Youth entrepreneurship isn't just about curbside lemonade stands or girl scout cookie sales- thousands of young people across the U.S. are unlocking their entrepreneurial potential with the help of several organizations whose sole purpose is to educate and motivate the next generation of American entrepreneurs.
Whether you are curious to know what it takes to turn your entrepreneurial dream into a reality, or need hands-on assistance and training in the fundamentals of leadership, business ownership and financial literacy- these organizations offer teens and young people a chance to learn about entrepreneurship from the experts.
Here are three such organizations that help students and young people from K-12 and disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for a future as an entrepreneur or business leader.
1. Hugh 'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY*)
Aimed at: High-Potential High School Students.
HOBY is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to helping high-potential high school students participate in leadership training, service-learning and motivation building experiences that prepare them for the potential of business ownership.
HOBY programs are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving local and international high school students.
What they Teach: Eligible students attend a series of phase-based programs* over a 12 month period, that include hands-on training, small business group discussions, team building, community service, and Q&A sessions with community business leaders. HOBY also hosts a week-long intensive educational program in Washington DC known as the World Leadership Congress which brings together students with demonstrated leadership potential to interact with accomplished professionals and influential leaders.
How they Teach: Students are selected and registered to become'HOBY Ambassador' by their own high school counselors (the nominal registration fee is usually covered by the school itself). Seminars are executed by a network of volunteers at a national and local affiliate level*.
Results: More than 375,000 students have passed through HOB's programs and while quantifiable data on the success rate of its alumni is not available, the opportunities to engage in leadership roles enable participants to better understand leadership and begin to identify their own particular leadership strengths and business acumen.
2. Junior Achievement (JA*)
Aimed at: K-12 Students.
Junior Achievement is a volunteer-based global organization, dedicated to educating grade students from K-12 about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Its goal is to equip students so that they have a clear vision of what their potential is, and what it takes from a practical standpoint, to get there.
What they Teach: Starting in kindergarten and progressing through elementary, middle and high school, J's curriculum* focuses on the progressive introduction of the basics of business and economics, how to use this knowledge to make decisions about preparing for the future, and the introduction of hands-on, real-life scenarios that foster essential business and life management skills. The courses often correlate and compliment state school system curriculums*.
How they Teach: J's curriculum is delivered by volunteers for free in the studen's own school during school hours, after school or via summer programs. If your school does not offer JA programs, you can encourage it to sign up to participate here*.
Results: JA published a report in April 2010 that ranks its perception among students compared to a comparable non-JA educated group. In its results, JA found that 76 percent of its students reported confidence in starting their own business. Read more here* (PDF).
3. Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE*)
Aimed at: Young people in low-income communities.
Every nine seconds someone in the U.S. drops out of high school. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (www.nfte.com) is trying to change that statistic. NFT's mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low-income communities and was designed to seize upon channeling street smarts into academic and business smarts.
What they Teach: NFTE's programs in 21 states teach entrepreneurship using its award-winning, hands-on core curriculum*, How to Start and Operate a Small Business. There are versions for middle school, high school, and young adult students, with corresponding reading levels and complexity. Students learn business concepts, practice skills including negotiation and pricing, and work on completion of business plans for their own individual businesses.
How they Teach: The NFTE curriculum is offered in a semester-long or year-long entrepreneurship course, integrated into an existing course, or used for an after-school program or intensive camp. The programs are offered in a variety of settings, including public schools, after-school programs at community-based organizations, and intensive summer business camps.
NFTE also hosts business plan competitions and winning students get the chance to apply for a grant towards their business or college expenses.
Results: Since 1987, NFTE has reached over 330,000 young people from low-income communities and has used independent research* to evaluate its program success, claiming that:
- 70% of former students were in post-secondary education
- 43% had part-time jobs
- 33% were still running a business
- Young Entrepreneurs - Advice for Starting a Business as a Minor
- Teen Business Link - Ideas, resources, and advice for teen entrepreneurs from the U.S Small Business Administration
- U.S. Small Business Administration FAQs for Teen Entrepreneurs
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.