Be CEO at 17: Rochester Public Schools launching entrepreneurship program
Students will get a hands-on experience in starting their own business through a new course being offered through Rochester Public Schools.
This fall, the district will debut INCubatoredu, a full-year program that encourages students to think and act like entrepreneurs. The course will be open — no prerequisites required — to juniors and seniors at Rochester’s four public high schools (Century, John Marshall, Mayo, and RALC).
The program, according to Superintendent Michael Muñoz, will give participating students the opportunity to take an idea and turn it into a real-life startup. At the end of the school year, teams of students will compete for funding in a Shark Tank-like pitch competition.
Muñoz said the goal for INCubatoredu is two-fold.
First, it will prepare students to be collaborators, communicators, and problem solvers. Muñoz said these are the type of 21st century skills that he hears a lot about when talking with employers in the area.
Second, he said, the program will empower students who think outside of the box to start their own businesses. He pointed to Michelle Mai, the Century senior whose creation of an at-home strep throat detection kit earned her recognition from Harvard’s Journal of Emerging Investigators.
“We already have kids that think this way,” said Muñoz. “They see a problem and want to design a product or service to address it.”
Courses for RPS’s INCubatoredu will be held in downtown Rochester, putting students in close proximity to local experts and mentors.
The superintendent has been working with the Destination Medical Center office to get the word out about the program to the local entrepreneurial community. Having already met with over a dozen individuals, Muñoz said he is encouraged by the level of interest that exists here locally.
“We will be tapping into our network of community resources to help teach some of the coursework,” said Muñoz.
The curriculum, developed by Illinois-based Uncharted Learning, is already used by more than 200 schools in 22 states, along with Mexico and Japan. This, however, will be the first course of its kind offered in Minnesota.
To start, the course will be open to 25 students. If successful, Muñoz said he hopes to grow the program so there are classes running throughout the day.
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