A school-based enterprise (SBE) is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods/services to meet the needs of the market. SBEs are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality or management.

SBEs provide realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. SBEs can sell to consumers through a permanent location, a mobile kiosk or through Internet marketing. Products may include spirit wear, food and beverage items, school supplies, signs and banners and more, while other SBEs provide services such as creative design, advertising sales and more.

School-based enterprises are effective educational tools in helping to prepare students for the transition from school to work or college. For many students, they provide the first work experience; for others, they provide an opportunity to build management, supervision and leadership skills. While some in the education community have only recently discovered the value of school-based enterprises, educators and DECA advisors have used them as a powerful teaching tool for more than four decades.

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DECA offers SBE certification on two levels: chapter level through a written project and individual level through a comprehensive exam. The certification program reinforces the integration of National Curriculum Standards and 21st century employability skills into the SBE learning lab environment. Standards covered in both the written project and exam include retail, marketing and entrepreneurship concepts, and a range of business operations standards. Earning a chapter or individual certification garners international recognition, provides credibility, validates curriculum efficacy and strengthens the relevancy of the SBE as a valuable teaching tool. Participating in SBE certification is an effective way of preparing students for DECA competitive events and future higher learning and careers.

Chapter Certification

The program provides SBEs with standards for model school store operation and provides recognition for school-based enterprises at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The number and type of activities a school-based enterprise completes for each of the standards will determine the level of certification awarded.
Certification Documentation due by January 12, 2023





Individual Certification

Through this program, members may pursue individual certification in SBE operations through the successful completion of an online exam that measures knowledge and understanding of business operations concepts.



SBE Exam Study Guide


The School-based Enterprise Academy is held annually during DECA’s International Career Development Conference and is available exclusively to Gold Certified and Gold Re-certified SBEs. Gold Certified SBEs are eligible to bring up to three students to the academy with the approval of their chartered association advisor. The academy is designed to combine substantive educational experiences and competition with networking and vendor interaction. Participants will experience dynamic professional development sessions specific to the entrepreneurship field, have the opportunity to share ideas and learn from other SBEs, and compete in an SBE-specific competition focused on best practices.


Gold Certified and Gold Re-certified SBEs attending the SBE Academy at DECA’s International Career Development Conference will participate in a competition consisting of an oral presentation judged by business professionals. The topic of competition rotates each year and is based on one of the 10 business standards covered in the written SBE Chapter Certification project.

DECA members participating in the SBE competition must designate themselves as one of two SBE categories: Retail Operations or Food Operations. (SBEs that are service businesses should select Retail Operations.) The competition rules, presentation guidelines, and performance indicators are identical for the two competition tracks. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards will be presented to the winners of both SBE – Retail Operations Event and SBE – Food Operations Event.



Strengthen the connection between classroom learning and hands-on experience in your school-based enterprise by utilizing the many instructional resources provided by DECA specifically for SBEs. Webinars, lesson plans, instructional units and product and vendor lists are among the many tools available to DECA SBE advisors.


Teach your students about the 5 Ps of Marketing (people, product, price, place, and promotion) and how they relate to the implementation of an automated retail kiosk for your SBE. DECA partner, Spirit Factory, utilizes its automated retail kiosk, the Spirit Box, as an example in these interactive lessons. Each module includes instructional content, interactive classroom activities, assessments, and corresponding PowerPoint Presentations.

ModuleInstructional UnitPresentation



DECA Inc. offers training, resources, information sharing and network opportunities through professional development to enhance teaching, improve performance and fulfill certification requirements for continual professional development. Participants receive certificates of achievement, as the activities are suited to integrate into classroom instruction. For a look at all Professional Learning Series opportunities, click here.


This comprehensive guide covers all facets of starting and managing a school-based enterprise. Whether you are already operating an SBE, or are considering implementing one in your school, this guide covers all the key topics vital to the success of an SBE such as writing the business plan, holding job interviews, establishing operating policies and procedures, etc. Utilizing this guide will help build a solid framework for opening an SBE learning lab, or will help existing SBEs refine their procedures to ensure continued success of the SBE not only as a business but also a relevant extension of classroom instruction. Download the guide.


The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 intends to improve the nutritional quality of foods sold in schools. As of July 1, 2014, all food items sold within schools during the school day (12:00 AM to 30 minutes after school) must now adhere to the USDA nutrition guidelines that place a limit on the number of calories, fat, sodium, and other nutritional categories per serving. Click here for a chart of current USDA nutrition standards for schools, and additional information can be found here.

  • Click here or here for more information on acceptable snacks, entrees, and beverages that meet the USDA nutrition guidelines.
  • Click here for more information on food buying for child nutrition programs.
  • Click here for the Smart Snack Calculator tool which helps determine whether a food item meets the USDS nutrition guidelines.
  • Click here to review more detailed information on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.


Reinforce your student’s understanding of the business standards and concepts covered in the chapter certification project by incorporating these 10 instructional units into your classroom. Each unit includes an instructional pamphlet and corresponding PowerPoint presentation on each of 10 business topics including: financial analysis, operations, marketing-information management, market planning, product/service management, pricing, distribution/channel management, promotion, selling, and human resources management. Following the classroom activities in each of the units will help your SBE complete each of the required sections of the chapter certification project manual.

ModuleInstructional UnitPresentation
Financial Analysispdfppt
Marketing-Information Managementpdfppt
Market Planningpdfppt
Product/Service Managementpdfppt
Distribution/Channel Managementpdfppt
Human Resources Managementpdfppt


Students learn the significant lessons and business functions involved in running a successful school-based enterprise, as well as the 21st century skills required in any job. Developed in conjunction with DECA, the School Store Operations textbook explores the planning, development, and operation functions needed for a successful school store. Career preparation is highlighted throughout the text, with attention given to the Marketing, Sales, and Service Career Cluster foundations. Click here for more information.


Generous support for the School-based Enterprise Program is provided by Intuit and Otis Spunkmeyer Inc.

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