I had the privilege of recently serving as a judge for a local business plan competition sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Students from a variety of DC-area high schools presented business plans that were assessed and critiqued by teams of local entrepreneurs. The students were impressive with their poise and maturity, but also because they had strong business ideas. If you want to be inspired, get involved with groups like NFTE.
These youth entrepreneurship programs should become a regular part of the economic development tool kit. Young people need to be engaged in our communities and in discussions about economic development priorities—youth entrepreneurship programs are a great way to engage them in these discussions.
Interest in youth entrepreneurship is booming across the US and overseas. If you’re interested, here are some great sources for learning more:
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship: A national leader in the field.
North Carolina REAL: A national leader with a strong focus on rural communities.
The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education: The leading trade association for entrepreneurship educators.
There are lots of steps that Federal, state, and local policy makers can take to help seed and support these efforts. Last year, we helped produce a Policymaker’s Action Guide on behalf of the Aspen Institute’s Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group. It contains lots of interesting ideas for advancing the field. It can be accessed here: http://www.entreworks.net/Download/ActionGuideDraft.pdf