Real businesses. Real Students

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

“Taking charge of what we want to do with our lives.”

Julia Danalevich and Gerbert Funes are two of the leaders of the Dons Net Cafe (DNC), a business incubator embedded in Santa Barbara High School. They talked with Mark about the history of the program that is now over 20 years old. They are one of seven high schools in the nation that have a program where students can build and launch real businesses. There’s a national program called the Virtual Enterprise Classroom which they also participate in, however they are virtual, meaning no real money or risk, the DNC has real clients and a real accounting department. They have won numerous awards from this organization and are on their way there now to compete with one of the newest companies, Volt Gaming, a membership organization that provides Game Tournaments and lunchtime play using the Computers in the Cafe. Mark is a mentor for the leadership of this program.
Take a step into my future” – Gerbert
Topics included;
  • Julia, the COO of the DNC expalins how the operation works
  • Finding Common Ground – one of the companies – full list here
  • The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program – and being recognized by the Director of the IRS in Washington – Noozhawk article here. It is funded by the United Way, to provide free tax returns to people that can’t afford it. They have been awarded the #1 VITA site in the nation by the LA Times.
  • 14 Businesses that are currently operating out of the DNC
  • How taking part in real businesses has created great experiences for them both
  • How they have learned to provide general services, such as HR, IT, Accounting, Marketing to the various businesses in the DNC
  • How these high-achieving students manage to balance their other school with the passion they have for business and social responsibility
  • They participate in the New Venture Competiton at Santa Barbara City College with other local high school.
  • What they’d tell other students about getting involved in such a program
Mark mentioned that these students are learning valuable lessons that they’ll be able to use immediately as they decide what they want to do with their lives. We’d encourage you to get involved with your local High School’s Virtual Enterprise or Regional Occupational Program (ROP) and give back some of your time.