Contributor Business Fair

Entrepreneur Addison Ryckbost, an Oklahoma Christian Academy second grader, sells her handmade products during the Contributor Business Fair last spring.

Media types and big businesses are constantly competing for the dollars of consumers. It doesn’t matter the age, sex or nationality, everyone is game for some type of commitment of time or money. 

“Our culture is forming our children within the narrative of consumption,” said OCA Academic Dean/Interim President Sadie Knowles. “Some market research estimates that businesses spend close to $20 billion dollars this year marketing to Generation Z.” 

Fortunately, Oklahoma Christian Academy is a school that is committed to transforming consumers into contributors,and the second semester they are calling the program CityLab.

Contributors make a difference in this world.

In 2015 world leaders agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030. These goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality, and address the urgency of climate change. Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us — governments, businesses, civil society, and the general public — to work together to build a better future for everyone.



For the students at Oklahoma Christian Academy, this need has been applied to the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals, all of which require extra money and major new commitments. 

In order to succeed, the students at Oklahoma Christian Academy have adopted a theme of Cultivating Contributors. 

“OCA is challenging students to find ways to contribute in positive ways to their families, to the school culture, and to the global community,” Knowles said.

Businesses, civil society, and the general public work together to build a better future for everyone.

The United Nations’ 17 Global Goals ( was used to introduce the students to problems and they were asked to research, discover a problem, and then develop a solution. The students used a Contributor Guide developed by former OCA President Brandon Tatum and Director of Student Culture Clete Ross. 

“Dr. Brandon Tatum, the administration team, and myself have been working on ideas to help our students incorporate their faith, gifts, talents and passions, with what they are learning in the classroom and a felt need in the world,” Ross said.   

A desire at Oklahoma Christian Academy is to cultivate contributors.

“As a part of that vision we launched our Contributor Challenge Project last year. This project gives students class time during their Bible class each week to work on a project related to one of the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals.” 

Ross said the initiative has produced several amazing projects and ideas, including the 7th grade boys raising funds to send a young boy to school at the Hope Christian Academy in Ghana, Africa, as well as the launch of DUO (Do Unto Others) — their philanthropy week.  

“Through their research students were introduced to local and national organizations making a difference in fighting challenges associated with poverty, hunger, human trafficking, and lack of access to education,” Knowles said. “Students identified non-profits and reached out to companies around the country to form partnerships or launch new ideas to address relevant social and economic issues.”

Two student groups were recognized for outstanding contributions. The Four Project designed and sold T-shirts to pay educational costs for a young man in Ghana. 

Another group of students started a philanthropy week for OCA called DUO (Do Unto Others) Week. The DUO group set a goal to raise $15,000 for Pepper’s Ranch and far exceeded their goal, raising more than $50,000. This year students raised $20,000 for Special Care Inc. in Oklahoma City.



In April 2019 on the elementary level, the Contributor Business Fair was organized.

Students in grades 2-5 applied to be an entrepreneur at this event and participants had to  develop a product they could make on their own with minimal assistance from an adult. They would then produce at least 30 items and set up a booth to sell their products at the outdoor business fair, Knowles said.

These elementary students also identified one of the Global Goals of personal interest, and after covering their production costs, students donated all proceeds to a non-profit organization associated with their selected global goal. 

OCA student Luke Johnson was featured by news outlets in Tybee Island, Ga., for his contributions to the Marine Science Center in support of efforts to protect the sea turtle population.



“Finally, we are in the second semester of a pilot program called CityLab,” Knowles said. “In this unique program, juniors and seniors ‘do school’ in the heart of downtown Edmond.”

Their day is made up of three components:

1. Online concurrent coursework;

2. Shadowing or internship opportunities; or 

3. A proposed project in conjunction with the City of Edmond.

“Through their time outside the classroom, exploring Edmond, and interacting with citizens, students have identified unique ways to contribute to their city,” Knowles said. 

They are working with Andrew Conyers, who manages office support functions for City Manager Larry Stevens. Conyers helps develop and implements short- and long-term projects.

CityLab is a domestic “study abroad” program seeking to give self-directed high school students time, space and freedom to engage with their local community in unique ways while staying on track with a rigorous course of study and extracurricular activities.

“OCA’s emphasis on Cultivating Contributors has invigorated students and faculty alike. Students are receiving the message they can make a difference with their God-given gifts now, and faculty are inspired by the compassion and creativity of their students.

OCA hopes to open this program to other students in the Edmond area in fall 2020. 

Miller is an education and general assignment reporter for The Edmond Sun. Send an email to Patty at or call 405-341-2121.


Miller is an education and general assignment reporter for The Edmond Sun. Send an email to Patty at

Recommended for you