The Askinosie Chocolate team is truly dedicated to the Chocolate University mission – “to inspire students to become global citizens and understand that businesses can solve world problems” – throughout the year.
Typical Chocolate University engagement with middle school students happens through classroom visits at Pipkin Middle School during the school year. The daily, half-day curriculum possible through the SPS Summer Explore program as a unique opportunity to share the unique Askinosie business approach and really explore information about our chocolate farmer partners and origin communities. The Chocolate University Summer Explore students are able to engage with the Askinosie team members at a high level to learn quite a bit about chocolate making, Askinosie business models and the company’s global reach. Chocolate University Executive Director Missy Gelner shares, “Askinosie is thrilled to extend our relationship with the Springfield Public Schools into the Summer Explore thematic format. The daily class schedule, unique factory environment and project based format offers a truly unique learning experience, with lots of bonus chocolate samples.”
- Week one topics help students get acquainted with the unique elements of the Askinosie business model through lessons on cocoa history, direct trade and profit sharing with farmers. After a VIP tour of the factory and cocoa bean storage location, students enjoy an immersive Chocolate 101 tasting and began to appreciate the different flavors in dark chocolate. Students then take the reins to rewrite the Askinosie Factory Tour catered to specific, real-world audience and prepare to present their work to a team from the company for a chocolatey award. “The students’ factory tour presentations this week blew right past my high expectations – the topics were relevant for the assigned audience and the presentations were articulate, thoughtful and super creative. We will certainly incorporate some of these ideas to make our factory tours even more fun and meaningful,” shared Gelner.
- Week two of the program focuses on corporate identity and product marketing. Students learn about brand identity, product innovation and development, product marketing and packaging. Each student explorer creates a corporate identity and new chocolate product concept. Explorers present their ideas and product mock ups to the class and company representatives. Ideas are voted upon by peers and top scoring concepts are awarded with delicious chocolate prizes.
- In the third week, the curriculum deepens student understanding of the direct trade concept with participation in a cocoa farmer simulation game to personalize the realities of a cocoa farmer’s daily life and business decisions. During this week, student explorers are offered the opportunity to virtually converse (via Skype and Email) with an Askinosie farmer in Davao, Philippines, and also spend classroom time connecting with farmer partners in Mababu, Tanzania, via an Askinosie field representative onsite in the Tanzanian village.
- Week four conversations circle back to the ideas of vocation, fulfillment and doing good through business which differentiate Askinosie from many other small batch chocolate makers. Students explore the concept of personal vision and goal setting. Students learn that a personal vision can be defined as “hope + a plan” and are led through a detailed, step by step approach to write their own vision including reflection, goal setting and planning for their own “future of greatness.”