In 1978, a group of Northwest Pennsylvania business leaders met because they were having trouble finding and retaining good employees. Young people entering the workforce had a poor understanding of business and what it takes to help businesses succeed.
In response, they created Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) to teach high school students the inner workings of business and the American free enterprise system. In 1979, about 100 Northwestern Pennsylvania students and 50 business executives gathered at Clarion State College for the first PFEW program, and later that year, the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education (FFEE) was established as the governing body of PFEW. In 1980, FFEE was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) educational foundation enabling it to accept tax-deductible contributions.
PFEW has grown dramatically and now offers multiple week-long sessions in July and August on the campuses of Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, both in Williamsport, PA. Typically, over 2,000 students and 250 business executives from across the Commonwealth participate each year. To date, over 47,000 young Pennsylvanians have benefited from this unique concept in economic education.
In 2018, FFEE acquired the exclusive Pennsylvania rights to operate the Stock Market Game™. SMG is an interactive, in-class online simulation of the global capital markets for students in grades 4-12 that teaches students about investing, increases financial literacy, and helps students establish sound financial futures.
In 2020, in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FFEE created the Speaker Series, an online library of career exploration and workforce preparedness resources for students in middle and high school. The purpose of the Speaker Series is to open students' eyes to the many career opportunities available in PA and help them develop mentor relationships that will catapult them to successful careers.
Combined, the Foundation's family of programs provides Pennsylvania youth with the knowledge, tools, and skills today's employers expect and tomorrow's leaders demand.