PFEW is a summer program that offers high school juniors and seniors a unique and challenging opportunity to see what it is like to run their own business. Clayton D. Sommers, president of Clarion State College and later deputy commissioner of higher education, brought the idea of a practical hands-on business education program to Raymond G. Weber, then executive director of the Manufacturer’s Association of Erie. PFEW was born in 1979, the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education was established as the governing body of Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week, and in 1980 was incorporated as an educational foundation, enabling it to accept charitable contributions. Outgrowing the Clarion campus within two years, PFEW moved the site of its summer program first to Penn State University, later to Lock Haven University, and in 1990 to its current host campus of Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. PFEW expanded to an additional host campus, Pennsylvania College of Technology, in 2008. Students come to PFEW from over 1,000 high schools throughout Pennsylvania. These students attend thanks to scholarships contributed by over 800 businesses, foundations, and civic organizations across the state. PFEW is designed to give these young people first-hand experience with American free market economics and help them understand how our economy, and its health, affects them no matter what career path they may follow. Through its unique hands-on approach, and direct interaction and teamwork with both business leaders and peers, PFEW has now broadened the view of American business for nearly 50,000 student graduates.
A few of our very own students from Uniontown Area High School got the chance to be a part of it. Senior Karleigh Risha had the opportunity to attend the PFEW camp. I asked Karleigh about her experience at the camp and she said that she had a really good experience. She said, “They learned a lot about the business world and a lot about being an entrepreneur. Her team at the camp had a really good mentor which really helped a lot and her team worked really good together. PFEW is a really good way to see life in the real world and get a look into what life will be like outside of high school”.
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