Mission Possible: Entrepreneurship to Bridge the Gap Between School and the Real World – Digital Promise

Mission Possible: Entrepreneurship to Bridge the Gap Between School and the Real World

In 2021, educators from throughout the United States of America were invited to participate in the Maker Learning @ Home cohort, a six-month professional learning experience for educators committed to continuing opportunities for making while learners are at home.

Throughout their work, cohort members documented the planning, design, and implementation of their projects, as well as offering reflections and lessons learned.

Glamorous Gemz

Danielle Rountree is the founder and CEO of Glamorous Gemz mentoring program. Giving birth at an early age brought on her desire to help others with fewer resources succeed and accomplish their goals. She believes female empowerment should be at an all-time high because self-esteem is at an all-time low. “It is my job as the leading mentor, to show young ladies their true self-worth. It’s been a life dream to create an organization of empowerment, reassurance, and self-recognition. I pride myself on being the Leading Gem that exudes positivity and encouragement. My mentees will be a reflection of the organization.”

Headshot of Danielle Rountree at a laptop computer.
Danielle Rountree - Founder and CEO

Danielle Brantley serves as a grant writer and program coordinator for Glamorous Gemz. As a former English teacher, program coordinator, and volunteer, Danielle gained more than 10 years of experience helping youth and nonprofits. She says that her superpower is channeling her passion for service into persuasive writing, painting a vivid picture for every cause she takes on. “I love helping people be the change by conveying their voice and mission to the world.”

Headshot of Danielle Brantley
Danielle Brantley- Grant Writer and Program Coordinator

About Glamorous Gemz

Community Needs and Collaboration

The ultimate goal of Mission Possible’s launch was to educate and empower learners to start, scale, and use their businesses to begin saving for future college and/or career expenses. Learners were matched with mentors who have similar businesses and careers to provide meaningful job shadowing opportunities. At the completion of Mission Possible, each Gem shared their learnings with our partners by presenting their businesses at a pop-up shop.

This project was inspired by the lack of knowledge I had when starting my own business. When we don’t have the appropriate assistance we tend to make mistakes. The goal of Glamorous Gemz is to prevent our mentees from making the same mistakes while developing an entrepreneurial mindset. We worked with local business owners and the Chamber of Commerce to establish relationships with community partners who could sponsor and/or mentor learners.
Danielle Rountree

21st-century skills are essential for learners to succeed inside and outside the classroom. To prepare for the workforce of the future, learners need to master the four C’s of 21st-century learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The initial Mission Possible experience taught learners 21st-century skills by teaching them how to launch scalable businesses. We know that entrepreneurship is more than simply running a business; it is learning how to identify problems, create innovative solutions, communicate with customers and investors, and more. Throughout the process of learning how to start their own businesses, learners acquired entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy skills essential for college, careers, and life.

Learner Voice and Choice

  • To better understand how our learners wanted to engage in the Mission Possible experience, we created and distributed a survey to determine each learner’s interest in entrepreneurship and to assess their learning styles.
  • Each learner chose a business idea or problem they wanted to solve.


  • Regular feedback was given between lessons as learners progressed to support them at each stage of developing their business.
  • We recorded lessons to provide learners with multiple ways to access lessons at times and locations that worked best for them.
  • Lessons incorporated visuals, charts, and images to enhance lessons and provide a range of formats, such as narrative texts.

Project Culmination

Glamorous Gemz youth participants with their facilitator. A group of young, Black participants. All are wearing Glamorous Gemz face masks.

Participants had a great deal of choice in how they wrapped up their projects. Some options included:

  • Pop-Up Shop – sell their products/services at a real pop-up shop event.
  • Shark Tank – present their business to local business owners who served as judges and offered suggestions on how to improve their business.

The project culmination can be a community learning experience that includes parents, other learners, educators, and community members. Educators can discuss the project to share the benefits of maker learning and youth entrepreneurship. Learners can share their experiences to highlight some of their learning, applying 21st century skills like communication/public speaking, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.

Lessons Learned

Lean on what people know and love.

As learners progress throughout a project, facilitators can use content specific to their areas of interest/business for instruction and inspiration.

Pilot programs to learn best practices.

Since this was a pilot project, we did not start with mentors and sponsors. Though, we learned that they could have enhanced the project by teaching learners through sharing industry resources and job shadowing. The addition of mentors could have provided additional real-world connections.

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