Saint Louis University

K-12 Entrepreneurship

Laura Gardner and Jerry Katz

v.4.2, July 28, 2016

Youth entrepreneurship is the grown-up term for students in elementary and high schools starting their own firms. While there are some famous cases, with Bill Gates being one of the best known, youth entrepreneurship happens a lot more often and in a lot more ways, some probably close at home to you!

Lots of teens and pre-teens are interested. A Gallup Poll showed that 50% of minority students and 37% of white students in grades 5-12 in late 2013 were planning to someday start a business of their own. Perhaps what has gotten better is that the press around young people who are starting their own businesses abound in the media.

Even better, there are now a lot of good places to look for advice and help on the web. Below eWeb provides links to those few sites ready to give youth help over the web, as well as the list of sites for organizations helping K-12 entrepreneurship through adults. The list comes from our own high school summer academies director Laura Gardner. With an additional thanks to Dakota Lowe.

Sites For K-12 Entrepreneurs

SBA Young Entrepreneurs: The SBA (Small Business Administration) is the US Government agency which focuses on promoting small business. They've created this site with new versions of some of their most popular material redone to do more for young entrepreneurs. The content is right up-to-date, and the site connects you to all sorts of free government help. One good thing about the site is that everything is available for free - no one is trying to sell you anything, and the SBA has a long record to helping small business owners. This is a website that got started focusing on youth investing in the stock market with a small section on youth entrepreneurship. The free material is good, but the amount of it has not grown much over the past few years. There is a members only section which requires a fee, but the free materials are plentiful and very good. Grade: B-

All Terrain Brain: All Terrain Brain is a site which focuses on 8-12 year old future and current owners! The site has lots of graphics and videos (there is a TV show behind this), and ATB's goal is to help current and future entrepreneurs develop a creative and flexible mindset, one focusing on solving problems. There are lots of online games to try and explanations for entrepreneurs and parents alike. 

Ashoka Youthventure: Is an organization that organizes teams of youth to develop businesses to help their communities. It is one of the few websites to actually have online material of use to prospective youth entrepreneurs, including advice on getting started success stories. YouthVenture partners with which is one of the leading organizations supporting social entrepreneurship, and the resulting website is outstanding!

Teen Business: News and information portal for young entrepreneurs, investors, and their parents

Local Organizations

Prosper Next: Prosper's Youth and Collegiate program for high school and college female entrepreneurs  ·      

Spark Incubator: Business incubator for high school students. Located in Chesterfield, MO ·      

STEMpact: Resource hub for STEM education including free sample lesson plans ·      

St. Louis Science Center YES Entrepreneurship Club (YEC) ·      

YouthinBiz: non-profit focused on bringing entrepreneurship to under served areas in STL ·      

YWCA Emerging Entrepreneurs Program: Entrepreneurship education with partnering high schools

National Organizations Helping To Develop K-12 Entrepreneurship

The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education: One of the oldest organizations in this business :-) and one of the few sites that puts their material online for folks to use. The site has cases, success stories, projects, and activities accessible from here.

Junior Achievement: The grandparent of free enterprise training in the schools has a series of programs for K-12 (actually an annual series for K-6) which talks more about economic issues than starting a business. THAT gets reserved for older kids.

National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship: Another old, established player in the business, NFTE has an adult-lead program for training teens in entrepreneurship. One of the most widely used curricula in the country, NFTE has expanded into camps and more diverse publishing. 

NFIB Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom Programs: Free entrepreneurship curriculum from the leading professional association for small businesses in the USA.

Venture Lab: provides entrepreneurship and technology programs for K-12 students

Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) Accelerator Strand: Business incubator for high school students. Numerous locations around country. STL CAPS here. (Note: STL CAPS site will move soon).

DECA: prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in finance, hospitality, and management

Independent Youth: Offers programs to spark and grow students' minds and passions and is built on peer-to-peer mentoring from successful teen entrepreneurs with high school students.

Lemonade Day: a fun and easy way to teach kids entrepreneurship skills.

BFS Captial Teaching Kids Business: A compendium of web links, games and PDFs to teach kids about entrepreneurship and managing money.

Whatever it Takes (WIT): Social entrepreneurship program for teens. Various locations around the country. 

STL WIT Youth Creating Impact Through Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (CITIES): Various programs and workshops to foster change in the community through entrepreneurial principles. 

STL Venture Cafe CITIES March-to-May Bootcamp here. 

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: Has a series of programs to promote youth entrepreneurship, including the All Terrain Brain and studies mentioned above.

Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE): Is focused on college aged students and is one of the major national organizations underlying college "entrepreneurship clubs." Saint Louis University has a SIFE chapter. To see what they're up to, click here.

OPENAIR-MARKET NET: The World Wide Guide to Farmers' Markets, Street Markets, Flea Markets and Street Vendors - from Steve Balkin, Alfonso Morales, and John Cross provides a neat listing of websites tied into these low-cost forums for selling. Not strictly youth oriented, but as a place for youth to try their selling skills with little up-front cost, its a good resource to know.

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