Times Are Tight For This Nonprofit. So They Are Getting Into The For-profit business

By Ryan Mckinnon
The Bradenton Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Take Stock in Children of Manatee County” — the non-profit providing mentors and college scholarships to the county’s neediest children established the for-profit LLC “Creativity Camps” in April as a way to generate more revenue for the non-profit.

MANATEE

Decked out in lab coats and goggles, a group of middle school students at Braden River Middle School was focused on discovering the contents of a dead man’s stomach Thursday morning.

The activity — which did not include an actual dead body — was one of several morbidly wonderful experiments that students in Creativity Camp’s CSI-Forensics Camp were completing during their week as crime scene investigators.

On Wednesday, they analyzed blood splatters.

Creativity Camps debuted in Manatee County this summer. The programs are marketed as high-end educational experiences, targeting children with parents willing to pay on average $400 per week. A California-based camp that brings in more than $20 million annually is the model for camp organizers.

Given Creativity Camp’s lofty fiscal goals, its parent organization may be surprising: Take Stock in Children of Manatee County — the non-profit providing mentors and college scholarships to the county’s neediest children.

Take Stock established the for-profit LLC Creativity Camps in April as a way to generate more revenue for the non-profit. It is a path most famously paved by the Girl Scouts of America, whose for-profit cookie-selling business provides the non-profit scouting organization with millions in annual funding.

“The Take Stock board was struggling with how to get to the budget level we want. They raised the question of, ‘Why can’t we create a business,’ ” said Len Brzozowski, a semi-retired entrepreneur who helped launch Creativity Camps.

The board assembled a team of educators and entrepreneurs who began brainstorming how to earn money. After deciding to begin a camp, the group solicited proposals from 12 teachers and then narrowed those down to eight and posted them to Take Stock’s web page. The three that generated the most interest — measured via clicks — got the green light. In addition to the CSI camp, Creativity Camps is running a graphic novel writing camp at Braden River Elementary and a robotics camp at Lakewood Ranch High School.

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