Empowering Hope and Taking Action Through Entrepreneurship
Our mobile devices and the Internet have ushered in a new era of awareness about what's going on in our communities and the world. While vast amounts of information are at our fingertips, this broad worldview can also bring feelings of anxiety and helplessness, especially among younger people. Student entrepreneurship programs, like Uncharted Learning’s INCubatoredu, empower students to create businesses that address and solve the problems that weigh on them.
Traditional thinking about entrepreneurship has been focused on creating businesses to be the 'next thing', but a growing number of budding entrepreneurs are instead focused on making a difference — like the students behind FYDER Filament who are turning bulk plastic wrapping into 3D printing filament, and Grow Greenly who replaced plastic plant pots with self-fertilizing, biodegradable ones. This is entrepreneurship built around social impact, addressing everything from climate change and saving the planet, to supporting mental health and helping disadvantaged people.
The trend toward entrepreneurship for good is not surprising. I have long held the belief that the health of our future depends on the imagination and passion of young people. Let's embrace this momentum, and support students with the tools to realize their dreams and have the local and global impact they want to have. They thirst for it and when given the opportunity, they run with it. INCubatoredu provided my students with discipline, structure, and, importantly, real-world experiences to help them identify and fine-tune their goals and come up with solutions that are both needed and relevant.
Giving Hope to the Homeless
A group of sophomores at Central High School in Hampshire, IL knew that they wanted to help homeless people. During the Discovery phase of their entrepreneurship program, they visited homeless shelters in nearby Elgin, IL, and also spoke with an INCubatoredu alum, Jesus Carranza, who has an independent tech support business, striking up a collaboration. Informed and inspired, the students decided to launch Digital Bloom — a non-profit company that collects used Chromebooks, ‘wipes’ the prior data, and as ‘like-new’ machines, donates them to homeless shelters to help people get back on their feet.
In addition to real-world connections, the tools and methodologies of real entrepreneurs helped the founders of Digital Bloom define their business. One of the founders explained, "There was an assignment in INCubatoredu called a Bug Me list, where you had to think of problems or things that bug you to help give you a business or product idea. That's what started us out. So many people are homeless and there's not just a cure for homelessness or poverty, so what can we do to actually help people rise up from it? With our Chromebooks, they can make resumes, find jobs, do schoolwork, etc. "
Tools for Action
Everyone involved in the INCubatoredu program — mentors, coaches, teachers and the students themselves — see firsthand the power that entrepreneurship education has to turn helplessness into hope and anxiety into action. INCubatoredu provides students with a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports them with the knowledge, network, and expertise needed to make real differences in people’s lives. When some may look away, they see opportunity and make things happen!