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Getting an Early Start

Outreach into Hispanic and underserved communities in middle and high schools is one way to get students thinking in a business-minded way at an early age.

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) developed its own entrepreneurial curriculum for high school students, and the curriculum has been translated into Spanish as well.

“Our mission is to find every young person a pathway to prosperity,” says Daniel Rabuzzi, national program director for NFTE, adding that the student participants are “smart, ambitious kids, but they are alienated from traditional business models. When students have to design a business pitch, they see a reason for math and reading.”

FIU is one of the universities NFTE works with in Florida.

“Students get credit for classes taken in high school and also at Miami Dade [College],” Rabuzzi says. “These credits are transferable to FIU. Now we have a seamless track for students to Florida International.” Rabuzzi adds that NFTE is working to get a similar program off the ground in Chicago with its city colleges. “We are cobbling together networks to take people from point A to point B,” he says.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation is a key NFTE supporter. Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of the foundation, says Goldman Sachs got involved when it saw the impact that education and training programs can have on future generations of leaders.

“We looked at the research behind entrepreneurial education and found that this is a positive promoter for success, making students hungry to succeed and for success throughout their lives,” says Bell-Rose. “This partnership seemed like an appropriate and simple option for us.”

Implementing methodology competitions and ensuring that students are ambitious in environments such as entrepreneurial expositions, where students present business plans in competition, are useful learning tools, Bell-Rose says.

NFTE’s Rabuzzi says the purpose of entrepreneurial education is not necessarily to start a fledgling business.

“You’re not a failure if you are not an entrepreneur. The test is, are you entrepreneurial? For students from underserved communities in our programs, they know how to take and measure risks,” Rabuzzi says. “They take risks every day by walking to school. They learn to translate that to business. We all have to be more entrepreneurial and take risks because of global competition.”

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