WeThrive: Thrived This Summer

2023 Summer WeThrive

In late spring 2023, San Jose Public Library’s TeenHQ put out a call for any in-coming high school students to participate in our WeThrive High School Entrepreneur Summer Camp. The goal of the camp was to walk youth through the complete process of creating a small business, selling products, and becoming more financially stable.

At the start of summer in June, we had eleven eager teens show up to our first meeting and stay throughout the course of the summer. What had these teens signed up for and promised to dedicate practically their entire summer to? WeThrive.


WeThrive is a non-profit organization that creates and maintains a learning website and mobile app to help “youth identify solutions to problems in their local community, hone skills as they build business plans, and launch real micro-enterprises where they keep the revenue generated” (WeThrive).

WeThrive trained our Library staff to be leaders to the youth in the camp and help determine the best schedule for implementing the camp over the summer’s 8-week period.

Youth were expected to complete self-guided lessons outside of meetings on Social Impact, Solving Real Problems, Products & Services, Target Audience, Differentiation, Costs, Suppliers, Marketing & Outreach, Channels of Distribution, and more.

In meet-up sessions that were twice a week, youth and the librarian explored these topics further and discussed how each topic applied to the youth's budding businesses. As the camp progressed, youth were challenged to think of a problem they wanted to solve, come up with a product that solved that problem, and how they could get that product out onto the market.

As part of the WeThrive model, all businesses created during the program receive up to $50 in seed funding to start creating their products. Out of the eleven youth who attended the camp, seven businesses were formed - some group businesses and some solo. WeThrive also provided printed signage featuring each business’s logo to help them promote during the Pop-Up Market.

MakerSpace: Shaping Ideas and Products

One of the best perks of offering WeThrive through the King Library’s TeenHQ space, was youth were able to utilize the MakerSpace to develop and create their products. Many teens utilized the button maker to create logo buttons to give away to potential customers, while others used sewing machines to create scrunchies and handbags to sell. One group used the Cricut machine to create a stencil to paint their logo onto canvas bags. Several groups used the large format printer to create posters to advertise their business and market their products. One of the biggest highlights for youth was utilizing the MakerSpace at TeenHQ.

“...I utilized the TeenHQ MakerSpace during the Summer Camp to create prototypes and samples of the products I planned to sell in my small business. The MakerSpace was extremely useful as it provided access to various tools and equipment, enabled me to turn my ideas into tangible products and refine them before launching my business.”
- Youth Participant

“...I think I couldn’t have done anything without the MakerSpace. It was so so so helpful and people there could explain things and help me out with stuff. I couldn’t have made handbags without the sewing machine there!”
- Youth Participant

Youth were also able to put out donation requests to receive materials to help make their products from library staff.

“I was super grateful for ALL of the many clothes donation – that will set me up for a long time.”
- Youth Participant

“...We used the Cricut Cutter and the art supplies which were very useful in the design process of our product.”
- Youth Participant

Products, Pop-Up Market, Profits & Positives

Camp youth worked throughout the eight-week period to develop their brand and products. By the end of the camp, the products included: scrunchies, pouches, keychains, tote bags, hand-made handbags, bracelets and necklaces, earrings, paintings, and an educational app.

The summer camp’s final meeting was at the Almaden Community Center, where the businesses had their Pop-Up Market. With the help of the Almaden Friends and Teens Reach Groups, the WeThrive Summer Camp youth were able to meet their customers and sell their products. Since all of the youth started their businesses with seed funding provided by WeThrive, they were able to take home cash profits at the end of the Market. In total, all businesses took in a total of $396.00. Two of the highest grossing businesses took home $90.00 each over the course of the two and a half hour sale.

At the end of the camp, every youth left with cash in-hand and all said they had a great time. From the post-survey, all youth who responded said they would recommend WeThrive to other youth who want to start a business.

“The WeThrive Summer Camp provided valuable hands-on experience and mentorship, empowering teens to learn the ins and outs of creating and managing a small business.”
- Youth Participant

“As a teen, I found the lessons during the group time to be highly helpful as they allowed us to learn from each other’s perspectives and experiences, fostering a collaborative and supportive learning experience that enriched our understanding of the business concepts and challenges.”
- Youth Participant

WeThrive in the Future

After such a successful summer and great feedback from the participants, we are planning the winter 2024 WeThrive experience. We will be making some changes, like moving to solely in-person meetings, trying to expand the seed funding to better help youth extend the creativity of their products, expanding the timeline for more product creation time, and further refining the program. Look for program sign-ups starting in December 2023.

Looking for More?

TeenHQ has more programs like this one throughout the year. Check out our ARTrepreneur programs happening between now and March 2024, as well as other TeenHQ programming.


Contact Jess Lundin - jessica.lundin@sjlibrary.org