Challenges when starting a youth entrepreneurship education program in your community

One of the common barriers encountered in developing a community based entrepreneurship program is difficulty in penetrating the public school system and developing a community model.

Thinking of starting an entrepreneurship program in your community? The Michigan 4-H Youth Development page for entrepreneurship is a great way to explore the resources Michigan State University Extension has to offer when implementing a youth entrepreneurship education program. Some of these include Be the “E” National 4-H curriculum, and Going Solo Virtual  Entrepreneurship curriculum. This site also provides direct links to other great youth entrepreneurship education resources and partner programs like Generation E. The MSU Extension expert search can also help locate a 4-H Youth Development staff member in your area who is willing, and able to assist you in your pursuit of entrepreneurship education program development.

Before you begin, here are a few things you should consider. Based on a comprehensive scan of youth entrepreneurship theory, practice and policy conducted by the Integral Assets Consulting, the Kellogg Foundation identified several challenges that communities can face that are currently hindering the ability of youth entrepreneurship programming to have an impact. They suggest several challenges an emerging community based youth entrepreneurship program may face including:

  • difficulty in penetrating the public schools as a delivery environment
  • a lack of a strategic system-wide model in the community
  • a limited amount of teachers who are competent to teach entrepreneurship
  • a disconnect between schools and communities

Creating partnerships which include multiple organizations and local schools are a great way to start. The Aspen Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group suggests that at the local level entrepreneurship training should be introduced in all schools with special emphasis on those with large populations of youth from low-income communities. The institute advocates the development of partnerships between schools, businesses and other community organizations. The partnerships will provide the means for business leaders to serve as mentors, coaches and provide support to local programs. Forming a partnership with schools can be achieved by illustrating the connections between entrepreneurship education outcomes and Common Core State Standards.  Entrepreneurship education can be implemented in all types of organizations. The National Standards of Practice for Entrepreneurship Education produced by the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education can be a great tool to illustrate how the concepts of entrepreneurship fit into many organization’s mission, values and direction.

MSU Extension leadership offers workshops and resources to assist groups and communities in developing an action plan. Some organizations like the Generation E Institute utilize a community wide approach and can assist in finding pockets of entrepreneurship programming and interested community partners.

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