Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) is a summer program that offers high school juniors and seniors a unique opportunity to see what it is like to run their own business. PFEW excites students about free enterprise, teamwork, finance, advertising and giving back.
Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week has grown into a statewide effort offered during five separate week-long sessions in July and August on the campuses of Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, both located in Williamsport, PA. Over 2,000 students and 250 business executives from across the Commonwealth now participate in the program each year. To date, over 46,000 young Pennsylvanians have benefited from this unique concept in economic education.
While there are other entities that offer economic education, PFEW is the only model of its kind globally that provides students a week-long residential experience on a college campus with the unique opportunity of operating fictitious corporations using a computer model developed and licensed specifically for FFEE. In addition to those activities, students hear from world-class speakers throughout their seven-day journey on virtually every aspect of business and what is germane to the American economy in today’s increasingly global marketplace. No other program offers such a model. PFEW graduates are also awarded automatic scholarships, above and beyond any additional financial aid for which they may qualify, from our host colleges should they choose to attend one of their campuses. ($20,000 for Lycoming College, $8,000 for Pennsylvania College of Technology.)
PFEW participants form teams of approximately 18-20 students and one business executive-on-loan. This team becomes the simulated management team of an underperforming company in direct competition with other student companies. All teams are competing for the title of Top Company by the end of the week and the winners will receive their very own share in stock. Each company must determine, through 12 simulated business quarters, their selling price, marketing costs, production budgets, banking needs, and research and development costs – in short, most of the decisions managing an actual business typically requires. In addition, the team must determine their marketing strategy, create a print and media campaign, and design a website. At the end of the week, all company members participate in a formal Stockholders Annual Meeting and a Marketing/Advertising Presentation to a panel of Judges, made up of volunteer business executives.
By the end of each student’s seven-day PFEW journey they will leave with:
1.) Knowledge of typical business operations – Each company charts its performance over the 12-quarter period. At the end of the week, all company members must demonstrate their understanding of not only what happened to their company, but why, and present detailed financial statements for two years of operations.
2.) Understanding of Marketing and Advertising Concepts – Each company develops an advertising campaign that must be consistent with their respective product and marketing strategy. As part of this campaign, they must develop both print and broadcast advertising collateral as well as a website design. Their ideas must be original, and each team must only use official PFEW supplies provided to them at the beginning of the week. This helps to cultivate their artistic and creative abilities to come up with the best way to market their product to their target audience.
3.) Appreciation of the Free Enterprise System – Participants listen to speakers from businesses throughout the state on subjects that are germane and important to the health of our state’s business community.
4.) Ethics and Values – Students learn the value of teamwork, cooperation, and leadership. They are also provided with an invaluable opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills.