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August 29, 2008

"Drink" to a Better Future

You recycle, you take shorter showers, you avoid driving when you can, maybe you've even planted a tree. But have you ever made the world a better place by taking a drink?

Meet the students at MET High School in Providence, RI. In 2005, after a school science project led to the creation of a good-tasting natural soda (a combo of Vitamin C, artesian water and cane sugar), one girl saw the potential behind such a wonderful invention. Sixteen years old at the time, Yesenia Mercado had been taking a business seminar through her school and decided to write up a business plan for these students and their fizzy drinks.

With her friend, DJ Hall, Mercado was able to raise $10,000 from private financiers to open what they called the Big Picture Soda Company and in December 2006 the company produced its first soda for resale. Now with retailers across Providence, Mercado and Hall have their own small enterprise brewing. They recruited eight other students who meet bi-weekly, fulfilling their internship requirements as they strive to keep the business thriving and think of new ways to expand the organization.

The best part about Big Picture Soda is that it looks at, well, the big picture! All proceeds go directly to college scholarships for underprivileged students at MET. Imagine, though, if their company expanded, and the good it could do even at your school!

Mercado and Hall are yet two more examples of the good teens can do for their communities if they use their resources to explore possibilities and test their limitations, and achieve their dreams. Check out BigPictureSoda.org and read more about how Mercado and Hall did it. Maybe it will inspire you and give you ideas on how to create your own helpful start-up.

Don't hesitate to contact the students working at the company either. They give their contact information for a reason. Ask questions, get advice. Maybe you too can get stores in your neighborhood to sell Big Picture Soda. Or better yet -- maybe you can come up with your own nonprofit enterprise.

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