Several Downtown Ventura businesses have partnered with Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) in the second year of the Vision to Marketplace pilot program, which matches local merchants with VUSD Career Technical Education (CTE) students.
This pilot program introduces and teaches students about entrepreneurship, product design, development, and delivering products to market. Career Technical Education students go through the process of evaluating market demand, visioning, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and selling wholesale products to participating Downtown businesses for December holiday sales. Funds from the wholesale purchases go back into the participating CTE programs.
Dr. Rene Rickard, VUSD’s Chief Innovation Officer, shared that “the goal of this collaboration is to provide authentic opportunities for students to pursue their passion in Career Technical Education. We are grateful to the business owners who have been so generous with their time and expertise as they provide students with real-world experiences. We look forward to continuing to expand this program in future years.”
Students met with Downtown business owners to determine viable products for sale in their shops. Participating businesses then provided mentoring and feedback on prototyped manufactured products and placed orders. Students produced and delivered products to the stores at the end of November in time for holiday sales.
To help facilitate production, participating students were provided access to the new IDEA Center manufacturing lab in the heart of Ventura’s Westside. The IDEA center is a dedicated community center for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Art, created by the non-profit organization STEMbassadors. The center provides training and access to industry-standard equipment such as laser cutters, CNC routers, direct-to-garment printers, 3D printers, and other advanced machinery.
Angela Rosales, owner of Very Ventura Gift Shop & Gallery, has helped bring this program to life. “As entrepreneurs ourselves, we enjoy the opportunity to give back to our community by sharing our experience and knowledge with students. While it is a learning process for all of us, it’s been impressive to see the creativity and initiative the students have put into their designs. We are excited to be selling their locally crafted products in our stores, and the customer response has been great too.”
Student-made products created through the Vision to Marketplace program are available at several downtown businesses, including Very Ventura Gift Shop & Gallery, Betty Belts, Ecugreen, Plum Gift Boutique, and Sea Things Ventura.
Businesses interested in participating in Vision to Marketplace may contact Joe Bova, VUSD’s CTE Administrator, at [email protected]