President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., will speak about ways to expand youth entrepreneurship opportunities today at a meeting of national business, education, public policy, media and philanthropy leaders.
The meeting will focus on a new policy initiative, the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group, designed to expand entrepreneurship education in the nation’s low-income communities. The meeting, which is taking place Sept. 26 through 28 in Aspen, Co., was organized by E*TRADE Financial, the Aspen Institute and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
“There is compelling evidence that young people who learn about entrepreneurship develop a ‘success’ orientation and are more likely to be focused on becoming professionals and entering the workforce,” said Dr. Spinelli, who was vice provost for entrepreneurship and global management at Babson College before coming to Philadelphia University Sept. 1. In addition, Dr. Spinelli’s entrepreneurial experience includes co-founding the national quick lube chain Jiffy Lube just a few years out of college.
The new strategy group will explore the promise of and obstacles to implementing youth entrepreneurship education in low-income communities; develop a concrete strategy to advance the teaching of such skills; and advocate for public discussion and action on the issue.
According to the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the traditional educational approach is not working for many disadvantaged students. A 2004 Children’s Defense Fund study found that low-income youths are three and a half times more likely to drop out of high school than are middle-income students. And in a 2006 Gates Foundation survey, 81 percent of high school dropouts said more opportunities for “real-world learning” in school would have improved their chances of graduating.
These issues are particularly important in light of growing concerns about the ability of the United States to compete in a global economy. “Workforce readiness requires not only reading and math, but also opportunity recognition, creativity and problem-solving skills, which are not given enough airtime in today’s classrooms,” Dr. Spinelli said.