The Mini-Economy program was brought to the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-1990s by Martha Hopkins, who then was the SVEE-funded teacher consultant working out of the JMU Center for Economic Education.
How does the Mini-Economy work?
In a Mini-Economy, students develop a self-organizing economic society with the consultative guidance of the teacher, driven by the need to resolve a classroom situation involving the fundamental economic issues of scarcity and allocation of resources. The children begin to identify opportunities in their environment and initiate entrepreneurship ventures to provide goods and services to their fellow citizens.
Since 1997, the Shenandoah Valley’ has had its own GEM Fair. “GEM Fair” stands for Global Entrepreneurship Marketplace Fair. Each year the GEM Fair brings together hundreds of Shenandoah Valley students for a simulated international market. Beginning in 2016, the presentation sponsor of the GEM Fair is Union Bank & Trust.
How do the children benefit?
The Mini-Economy is based on the belief that experience is the best teacher. The Mini-Economy is an ongoing process of directly experiencing mature entrepreneurship, economic, social, ethical, and political problems, exploring various resolutions and their implications, and instituting solutions and experiencing the consequences of one’s decisions.