Startup Experience Youth Entrepreneurship Program Launching!

Startup Experience Youth Entrepreneurship Program Launching!

Hello Friends of the Fund!

It is with much excitement that we get to write this month about a new program that we have been working on for many months now. We will be launching our very first 2-day Startup Experience youth entrepreneurship workshop series on October 4th and 5th at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Center.

The Startup Experience is an intensive hands-on workshop for future entrepreneurs and social innovators. During the program over 200 students, grades 10-11, from five Shenandoah Valley school systems will immerse themselves in the magical startup world and learn what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

They will learn about Startup team formation, problem definition, user analysis, idea creation, business model innovation, customer development, prototyping, web development, fundraising and professional pitching, and get hands-on experience with the tools they need to create a successful startup company!

Through entrepreneurship education, these young innovators will learn organizational skills, including time management, leadership development, and interpersonal skills, all of which are highly transferable skills sought by employers.

Recent national studies report other positive outcomes of youth entrepreneurship programs including:

  • improved academic performance, school attendance, and educational attainment
  • increased problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • improved interpersonal relationships, teamwork, money management, and public speaking skills
  • job readiness
  • enhanced social psychological development (self-esteem, ego development, self-efficacy), and
  • perceived improved health status

Additionally, ongoing research commissioned by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of youth entrepreneurship programs found that when youth participated in entrepreneurship programs:

  • interest in attending college increased 32%
  • occupational aspirations increased 44%
  • independent reading increased 4%
  • leadership behavior increased 8.5%
  • belief that attaining one’s goals is within one’s control (locus of control) increased

We look forward to facilitating the first Startup Experience in October and many more in the future.

Though we received a generous grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to help us fund this program, we need your help! We developed sponsorship opportunities for the program and many opportunities are still available. We hope you will consider becoming a sponsor or making a generous donation today! For more information on the sponsorship opportunities available, please contact me at or Debbie Irwin at


Kathy Deacon
Executive Director

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