Building Capacity

We’re in the New York Times!I am doubly delighted about this recent New York Times article about the importance of teaching entrepreneurship to at-risk youth.  First, because it salutes the work of Suzanne McKechnie Klahr of BUILD, a Bay Area based youth entrepreneurship program that now operates in Boston and DC as well (and is about to go live in NYC as well).  Suzanne is a long-time colleague of mine who I met during my days running a youth entrepreneurship program at The Enterprise Center, and it makes me very happy to see her program succeed and get the accolades it so richly deserves. 

Second, because Suzanne's contention, and the premise of the article, is that entrepreneurship is an awesome way to get kids on the college track.  To be sure, stories abound of young people who hit it really big in entrepreneurship and bypass college altogether (or, famously drop out).  And, there are even more stories of young people who don't hit it really big, but are able to sustain themselves and create jobs by birthing a new venture starting in their teen years.  These success stories are legion, and they ought to be celebrated.

But for the vast majority of the kinds of teens served by BUILD and by The Enterprise Center, the path to long-term success is marked out with college in mind.  In our increasingly knowledge based economy, going through the college experience - the credentialing, the learning, the learning how to learn, and the networking with other smarties - is paramount.  It has been many years since this was my day job, but I still firmly believe that teaching entrepreneurship is hugely important.  Economic literacy, financial savvy, and the skills gained in figuring out how to birth a new venture that makes money are essential life skills, useful in any endeavor young folks set their minds to.  And, they are extremely good motivators for young folks to understand the importance of college and to get there. 

Kudos to Suzanne, to BUILD, to The Enterprise Center, and to countless young entrepreneurs who are gaining skills every day and taking one more step towards a long and successful career in our modern economy.
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