Students in Miami-Dade public schools are getting an early education in the economics of selling a product or service and putting together a business plan. Last year, the New York-based National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship opened a south Florida office and trained 52 teachers to help low-income students learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
"In a nutshell, we give kids hope," says Alice Horn, the foundation's executive director of south Florida.
Through a partnership with Florida International University and Miami Dade College, the foundation trains instructors who teach at Title I eligible schools -- those with at least 40% of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. More than 2,000 students participated in the entrepreneurship training as part of social science, economics or entrepreneurship classes at 23 high schools, middle schools and community organizations. This year, Horn says that the group hopes to train an additional 30 teachers.
Support for the foundation in south Florida comes from a two-year, $500,000 grant from the non-profit Advanced Network & Services, a $135,000 contract with Miami-Dade Public Schools and from Royal Caribbean, American Express, Staples, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.
This year, Horn is hoping that more schools will incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum as part of Florida's A++ school reform, which requires students entering high school to select a "major area of interest." Entrepreneurship is one of the majors approved by the Florida Department of Education. "You couldn't get a more wonderful mandate from former Gov. Jeb Bush before he left office, and I'm sure it will be continued by the current administration," says Horn.
For now, the foundation will remain focused on Miami-Dade and one participating school in Broward County. Horn says she hopes to expand to other parts of south Florida beginning in 2009.