YES Brings Capitalism to The Classroom.

The Mini-Economy program teaches the principles of capitalism to K-12 students in the Shenandoah Valley. Martha Hopkins, who was then the Yes-funded teacher advocate and consultant working in partnership with the JMU Center for Economic Education, introduced the program to the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-1990s. The Mini-Economy is a classroom simulation which allows students to learn real world lessons on how markets work in a setting of mixed capitalism. Through the Mini-Economy, students:

  • Develop their own classroom currency.
  • Discuss which jobs are necessary for their classroom economy.
  • Learn how to interview for the jobs they want.
  • Earn payment of their classroom currency by completing tasks.
  • Design and create goods or services that can be exchanged for classroom currency.
  • Decide how much to charge for their goods and services.
  • Gain an understanding for the role of advertising and marketing their goods or services.
  • Participate in a classroom “Market Day,” seeing how free enterprise and capitalism work first-hand.
  • Discover how producers and consumers interact within a market to determine prices.

This engaging and comprehensive simulation introduces students to fundamental economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity cost, allocation of limited resources, specialization, trade, working to earn money, capitalism vs. socialism, and saving money.

This enriching multidisciplinary curriculum incorporates math, language arts, visual arts, social studies, government, entrepreneurship, economics, and financial literacy.

School Economy Clubs Offer Mini-Economy Experience.

Many schools utilize the Mini-Economy as an after-school club enrichment activity for students. YES provides funding for the teacher advocate and consultant to help club sponsors navigate the Mini-Economy curriculum and develop lesson plans. All area Mini-Economies are invited to participate in the annual “GEM” Fair (Global Entrepreneurship Marketplace Fair) at JMU, a culminating highlight of the Mini-Economy experience. If you would be interested in supporting a club at your local elementary school, please donate here.

“GEM” Fair

Mini-Economies Culminate at International Market Day.

In partnership with Atlantic Union Bank, YES provides the leadership and financial support for an annual regional market day or “GEM” Fair for schools in the Shenandoah Valley. YES sponsored the first “GEM” Fair (Global Entrepreneurship Marketplace Fair) under the leadership of Martha Hopkins, the teacher advocate and consultant, in 1997.

Each year the GEM Fair brings hundreds of students from across the Valley to JMU’s campus to participate in a simulated international market. The GEM Fair is a culminating activity for the Mini-Economy giving students the opportunity to experience a Market Day on a much larger scale than would be possible in a smaller setting and more fully understand the concept of capitalism.

Visit Us for Information on Mini Economies and the “GEM” Fair.
Teachers: Get the master checklist for GEM Fair participation!
Get the template for the money design contest
Download a blank GEM Fair business license form
“What I Learned in Mini Economy” Essay Form
Nominate a Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Register Your Class For The GEM Fair!