Open For Business: Entrepreneurship Education At CCBC
Monday, February 7, 2011
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
by Leslie Tennant
Director of Communications
Community College of Beaver County, Monaca, PA
Long before entrepreneurship became the buzzword it is today, Community College of Beaver County recognized that the survival of our community would rely on business entrepreneurs generating an economic turn-around for Western Pennsylvania.
In 2005, the Board of Trustees along with CCBC President Dr. Joe Forrester identified promoting entrepreneurship education as a long-term priority and an essential part of enhancing economic development and revitalizing a community in transition. In 2008, two faculty presenters, John Goberish and Paul Rogers, received a grant to develop the entrepreneurship program and based on that successful grant, in 2009, CCBC hosted the national Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour highlighting youth involvement in these types of programs.
One of the keys to CCBC's successful approach to entrepreneurship education has been to create the opportunity to introduce or expand entrepreneurial education in local school districts and to create a pathway from middle school and high school to credit and non-credit offerings at the college. CCBC has accomplished this by engaging two key organizations within our community – the Franklin Center of Aliquippa and Entrepreneuring Youth, a non-profit educational and entrepreneurial program that provides real life experiences in business creation so young people acquire knowledge and skills essential for academic success and economic security.
Summer Biz Camp
CCBC, Entrepreneuring Youth (E Youth) and the Franklin Center of Aliquippa sponsored two six-week business camps for 34 middle and high school students in Beaver County during the months of June, July and August. The intermediate camp, BlueSky Biz™, introduced 18 youth to the world of entrepreneurship while the Advanced Business Camp deepened the ownership experience for 16 young people who had already attended the intermediate camp last year.
The foundation of each camp was built on business ownership. Through a variety of interactive and hands-on learning activities, field trips and guest speakers, these young people discovered how a small business is created and generates profits and had the opportunity to envision themselves as founders and owners of an enterprise that they created.
"In keeping with the mission of CCBC, the Biz Camp is reaching out to the community in areas not normally serviced by our core courses and curriculum,” stated John Goberish, manager of CCBC's Continuing Education Division. "The involvement of middle school youth in entrepreneurship programs helps begin the pathway for business options at any point in a student's education.”
From the very first day participants were highly engaged and accountable for choices that led to the opportunity to make money (and keep the profits!). Based on interests, skills and opportunity recognition, the young people selected businesses ranging from customized crafts like jewelry, healing cream and personalized greeting cards to services such as gardening, tutoring and babysitting.
During the camp, participants took part in two capstone events. The first was a Market Day where they were able to sell their products to the public at the Beaver Valley Mall. Armed with business cards, brochures and engaging sales pitches these young people experienced the exhilaration of making a sale.
"The biggest benefit of our involvement in Biz Camp is to see the kids take an idea from abstract dream to concrete reality and to watch the dawning of recognition on their faces when they first realize that, yes, I can do this and be successful. The life skills that they walk away with at the end of camp are invaluable,” said Sandy Edwards, education director for the Franklin Center
The second event was a Business Plan Competition, held at CCBC, which let the young entrepreneurs present their business plan to judges chosen from the college, local businesses, and the community. Three finalists were chosen from each camp and received monetary awards in recognition of their achievement. The ownership experience helped these young people see how ‘my goals' and ‘my education' are inextricably linked. They realize just how much they already influence and control their lives.
At the end of camp, the students take away great delight from making money and great pride from creating and selling something they are passionate about and enjoy doing as a possible future career path.
"Individuals and organizations that possess an entrepreneurial mindset will be more innovative, will be more adaptable, will strive to challenge the status quo, and will create more opportunities for our region,” stated Goberish. "Entrepreneurship is about being empowered, taking action, and creating new opportunities rather than passively waiting for opportunity to find us.”
And, CCBC is doing just that.