By Tim Moore

While the landscape in entrepreneurship education is changing for adults, are youth being given the same opportunities? During CO.STARTERS’ Community Call in July, we had the chance to hear from several community leaders who are developing programs to encourage and empower entrepreneurship among youth in their communities.

At the Auckland University of Technology—the New Zealand’s fastest growing university—they have been running CO.STARTERS for over a year. Their cohorts have typically consisted of a mix of students and others from the business community. Inspired by what they have experienced in the program, some of the students are now taking the youth-focused version to high schools.

At Cookeville, Tennessee’s Biz Foundry, one of the state’s several regional entrepreneur centers, they have been experimenting with CO.STARTERS youth programs to reach students in their 14-county area. Through their programming, they were able to engage several hundred students by taking them through the ideation stage, idea evaluation, and business model development..

“This was a chance for us to open their minds. Our hope is this is the way to build that culture of entrepreneurship,” said Mike Ames, Program Manager at Biz Foundry.

CO.LAB for the third year in a row hosted the 24Hour Generator with a local school partner, Girls Preparatory School, in Chattanooga, TN. Each year for the past three years, nearly 40 girls hear various challenges in the community, and then use the CO.STARTERS youth curriculum to develop solutions in 24 hours. The competition is part of a conference in Chattanooga designed to empower women called Mad, Bad, & Dangerous.

“We wanted to try it out and test it, and it’s probably the most heartwarming thing that we do,” said CO.LAB COO Allison Reedy.

In central Tennessee, the Girls Scouts of Middle Tennessee is using the CO.STARTERS youth curriculum to even further advance their impact on young women. In fall 2017, they will pilot a several week long program to help girls develop their business ideas and connect them with experienced female mentors. They hope to expand the program after the pilot phase and make it available to all girls in the region in the future.

Sammy Ortiz with Y.E.S. (Young Entrepreneurial Students) focuses on inspiring minority and underprivileged students in his hometown of Dade City, Florida. His hope is that by teaching entrepreneurship to young people in economically distressed areas, it will change the dynamics of their own lives as well as their communities.

Among the various organizations and communities represented on the panel, a consistent theme among them was the importance of recognizing that youth have the creative abilities to be entrepreneurs. All it takes is someone willing to tap into it.

Note: All of these programs are built using CO.STARTERS Generator, a modular program that helps teens explore their passions through generating, testing, and launching ideas. With the ability to choose which modules are best suited to your timeframe and context, CO.STARTERS Generator is a great way to inspire youth with the vision, enthusiasm, and tenacity needed to move from idea to action.