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Knowledge: Integrate Entrepreneurship into K-16 Education (Federal, State, Local)

To ensure that a strong current of entrepreneurial talent is continuously emerging in the United States, policies must jumpstart the stagnant rate of new entrepreneurs, grow the next generation of business owners, and develop employees with entrepreneurial capabilities. To do this, policymakers should:

  • Embed entrepreneurial know-how and spirit in classrooms throughout America by creating opportunities for students to explore and acquire the habits of mind, behaviors, skills, knowledge, and competencies that equip them to be entrepreneurial – whether by creating businesses themselves or by making contributions as employees and community members.
  • Provide students with real world learning experiences through project-based learning, client-based projects, and internships.
  • Give students opportunities to explore design thinking and prototyping, problem-solving and communications, as well as ensuring all students are leaving high school with basic financial literacy skills.
  • Examine how state agencies can better collaborate, collect appropriate data, provide curriculum and credit flexibility, and allow for alternative teacher certification pathways.
  • Monitor state funding formula implications that will support or incentivize real world learning within districts.
  • Ensure local entities work closely with employers, especially new businesses, on alignment of curriculum to workforce needs in order to ensure equity of access to employer-based learning opportunities.

Supporting Evidence

  • Research has shown that with appropriate course content, entrepreneurial education and training in K-16 is linked to positive business outcomes.
  • A meta-analysis found a significant relationship between entrepreneurship education and training and corresponding entrepreneurship outcomes.

The Appalachian Entrepreneurship Education Continuum
Seven community colleges in Appalachia joined to form the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Education Continuum, which has two major components. First, entrepreneurship is embedded into existing lesson plans for K-12 students. Second, the Education Continuum partners with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship to connect the community colleges with local K-12 schools. The community college students then use the curricula to “highlight entrepreneurship opportunities for the students and community.” This model paves the way for workforce development in the heart of Appalachia and coal country by helping states develop entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses.