New Curriculum Focuses on High-School Entrepreneurs

High school teachers now have free online access to entrepreneurship course materials, under a new program launched by the National Federation of Independent Business' Young Entrepreneur Foundation.

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The new curriculum module, called "Entrepreneur in the Classroom," includes a series of teachers' notes, activities, overhead slides, and quizzes, all in PDF format, available for download.

"We determined there was a need for this type of curriculum after speaking with many teachers and NFIB members around the country," said Hank Kopcial, executive director of the Young Entrepreneur Foundation, part of the Washington-based advocacy group representing 600,000 small businesses.

The first module of the curriculum focuses on the foundations of business theory, the second explores developing business ideas, and the third gets into the nuts and bolts of running a business, with emphasis on financing, and governmental resources available to entrepreneurs.

"This curriculum is designed to complement pre-existing lesson plans and takes about two and a half weeks to get through," said Julie Carney, the program's manager. While the program can easily fit with business and marketing classes, it is designed to work with any class interested in entrepreneurship.

"In other courses like music or art, we feel this course could help young people decide if they want to take their passion and turn it into their own business," Kopcial said.

The curriculum has been reviewed by the National Education Association, who has agreed to make information about it available to its 2.8 million members.

According to a recent Young Entrepreneur Foundation survey, 90 percent of teachers and guidance counselors say their students are interested in becoming entrepreneurs; however 75 percent of them say their students have no idea where to turn.

"The survey shows that a lot of high school students are interested in creating their own business, and we wanted to give them a jumpstart," said Rhonda Bentz, vice president of Visa USA, which co-sponsored the survey.

The survey also highlighted other concerns for teachers and guidance counselors. Fifty-two percent of respondents believe the main reason students want to start their own businesses is because working for an employer has become less reliable.

Sixty-four percent of surveyed teachers and guidance counselors said having high school classes in entrepreneurship would give students basic knowledge about what it takes to run a successful business.

The Young Entrepreneur Foundation is also implementing T3, a program designed to pair teachers with local entrepreneurs interested in working with the "Entrepreneur in the Classroom" series.

"By recruiting entrepreneurs to serve as mentors, teachers using the curriculum will have a real business person as a resource," Kopcial said.

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