Midwestern IU IV: Preparing Future Entrepreneurs for Success

Today’s economy rewards innovation, and Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV is engaged in a multi-faceted partnership to equip students with the skills needed to succeed.

The Entrepreneurship Academy@LindenPointe emerged from a partnership of MIU IV, the eCenter@LindenPointe business incubator, the city of Hermitage, the Franklin Center of Beaver County, Community Connections, and seven Mercer County school districts. The experience blends 21st Century skills with hands-on experiences for local students who learn to infuse their work with critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, adaptability, entrepreneurship, communication, curiosity, and imagination.

Under the academy, 25 seniors from the seven pilot school districts receive four half-days of instruction a week at the eCenter. Students who complete the program receive credit toward high school graduation and up to nine college credits.

The eCenter learning experience is enriched with an entrepreneurship course that students take through the Franklin Center, which provides human services and supplemental education in the region. There, students develop their own Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) business plans. The plans are judged by an eSTEAM panel of experts, and members of the winning team receive cash awards towards startup.  

The business plans require teamwork, said MIU IV Curriculum Director Dr. Cathleen Cubelic. As coaches guide them through the process, students create marketing plans, financial goals, projections summaries, and visions for their companies’ future – learning “the critical skills necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workforce,” she said.

“Local business and community leaders are encouraging our students to investigate business opportunities to build the local economy, as well,” Cubelic said. “It’s a win-win for the kids and the community.”

Students hear talks from Western Pennsylvania businesspeople, and they see real-world business practices in action through excursions to Google Pittsburgh, entrepreneurship workspaces such as InventionLand, and the research-oriented Energy Innovation Center.

The project, funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Discovered in PA, Developed in PA, will expand to Butler County in the 2015-2016 school year.

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