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Blog Post by Deborah Hoover                                             

Northeast Ohio:  Hotbed of Education Innovation 

Global Entrepreneurship Week--November 16-22, 2015--offers a great opportunity to celebrate the breadth of entrepreneurship education opportunities available in our region! Northeast Ohio is home to pivotal innovations in many different fields--liquid crystal technology, polymers, bridge building, steel making, biomedical devices, chemicals, electric power and light--to name a few. We can now add to this roster of achievements our region's status as a hotbed of experimentation in entrepreneurship education. No longer a "nice to have" in schools and universities, entrepreneurship education has entered the mainstream.

Kids all over our region are experiencing what it means to be an entrepreneur through programs offered by Junior Achievement, Lemonade Day NEO, and Camp Invention. Entrepreneur and math teacher, Greg Malkin heads up the Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI) based at University School, serving the entire region with counsel and support to teachers who want to inject entrepreneurial thinking into their classrooms. YEI also oversees Young Entrepreneur Market, offering students the opportunity to sell their products to customers at local farmers' markets.

In November 2015, YEI organized Northeast Ohio's inaugural two-day ENSPIRE conference, providing the framework for entrepreneurship-minded educators to explore teaching techniques with national experts. Two hundred teachers gathered at University School to learn from Daymond John, Shark Tank superstar, and Jessica Jackley, dynamic founder of the micro-lending website, Kiva. Both these inspiring speakers coached teachers to encourage young entrepreneurs to pursue ideas in fields they love and keep working at it, even in the face of adversity.

Key to student real life experience is the pitch competition, now a mainstay in the youth entrepreneurship world. In conjunction with ENSPIRE, YEI organized TeenTechTank, soliciting 90-second pitch entries from teens with a "techie" idea. From a slew of entries, judges selected five lucky teens to earn Cleveland State University scholarships for their entrepreneurial potential--and the opportunity to have their pitches critiqued by Daymond John. Entrepreneurial potential is finally being recognized and valued as an important predictor of educational success!

Once students are ready to move on from high school entrepreneurship training, programs abound at Northeast Ohio colleges and universities. From classroom learning to venture incubation to hackathons, campuses in our region are helping students start all kinds of businesses in fields such as technology, fashion, food, and even entertainment. The Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund offers a program on a number of campuses that allows students to understand the venture financing process as they perform due diligence required to judge the worth and potential of new businesses. Internships with startup companies are another enticing avenue available for students to explore their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart and co-founder of the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council, says of the state of our entrepreneurship education ecosystem--"Northeast Ohio is blessed with an abundance of experienced people who champion the cause of entrepreneurship education, inspire the entrepreneurial mindset, and serve as influential mentors to young people. Our region will reap the benefits of this pipeline of entrepreneurial talent in the years to come as Northeast Ohio continues to excel as an entrepreneurship-friendly destination."

Thank you to University School, Young Entrepreneur Institute, and all of the partners, sponsors, speakers, communication ambassadors, volunteers, and attendees who helped to make Enspire 2015 such a success! 

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