Dakota Foundation, Center for Innovation announce support for youth entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs in Grand Forks and three other North Dakota communities will experience what it’s like to run their own town and start their own businesses by attending one of four Mini-Society® Young Entrepreneur Summer Camps during May, June and July.

The Dakota Foundation and the UND Center for Innovation Foundation announce a $50,000 grant to support the expansion of entrepreneurship education programs for elementary and middle school students to help grow the next generation of entrepreneurs and civic leaders, while helping North Dakota youth realize their potential to start up ventures in the marketplace. Barry Striegel, a doctoral student in teacher education at UND, is director of this Youth Entrepreneurship Education Project.

Mini-Society is known to be an effective and popular entrepreneurship education program that increases the level of academic performance, entrepreneurial thinking, career aspirations, civic participation and personal resilience of elementary and middle school students. The grant will enable expansion of the Young Entrepreneurs Summer Camps as well as support entrepreneurship education programs in the classroom during the regular school year. It is hoped this support will help secure longer-term public and private funding commitments for youth entrepreneurship education.

The UND Center for Innovation hosted the first summer camp in 2006. During the summer of 2007, Striegel directed two additional camps at the Ojibwa Indian School in Belcourt and the Strom Center for Entrepreneurship at Dickinson State University.

The Mini-Society Summer Camps will expand from a one-week to a two-week program and grow from three sites to four with the addition of a new summer camp at Ft. Berthold Community College in New Town to better serve youth who are educated in predominately Native American communities. The grant also will support entrepreneurship education programs in classrooms during the regular school year and enable the training of new Mini-Society facilitators.

Striegel will coordinate and evaluate two, eight-week entrepreneurship education classroom pilot projects through May 2008 in cooperating elementary and middle schools. The first classroom project is already under way at Valley Middle School and the second will begin in March in a cooperating elementary classroom in a nearby community. Striegel will recruit new facilitators from the ranks of UND’s undergraduate entrepreneurship and teacher education programs.

The 2008 goal is to reach more than 200 youngsters as well as parents, teachers and youth group leaders so they can experience the personal and social benefits of entrepreneurship and learn more about entrepreneurial thinking in a hands-on, experienced-based setting. Striegel is a nationally-certified entrepreneurship educator and a classroom teacher with more than 25 years experience. He has facilitated classroom Mini-Society Entrepreneurship Education Programs for 12 years and trained hundreds of Mini-Society facilitators as a consultant with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The Dakota Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 by Bart and Lynn Holaday to focus their philanthropic efforts on initiatives that foster social entrepreneurship in the states of North Dakota and New Mexico.

UND’s Center for Innovation helps entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers and students launch new technologies, products and ventures, develop business and marketing plans, access talent of universities and secure venture financing. The Center has won five national awards for excellence in innovation and technology entrepreneurship, and the entrepreneur program was ranked in the top 10 programs in the nation as No. 9 out of 900 entrepreneur programs (top 1 percent).

For more information about the Mini-Society Summer Camps and the classroom entrepreneurship education pilot projects, contact Barry Striegel at 701-741-6985 or via e-mail at b.striegel@und.edu. To contact the Center For Innovation’s Program liaison, call Tom Kenville at 777-3132 or send an e-mail to tom@innovators.net.
-- Barry Striegel, GTA, Teaching & Learning, b.striegel@und.edu, 701-741-6985