In June 2007 Charter Partners Institute launched its first annual summer entrepreneurial education program. Highlighting the experience known as “A Week in the Life of an Entrepreneur” was a real-world, hands-on opportunity for students to build a business and present the plan to a venture capital panel for review.
Seventeen students, representing seven area high schools from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, learned by creating, listening and participating. The students heard entrepreneurs’ success stories, participated in interactive personal development seminars, and developed their own business plans with the help of entrepreneur mentors.
Students who participated in the 2007 “A Week in the Life of an Entrepreneur” were introduced to the world of entrepreneurs with these words……
“Welcome to a week in the life of an entrepreneur. Our challenge to you is this: Entrepreneurship is an option. Integrity is not! Your task over the course of this week is to start a business. The only rule is to proceed with respect and integrity. See you on Friday!”
Todd Welch, Co-founder, Charter Partners Institute
Charter Partners Institute regards learning as an inquiry-based, experiential process. This innovative approach to educating youth is designed to give our high school students the skills and experience necessary to become creative thinkers, fearless problem solvers and skilled entrepreneurs in whatever career path they might choose. For one week in the summer of 2007, students listened to the stories of successful entrepreneurs; engaged in seminars on leadership, ethics and interpersonal skills; and, most importantly, worked together in teams and with volunteer mentors as they developed their business ideas.
At the conclusion of the week long experience, each teen presented a business as an individual or team member. Ideas included: a teen recreation center, a mobile car wash delivery system, a vibrating-bed-alarm company, a teen temp agency, a disc jockey business, a national youth business conference, a handmade greeting card company and a web/graphic design firm.
A venture capital panel listened to the presentations, debated the potential of each company, and finally awarded three companies $500 and asked them to return in August to present a more complete business plan. Those companies were: Nicole Maione’s Busta Argento, a handmade greeting card company; Curtis Webb’s National Youth Business Conference, a youth business conference; and Xin Chi Yang’s web and graphic design company, Vipier.
At the final competition, held on August 20, 2007, XinChi Yang was awarded first prize. Her web and graphic design company, Vipier, works with clients to understand their needs and vision, then outsources the work to a group of independent teen contractors to make that vision a reality. Having teens do the work is one of Vipier’s strategic advantages, enabling clients to get professional quality work. Vipier is currently working on four design projects.
Charter Partners Institute was created in response to co-founder Todd Welch’s frustration with traditional learning when he was in high school. It wasn’t until he started working in his father’s insurance business that he recognized the correlation between the knowledge he gained in school and success in business. His dream was to create a way to engage high school students in real-world business experience while still in high school. He felt they could more easily recognize the importance of what they were learning in the classroom through a real entrepreneurial business experience. The result of his vision was Charter Partners Institute, whose mission is to attract, inspire and nurture the next generation of cooperative entrepreneurs through real world, hands-on entrepreneurial learning experiences.