Faison students connect with local Black entrepreneurs

At Pittsburgh Faison, whose nickname is the “lions,” the students have “ROARed” all the way to the bank.

“ROAR” stands for Respectful, On-Task, Appropriate, and Responsible. And about 200 Faison K-5 students “ROARed” into the school gym on Friday, Dec. 13, with $15 vouchers in hand to purchase Christmas gifts—for family members, or themselves—from local Black businesses.

It’s like killing two birds with one stone—not only were the Faison students learning in the classroom, but seeing African Americans from their own community and the surrounding communities as entrepreneurs shows them that they, too, could one day own their own business.

“They see somebody like them, Black with a business, and there might be a young entrepreneur at Faison,” said Robert Hunter, who runs Kandy Girl Kouture with his wife, Jessica. “Everywhere they go to spend their money, it’s nobody like them, it’s always somebody else, so I feel like it was good for them to see that they do have people in their culture that have a business that sells things and comes to them. That will give them a push so they can become what they want to become and do what they want to do, and see that they’re not limited.”

In addition to Kandy Girl Kouture, there were, among others, Clean & Classy Candle Co. from Ravin Scott, Pearls & Pretty Things (Paparazzi Accessories Inc.) from Karla Payne, enticing bakeries from Gamble Family Bakes, and The Earring Lady.

The “Last Chance Holiday Market,” as it’s billed, was made possible at Faison via a partnership between the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Operation Better Block and CKV Suites, which is operated by Vernard Alexander. A similar event for the general public occurred the following day, Dec. 14, at CKV Suites on Homewood Avenue.

“Most importantly, I think it was very important that our Black students saw Black businesses right in front of them, so I think it was a win-win all the way around,” Alexander told the New Pittsburgh Courier.

In a release, Pittsburgh Public Schools said that the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports model rewards students who exemplify positive behavior, and that “through this holiday market, these students will reap the benefits of being responsible and respectful.”

Jessica Booker Hunter said she sold 107 items to the Faison students, while Payne also labeled the Faison event a success. “The jewelry was very popular because it’s eye-catching for the kids. I saw a lot of ‘Wow!’ when they walked in the gym,” Payne said.

Scott’s all-natural, hand-made candles were also a hit with the kids. “I love children, I have three of my own, so to be able to interact with the kids and to assist them and provide gifts for them and their family for the holidays was a great opportunity for me.”

STUDENTS FROM PITTSBURGH FAISON enjoyed Christmas shopping with local Black businesses at their school, Dec. 13. (Feature Photo)

by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer

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