As much as we love the idea of throwing an awesome unofficial SXSW party for our friends to come hang out and listen to great music, we knew that our 17th Street Party at the Rail could be more than that. Allen, our communications and outreach manager, came up with the idea of working with Snoball to raise funds so we can extend our JET Program to more East Austin high school students.
We started the Junior Entrepreneurship Track program last year as a way to put our message of economic independence and entrepreneurship out there with a younger audience, an audience often overlooked as a group of potential business and community leaders.
Our four-week summer course, in partnership with Eastside Memorial High School and supported by Capital One, gives these students a chance to receive hands-on-training in getting a business off the ground, work with state-of-the-art software and maybe even, win an award for their business plan at the Top Seed Business Plan Competition.
You might be thinking, ‘why would a student want to spend four weeks of their summer in an education program anyway?’ The truth is quite a few do. According to a study from the Youth Entrepreneur Council, 89 percent of students responded that learning about entrepreneurship is important for them to get a job in this economy, but 73 percent were not offered any entrepreneurship classes, even in college.
Entrepreneurship education is more than teaching someone how to start a business. It’s developing an entrepreneurial mindset: taking ownership over your own employment, learning more about your community and recognizing your own potential as a leader. This study from the Aspen Institute makes the case that a key aspect of keeping high school students in school is supplementing the curriculum with entrepreneurship education and it’s easy to see why. When you show students their own potential and teach them that their ideas could turn into profit, they’re going to be more invested in their learning and community.
It always starts at the local level, which is where we’re starting here in Austin. We can’t do it without your help though. We’re hoping to offer this to 120 students this summer, but we need to hire more instructors and purchase more software licenses. Help us out by signing up for a SnoBall account, starting a SnoBall for PeopleFund and the JET Program, and inviting all of your friends to do the same at the #17StParty.