Rebel Round Up- CEO Program
By Jacob Scandrett
Murray County Central High School has been working with the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship and Marshall Public Schools to bring the CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program to our district. The CEO program’s purpose is to connect high school students with local businesses in their communities. The idea behind it is that by exposing our students to the many businesses in our community they will gain a better understanding of what opportunities exist. They will also learn how different businesses operate, what services those businesses provide, and what to consider as they build their own business plans. This program provides students with the time to walk through creating a business plan and the ability to implement that plan by starting their own business. An undergirding philosophy of this program is to keep local talent in the community- a “grow your own” approach so to speak. Ultimately CEO is a course designed to utilize partnerships that help students develop an understanding of business development and processes.
The CEO Program- Why is it important?
It immerses students in the local business community so they see all of the businesses and opportunities that exist there. During this program they begin the process of building a local network of business leaders, owners, managers, etc. This is an opportunity for business owners/ managers to establish relationships with the students and show them the value in staying in the community and working in their businesses (at least where opportunities exist).
It instills an entrepreneurial mindset in those students through the creation and operation of real businesses. This allows students to learn first-hand what it takes to launch and operate a business. Students learn why they need to do things a certain way and why it is important to follow the systems that are in place in a business. While every student leaves the class with their own business, statistically less than 25% continue their business after the class or pursue entrepreneurship later. The other 75% go to work for a business, and bring the problem-solving entrepreneurial mindset and leadership skills to their jobs.
It inspires students to look at their home towns as places to live, work and raise their families rather than leaving for opportunities elsewhere. They learn what kinds of potential jobs / careers are in their backyards. In Midland Institute’s pre & post-impact surveys of students, initially only 10-20% of students planned to stay in their community after high school or college prior to taking the CEO course. After a year of CEO, their mindsets shifted to 65-75% of them planning to stay or return after college.
How does the program work?
Students are selected from partnering schools (Murray County Central and Marshall Public Schools at this point) through an application process. These students meet for 90 minutes each day for an entire school year in local businesses. They tour different facilities (30-50 business visits), listen to guest speakers (30-40 speakers), work on their business plans, and develop an actual business that will be showcased at the annual trade show. The CEO curriculum is aligned with the National Entrepreneurship Education standards and Common Core. Students receive two high school credits for CEO.
So what does it take to launch and sustain the CEO program in our community?
We need investors/ business partners that are willing to invest in our program. In order to launch CEO, we need to have at least 35 partnering businesses committed to contributing $1000/ year for 3 years. These dollars go to help run the program and hire the facilitator who coordinates which businesses the students are touring at any given time and who will be speaking when. Investors may choose to have the CEO students tour their facility and/or speak to the class but this is not a requirement.
We need business visits / guest speakers -either you visit the class or have the class visit your business.
We need business host sites - typically a quarter of the year commitment. You have a place where the class can meet during the week when they are not out on business visits.
We need student mentors - you agree to mentor a student during the class.
We need CEO board members - you help oversee the program. Board Members typically visit the program more frequently, not necessarily to present every time but just to stop in and visit briefly.
The CEO program is a progressive and innovative program that is changing the way students view business opportunities in their own community. The strength of this program is that it fosters a network of support that promotes relationship development within the business community. If you have any questions or would like to discuss ways in which you can help support the CEO program in our community please contact Jake Scandrett at Jacob_Scandrett@mcc.mntm.org.