Novi High, Macy’s donate $10,000 to launch Fordson incubator class

A large group of adults and high school students gather in the Fordson High media center with an oversized check for $5,000 from Macy's to Fordson.

Some Fordson High School students will get an uncommon hands-on experience as entrepreneurs thanks to generous donations from Novi High School and Macy’s Inc.

On Wednesday, representatives from Novi High School and Macy’s at Fairlane Town Center presented Fordson with $10,000 to help the school launch a business incubator class next school year.  Novi started a similar class last year where students created product ideas to pitch to Macy’s. The Macy’s Twelve Oaks store agreed to sell two of the students’ products last winter, so students then finished bringing products to market by finding manufacturers, developing packaging, and more.

Now Fordson High School in Dearborn hopes to offer a similar initiative, partnering with Macy’s at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn.  Malika Harris, manager of the Dearborn Macy’s store presented Fordson with $5,000, matching the donation from Novi High School.  Quest, one of the Novi students’ product lines, was sold with the premise that 10 percent would be used to fund other student entrepreneurs.

Fordson Principal Heyam Alcodray said she originally arranged to meet with Novi officials because she wanted to learn about their robotics and business incubator programs.

“We knew we needed to provide those opportunities for our students as part of our transformation to the academies model,” Alcodray said.  Fordson High School uses the Academies of Fordson to encourage every student to explore a possible career field, with business being one of the options.

Her meeting with Dr. RJ Webber, Novi Schools assistant superintendent of academic services, lead to a partnership between Novi and Fordson.

“It is because of this partnership we have been able to embark on this journey,” Alcodray said. Some Fordson students visited Novi High School this fall when those students were pitching their new product ideas to Macy’s.

Dr. Webber said he was glad to be doing the donation presentation in the beautiful and historic Fordson High School.  The announcement was held in the media center with vaulted ceilings, historic artwork and detailed woodwork.

“This is an absolutely beautiful place and more importantly a beautiful moment. The idea is a simple one that ideas are equal but opportunities are not,” Webber said.  He viewed the incubator class as a way to provide students with opportunities they would not be able to get elsewhere.

The kickoff event was attended by both Novi and Dearborn officials including board of education members, administrators, students, Chamber of Commerce representatives, and officials from the education foundations.

Nicole Carter, Novi High School principal, said she was glad to see the incubator program spreading, and she attributed the class’ success in its first year to teachers.

“Our teachers have been willing to take calculated risks and build the plane as it was flying,” Carter said. 

The lessons for students extend far beyond developing a business, she added.

“Students get a firsthand glimpse of the importance of being patient, flexible and understanding,” Carter said.

Harris, from Macy’s Fairlane, noted that some of her employees have children or family members attending Fordson.

“I am very excited because Fairlane has been part of the Dearborn community for over 40 years,” Harris said.

Dr. Webber said the Novi students made $36,000 their first year, including in-kind donations from Macy’s.  He added that he had faith Fordson’s incubator program would succeed.

“We believe you are going to absolutely eclipse anything we did,” Webber said.