Developing entrepreneurs for a brighter future

Woodridge Local School District, in partnership with the City of Cuyahoga Falls, Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Six District Educational Compact, has launched an innovative entrepreneurship program. EntrepreNEW will engage our schools, local business community and local government so that we can all work together to mentor and develop our students in the spirit of economic development and community engagement.

EntrepreNEW is an immersive program for students who are interested in learning about creating their own business. As part of the program, students will work with the city of Cuyahoga Falls and entrepreneurs throughout Northeast Ohio to create, design, plan and prepare to launch a business. The program will focus on mentorship, trade-based entrepreneurship, resiliency, adaptability and changing workforce needs.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is investing $250,000 into the program over the next three years with the Morgan Scout Fund grant. The grant will fund EntrepreNEW and the creation of a website where content will be open and free for other educators to emulate the program that Woodridge is creating. Also, the grant will fund the development of stand-alone lessons to embed entrepreneurship into trade-based education programs.

EntrepreNEW programming will be located within the city of Cuyahoga Falls so that students can work side by side with entrepreneurs daily. As part of the Six District Educational Compact, the EntrepreNEW program will be open to students in Woodridge Local Schools as well as students from Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Kent, Stow-Munroe Falls and Tallmadge.

Get involved with

EntrepreNEW is designed to be fully experience-based. To do this, students will learn from and work side by side with entrepreneurs. EntrepreNEW will offer two options for business and community partnerships. These partnerships will be the foundation of the program, which offers a project-based and immersive experience to student participants.

Direct Mentors – Work directly with students during the program. Mentors will meet with their students in person each month and communicate via technology on an as-needed basis. Every attempt will be made to align students with a mentor in their field of interest for business creation. Time commitment includes one class visit per month, communicating with students via email and other virtual interactions, and collaborating on other work with students when necessary.

Entrepreneurial Guest Speaker Series – Host EntrepreNEW students at your workplace or visit the class to share your experience in entrepreneurship. Time commitment includes one 3-6-hour session per year in your workplace or by visiting the class. Guests will have the opportunity to have their visit filmed to become part of the online curriculum’s resources.

If you or your business is interested in working with EntrepreNEW, contact Emily Knight, Entrepreneurship Educator for Woodridge Local Schools, at eknight@woodridge.k12.oh.us for more information. Knight is responsible for creating and facilitating the program and the grant development.

Why is the future in education

Recent surveys and research regarding the American workforce and how schools can best prepare their students for the future led to the program’s development. The research indicates that rethinking education to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and provide real-world learning experiences will bring together students, parents, educators, employers and other stakeholders to ensure that all students have the skills needed for life and learning after high school and beyond. A World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report lists those needed skills as complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity while a recent national survey commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation also found that employers ranked communication, problem-solving, time management and self-management skills higher than subject-matter knowledge.

Research also indicates that more than half of adults, including parents, believe high school graduates are not “career-ready,” and this program will help address that issue to make sure our education system is relevant to the demands of the labor market, which is expected to be more entrepreneurial than traditional in the future.

This entrepreneurship program aligns with the Woodridge Local School District’s strategic priorities to expand the pathway options for high school graduates. Additionally, the program is one of the outcomes of the Six District Educational Compact’s Plan for the Future.

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