By Abby Spegman

The Bulletin

Redmond High School will soon offer students the chance to design, make, market and sell products in a new entrepreneurship program, thanks to a $231,700 state grant officials announced this week.

Redmond is one of 25 districts and the only one in Central Oregon among this year’s winners for career and technical education grants totaling $9 million. This was the third round of funding for the grant program that began in 2011. In 2014, Redmond High received $475,000 for its manufacturing program.

With this latest grant, the school plans to bridge the gap between its existing business and manufacturing programs. The money will go to professional development for teachers and a classroom remodel to physically connect the two programs.

“There’s the whole maker movement, which has the machines in place for people to build products. We want the thinker space where they can have the ideas for the products,” said Ryan Beard, Redmond High’s career and technical program administrator.

The grant will also help pay for visits to area businesses to show students what the end result might look like.

Career and technical programs are highly desired offerings for schools, giving students real-world experience and jobs skills. Along with manufacturing, Redmond High offers courses in agriculture sciences, automotive technology, engineering, welding and construction.

But these can be costly programs to run. The state grants, administered by the state Department of Education and Bureau of Labor and Industries, are designed as seed money to help engage local businesses as partners and leverage more funding.

Redmond High started offering an entrepreneur course this year. Beard said students are taught to think about the customer and design products for their needs. In a recent class, students designing wallets interviewed one another to find out what they like in a wallet, how they use the product and what elements would be most useful.

“In the end, a lot of people just put a product out because they think it’s great, and they don’t think about how people will actually use it,” Beard said. “What do people need, and what do people need it to feel like and look like?”

Students will be encouraged to follow an idea from development and manufacturing to sales and distribution. They could then compete at a pitch night, presenting their ideas to investors for the chance to take their products to market.

The first such event will be held May 7 in partnership with the Redmond Education Foundation.

— Reporter: 541-617-7837,

aspegman@bendbulletin.com

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