4 reasons entrepreneurship is crucial to a middle school education

Posted by | September 17, 2013

CEO of Campus Apartments and this year’s 2013 NFTE Philadelphia Visionary Gala honoree, David Adelman started early. At age 13, he invested his Bar Mitzvah money in a property in Philadelphia, and by age 25, he took over Campus Apartments, functioning as CEO ever since. And he’s not alone. In fact, many entrepreneurs working today equate their success to an early pioneering spirit.

That’s one reason why NFTE Philadelphia has recently tripled its reach in middle schools to teach the basic vocabulary of entrepreneurship to students at younger ages. In addition to exposing young minds to business fundamentals, NFTE will pilot the national Start Up Math program in Philadelphia next school year to sharpen math skills and open the door to more opportunities for more students. The ultimate goal is to help young entrepreneurs recognize applications for their education from an earlier age and make the most of their middle- and high-school classes.

In doing so, the program instills values that all entrepreneurs need at their fingertips. Here are four traits that we teach our middle school students that every entrepreneur needs from the get-go:

  1. Confidence. Willing a business plan into a profitable enterprise takes more than hard work. If entrepreneurs don’t believe in their idea, no one else will either. By introducing NFTE students to successful entrepreneurs and business people, and supporting our students as they pursue their interests, we’re able to instill confidence that will be invaluable as their fledgling businesses take flight. Instilling confidence also better prepares middle school students for high school and the physical, emotional, and environmental shifts facing them in adolescence. Through confidence, students will be able to see changes as opportunities and recognize academic success as a means to achieve their goals.
  2. Passion. Paired with confidence, passion is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur must possess. A leader’s passion can convince top employees to join a company. It’s what convinces customers to try a product or service. It’s what inspires entrepreneurs every day to realize their vision. Through dynamic and interactive lesson plans, we engage students, cultivate their interests, and open potential academic or career paths they might not know exist. Most middle schoolers barely know what they’re doing for the rest of the day, let alone for the rest of their lives, but by exposing them to a variety of topics and sparking interest, we can help students recognize a new passion for math, English, or science that can help get them where they want to go.
  3. Resourcefulness. Entrepreneurs must relentlessly improve their products, services, and businesses despite budget constraints, time crunches, and small teams. In those situations, resourcefulness determines success, so we aim to provide as many resources as possible. Our base of teachers has decades of experience in business, offering students a go-to source for any questions or challenges they encounter in crafting business plans. The curriculum too is intended as an ongoing resource for students on everything from communication and negotiating to corporate responsibility. By putting numerous options on the table, students learn to engage and utilize the tools at their disposal.
  4. Social skills. From networking to team building to nurturing relationships with customers or capital providers, entrepreneurs need social skills to help accelerate the development of their company. Nearly every classroom, job, and project our students encounter will involve teamwork or collaboration in some form. By emphasizing teamwork in our middle school classes, we not only prepare the students for life as entrepreneurs, but for school and life in general.

NFTE’s middle school program teaches students the crucial skills of any successful entrepreneur right out of the gate. By developing these traits early, students enter high school with a working knowledge of how businesses function, placing them a step ahead of their peers. By positioning students on an early path to success, we aim to increase graduation rates and produce entrepreneurs ready to seize every opportunity.


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