Learning and Earning

Why Earning and Learning?

High Rocks believes that one of the most powerful ways to change the future of West Virginia communities is through youth empowerment. Most of our young people are low-income, and too often they have to make the choice to work at low-end jobs instead of pursuing enrichment and advancement opportunities. We know our teens need to earn money; that is the financial reality of their families. We aim to create programs that build students’ resumes, their life skills, and necessary income, and while mentoring and planning for their futures.

Innovation and entrepreneurship lay at the heart of our journey ahead, not only as an organization, but as a state. To build a sustainable and healthy future for our region and our people, we need to invest in entrepreneurship and in opportunities for young people to earn and learn simultaneously.

Our goal is to build social enterprise ventures with young people in leadership roles. We will produce a triple-bottom line – people, profit, and place – by building young entrepreneurs, creating programs that are financially self-sustaining, and highlighting our Appalachian wealth in an environmentally-friendly way.

As we work to transition to a just economy for Appalachia, key partners and leverage points continue to emerge. Small business and non-profits (perhaps better known as “social profits”) will be a driving force in developing a strong, diverse local economy. Sectors including technology, cyber-security, local foods, agri-tourism, farm-to-table, STEM opportunities, and value-added products are emerging as exciting opportunities that we can explore.

Our Learning and Earning Programs

The Hub Café is a student café located at the High Rocks Hub. Through the High Rocks Hub student café, local youth who are interested in business have started a smoothie and snack bar. The young people manage this snack bar as their own business, with coaching from High Rocks staff and community volunteers. The high school students who have been hired to work at The Hub Café designed the menu, order inventory, set prices, and manage the income and expenses of the snack bar. Through managing the income and expenses of the snack bar, they are learning how to manage money in a real-life situation and will understand what it means to be financially stable when they are out of high school and out in the world living independently.

Tech Express is a computer and cell phone repair business that positions young people at the center of promising technology economic sectors and social entrepreneurship. The business is located at The Hub. The coach is a programmer from IBM. We work with our business plan canvas, price sheets, repair training, web presence, and workflow processes in partnership with our youth technicians. 

The Ruby Grow Gardens will grow organic vegetables to market produce to local programs (i.e. High Rocks camps and cafe) and regional markets. We have a high tunnel in production and are partnering with a local business owner to create a memorial youth social enterprise garden program for the owner’s mother, Ruby Burns, who was also a High Rocks founding board member. The Ruby Grow Gardens will grow youth social enterprise by introducing youth entrepreneurs to production-focus organic produce gardening in Hillsboro, WV. We hope to grow organic produce for local markets, as well as for local consumers, including the High Rocks camps, where we feed 60 people three times a day for a month in the summer.

High Rocks Academy provides opportunities for High Rocks girls to earn and learn as leaders in camp and advisors to the board of directors. The Junior Counselor program, the Youth Advisory Board, and the internship program are all pathways to earn and learn.

The First2 Network is committed to resources students with travel support and educational stipends to resource students’ time: to conduct STEM research/STEM career immersion and to achieve the First2 Network aims. Through High Rocks partnership, First2 Network funds our scholars’ participation as network leaders, researchers, mentors, educators, and more - to enable students to invest their time and focus on leveraging STEM pathway success for themselves and for others.