These students have a (business) plan
At a Boston high school, entrepreneurship education boosts teens' business know-how.
(Page 2 of 2)
Judges graded everything from the viability of the ideas to students' speaking skills.Skip to next paragraph
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Friends at other schools don't have this opportunity, students say. "Yesterday, when I went shopping to get an outfit for this, the lady was impressed that high school students were doing business things, because you usually learn about things like this in college," Farah says.
Blue Cross freed up some employees two mornings a week to mentor. "I've really come to appreciate [the students'] drive and their work ethic," says Tuoyo Louis, the lead mentor at Blue Cross and a Fenway trustee. "I didn't get some of this stuff until I was in business school, so to see it in high school..., it's amazing."
"It's really essential for every student to know the rules of the game of life," Ms. Carrier says.
Sometimes those rules feel uncomfortable. Students complain when first asked to don office-appropriate outfits, for one thing. But Melissa Gonzalez says her main challenge was dealing with "harsh, rude, ignorant people" when contacting car dealers and auto shops while working on an autocustomization plan. She says she enjoyed the task despite the hurdles.
His nonprofit in New York has worked with nearly 200,000 students nationwide, primarily low-income and minority, over the past 20 years. Mr. Mariotti created a curriculum model, similar to Fenway's, so that entrepreneurial education would not be limited to children whose parents own a business.
The reach of such education has grown tenfold since he started, Mariotti estimates. But he and others say there's still a long way to go to make it more widely available.
Early research on NFTE programs found links to increases in students' independent reading, college aspirations, and leadership behavior. The boost to academic and life skills is primarily found among students at a socioeconomic or cultural disadvantage, says Andrew Hahn, a professor and founder of the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
In their senior year, Fenway students have to pitch themselves to a workplace for an internship.
Sometimes students are scared heading into the internship, Carrier says, but when they come back after six weeks in a professional environment, "they blossom into these adult versions of themselves, and they're wise.... And they're able to link everything Fenway's given them ... to what's real."