Equally important was the opportunity to strengthen the potential for success of current and future small business owners in our region. We saw that as integral to the economy of our area. The goal of the initiative was to develop strong entrepreneurial skills leading to a talented, competent work force.
Armed with information provided thru NACCE from the Kauffman Foundation, we knew that 65 percent of students across the United States plan to start a small business, work in a family owned small business or grow an existing small business they already started in high school. In collaboration with our technical and comprehensive high school partners we developed several programs to foster small business skills in students and faculty alike.
The timing of our initiative was perfect. Our technical high school partners were investigating ways to incorporate entrepreneurship skills into their curriculum. In August 2007 the Massachusetts Department of Education developed new Vocational Technical Education Frameworks or Strands as they are known. Strand 5, Management and Entrepreneurship, requires that the technical high schools expose students to a variety of entrepreneurship knowledge including the analysis of basic business practices, management of business resources, managing, organizing, retrieving and reporting financial data, application of labor and civil rights law, guidelines to business practices and decisions, evaluation of the effects of community relations on companies, and the legal and ethical requirements of business practice and decisions. MCC assisted with the development of curriculum that helped the technical high schools implement this requirement.
We implemented vertical teaming strategies that identified the curriculum components of the high school and the community college programs. Also, this relationship created a seamless pathway from the high school to the community college entrepreneurship program.
These activities were completed as part of this entrepreneurship grant:
• Vertical Teaming with MCC Business and Computer Applications faculty and Business and Computer Applications faculty from the high schools
• Entrepreneurship training for Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School and the Out of School Youth Development Center
• Online and classroom course development for use in the high schools
• Business Plan Competition for students
• Professional Development for MCC faculty–held at MCC and provided by the executive director of the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center
• Major entrepreneurship event for students from MCC and all the partnering high school groups– Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour held at MCC’s Bedford Campus
• Business Simulation Software–purchased requested software for high school and MCC faculty–MCC faculty investigated simulation software in collaboration with high school faculty and recommended software to be purchased.
We were fortunate to have an on-campus resource for entrepreneurship skills development. The Lowell Small Business Assistance Center, a collaboration of Middlesex Community College, the City of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Community Teamwork Incorporated assisted with the implementation of the program. The executive director of the Center, Russ Smith, created a professional development seminar for our faculty. A professional development workshop for MCC faculty was also developed and presented to10 MCC Business, Engineering and Technology faculty. The participants incorporated the information learned into their course. Stipends were paid to the participants upon submission of a new syllabus highlighting the integration of entrepreneurship curriculum content in their course.
Terry Williams, of the Center, adapted an entrepreneurship program used at the Center for students at the Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School and the Out of School Youth Development Center, two other initiatives of MCC. Students participated in an entrepreneurship course that was an adaptation of the LSBAC’s Right Start Entrepreneur program. The program included workshops in Marketing, Finance, Introduction to Business, Sales and Business Law. The material, which was originally created for an adult audience, was adapted to provide dynamic and developmentally appropriate curriculum for the students.
MCC faculty assisted our high school partners in the development of three classroom modules on various topics in Entrepreneurship. Additionally they collaborated in the development of an on-line course designed to infuse entrepreneurship training into the standard curriculum.
One of the more exciting and rewarding components of the whole program was a Business Plan Competition held at Middlesex Community College for students from area high schools. Twelve students or groups of students participated in the competition. Cash prizes were awarded for the top six performing students or teams. All participants received a $25 award. MCC faculty and administration served as judges. DECA Business Plan and judging guidelines were used.
Additionally, a major entrepreneurship event, Extreme Entrepreneur, was held at the college’s Bedford campus and was conducted by a youth entrepreneurship training organization that presents this activity for schools and youth groups all over the country. The event included a young, successful keynote speaker, action workshops, structured networking workshops and an entrepreneur speaker panel. The organization provided media coverage for the event. We provided bus transportation to the campus for high school students. One hundred seventy area high school students attended. Students were truly energized by the event, and some commented it was the best field trip they ever had.
Finally, Business simulation software was purchased from the grant funds. This software will allow students to work virtually within a retail business, develop product, and marketing strategies and have their choices assessed by the software. Also, a year’s subscription to Hoovers was purchased. MCC faculty will be able to use the information provided at this site to access information about local and national businesses including sales, employees and financial data.
We are fortunate to have received another round of funding from the State. This will allow us to expand on the activities completed in 2008 and explore other ways to grow entrepreneurship skills in our area. The program was ambitious, but the rewards were many. All involved gained a much deeper understanding of the science and art that is entrepreneurship.
For more information about this program contact Judith Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org