Youth Entrepreneurship

Cultivating an Entrepreneural Mindset

While there are enterprising K-12 youth who can and do build viable businesses, the main focus of Morgan Foundation’s work in youth entrepreneurship is on building the entrepreneurial mindset and related skillsets as essential elements of a 21st century education.

Entrepreneurship education is a critical component in all students’ academic careers, providing youth with valuable opportunities that build the mindset, agency, and skills to design and actualize new ideas and solutions. It prepares them to develop creative solutions to problems, work collaboratively toward shared goals, adapt to ever-changing conditions, and develop the grit and resilience to forge their own paths. 

As technology drastically alters society and individuals must navigate increasingly complex paths, it is vital that we prepare youth for the unpredictable landscape ahead.

Backbone of Northeast Ohio's Youth Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI) is the anchor organization for Northeast Ohio’s youth entrepreneurship ecosystem.  It is the “front door” that provides individuals, schools, and organizations with a host of programs, resources, professional learning opportunities, and consulting.  Morgan Foundation supports Young Entrepreneur Institute in these endeavors and partners with YEI to host the annual Enspire Conference for educators.


Youth Thought Leadership

The 2019 Northeast Ohio Youth Entrepreneurship Education Landscape Assessment was led by Burton D. Morgan Foundation Fellow Greg Malkin for the purposes of capturing the current state of the ecosystem and identifying areas for future focus. A total of 52 phone interviews were conducted from a curated a list of entrepreneurship education providers in Northeast Ohio, including superintendents, principals, teachers, guidance counselors, out-of-school time providers, and community supporters. After distilling the main themes from the interviews, the Foundation developed strategies to facilitate more authentic, challenge-based learning experiences that engage the community and are rooted in equity.

In July 2019, Morgan Foundation published Intersections:  Connecting Entrepreneurship with 21st Century Learning, an in-depth exploration of youth entrepreneurship education in Northeast Ohio.  The publication presents four case studies that each outline a different model of excellence within the Foundation’s youth grantmaking portfolio and demonstrate that championship of the entrepreneurial spirit comes in many forms. 

Read Youth Intersections Publication


Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Diagram

Morgan Foundation created a visual representation of Northeast Ohio’s youth entrepreneurial ecosystem.  This illustrative diagram is updated regularly and designed to be a resource for stakeholders in our region’s entrepreneurial community.

Youth Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Diagram


Foundation Values - Youth Entrepreneurship Programming

In accordance with the findings of the NEO Youth Entrepreneurship Landscape Assessment, the Foundation prioritizes funding for programs and initiatives that provide authentic, relevant, problem-based learning experiences; support efforts that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion; and engage the business community.  For funding awards, Morgan Foundation seeks programs that work in school settings, incorporate teacher training, and advance the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Burton D. Morgan Foundation values entrepreneurship programs that...

  • Build the entrepreneurial mindset
    Impactful programs allow students to recognize opportunities, innovate solutions, collaborate with others, and adapt to new information by actively engaging with their environments.
  • Empower individual agency
    Creative programs celebrate student-directed learning, informed risk-taking, and failure as ways to cultivate initiative, resiliency, and perseverance.
  • Exhibit interdisciplinary components
    Forward-thinking leaders break down barriers and encourage the integration of entrepreneurship into core areas of study, breeding innovation, and sparking connections.
  • Collaborate with ecosystem partners
    Dynamic organizations facilitate opportunities for students to connect with other entrepreneurial ecosystem resources and promote pathways to continue building their entrepreneurial skills.
  • Leverage resources
    Sustainable integration of entrepreneurship is best accomplished by building upon strengths and developing existing resources.
  • Employ entrepreneurial role models
    Involved parents, teachers, and entrepreneurs ignite and shape the entrepreneurial mindset of youth.
  • Engage underserved populations
    Robust inclusion of diverse ideas, voices, and perspectives enriches students' entrepreneurial experiences and inspires innovation.
  • Use evaluation to fuel growth
    Continuous learning requires more than just basic data - progressive programs employ assessment tools that offer iterative feedback, produce bodies of evidence, inform practices, and galvanize students to advance their skills.
  • Pivot to meet changing needs
    Responsive programs adapt to shifting landscapes to take full advantage of new opportunities and best practices in student learning.
  • Share lessons learned
    Dedicated ecosystem partners prioritize the regular exchange of lessons learned through peer-to-peer sharing.
  • Demonstrate fiscal responsibility