“I thought business was an impenetrable institution that nobody could get into,” said Charity, a high school student in Detroit.
And then she started her own.
Charity co-founded a beauty supply business while enrolled in Youth Entrepreneurs, an elective high school program geared toward students from low-income communities.
Renate is a teacher of Youth Entrepreneurs, which offers students an opportunity to learn the values and skills they'll need to succeed in life. The program helps students learn through pursuing their interests in business while empowering teachers to make learning an exciting experience instead of a chore.
“I love the growth I see in my students and the growth that I see in myself, as well,” Renate said.
In contrast to today’s system, which places too much emphasis on rote memorization and testing, students in Renate’s Detroit classroom engage in hands-on projects to build self-confidence and real-world experience.
Renate’s students start their own business as a class project, which helps them learn about their strengths and weaknesses, gain knowledge and skills like financial literacy. Some even go on to make real money with their businesses. As Renate’s colleague Jason Filie put it, “These students all have the ability to accomplish whatever they want to. It’s a matter of finding a way to get that out of them.”
It’s easy to make such claims, but Youth Entrepreneurs has the results to back it up. 99-percent of Youth Entrepreneur’s students will graduate from high school, and 61 percent of YE’s 30,000 alumni have graduated from college, compared with the national average of 40 percent.
This success is also deeply personal. As Charity puts it: “I found my confidence in myself and the ability to make products that people value.”
Working with the Stand Together community, Youth Entrepreneurs has expanded from 50 programs in three states in 2015 to almost 300 programs in 19 states in 2019. And it’s just one of more than 50 organizations partnering with the Stand Together community on K-12 education, helping 80,000 teachers unlock their student’s potential.