbana are expected to operate lemonade stands as part of "Lemonade Day 2010."
The event is a project of Prepared 4 Life, a national venture that encourages entrepreneurship. Champaign-Urbana is one of 17 communities across the country involved in the project this year, thanks to the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Illinois.
This is no run-of-the-mill, set-up-a-table-on-the-sidewalk-for-an-hour project.
Kids are encouraged to set goals, develop a business plan, establish a budget, seek investors, provide customer service and give back to the community.
They're challenged to pick a good location and get permission from the property owner to sell there.
They can sell any time of day, though Prepared 4 Life recommends noon to 5 p.m.
The biggest challenge may be the weather. Early May could be great for lemonade if you're in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles or some other cities participating.
But the average high temperature in Champaign-Urbana on May 2 is 68 degrees and the average low is 47. It did get up to 89 in 1901, but the temperature dropped to 28 in 1889.
If it's any comfort, cities in colder climes – including Minneapolis-St. Paul and Anchorage, Alaska – are also planning to be part of Lemonade Day.
In Champaign-Urbana, awards will be given for Best Tasting Lemonade, Best Lemonade Stand and Best Business.
Youths of all ages – even high schoolers – can participate. However, a parent or guardian must sign a consent form agreeing that a responsible adult will assist and supervise.
John Clarke, executive director of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, said he hopes 1,000 local kids will participate the first year.
Already, Busey Bank and Worden-Martin have signed on as initial sponsors, and community leaders, school districts and Scouting organizations have been briefed on the project, he said.
Kids will get workbooks giving "how-to" tips, and the adults they're paired with will also have a manual.
Prepared 4 Life is a Houston-based nonprofit organization founded by Michael and Lisa Holthouse in 2005. Michael Holthouse co-founded Paranet Inc. in 1991 and sold the computer network services firm in 1997 to Sprint for $375 million. Today he's chairman of Prepared 4 Life.
Holthouse grew up in Richmond, Ind., in a family that owned a chain of furniture stores. He studied economics and computer science, moved to Texas and, after working for several companies, founded Paranet at age 34.
At Tuesday's launch for Lemonade Day in Champaign-Urbana, Holthouse said he started Prepared 4 Life because he's concerned about at-risk kids. He said he wants children to understand the value of hard work, setting goals and going into business.
"There are many kids who are bright and capable, but they can't see the opportunity that the greatest country in the world affords them," he said. "They need to learn what the American dream is all about."
Holthouse said he believes that entrepreneurs are made, not born.
"You don't have to be a super salesman or gregarious or a visionary," he said. "You just have to provide a service to a group of individuals."
Communities participating in Lemonade Day 2010:
Fort Hood/Killeen, Texas
Minneapolis/St Paul, Minn.
San Francisco/Bay Area
Wayne County, Ind.