The Carbondale Technology Transfer Center’s (CTTC) Entrepreneurship Academy seeks to expose high school students (primarily sophomores and juniors) in the CTTC footprint (Carbondale Area, Forest City Regional, and Western Wayne School Districts) to the concept of entrepreneurship and its supporting characteristics. These business skills include leadership, marketing, effective business practices, and a spirit of independent thinking. Students participating in the program are educated through classroom instruction along with hands-on learning through the completion of a project in conjunction with a local business. Currently, expansion plans for bringing this program to other local districts in Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne Counties are underway.
How Does the Entrepreneurship Academy Work?
The Entrepreneurship Academy is an educational component of the CTTC that strives to develop the next generation of tenants seeking use of a business incubator. This educational series strives to develop the next generation of tenants of the Carbondale incubator through local business leaders teaching sessions on core business topics that are valuable to Entrepreneurs. In past sessions students have learned about a variety of topics, including start-up funding, marketing, and philanthropy. By cultivating an interest in entrepreneurship in the high school setting, we hope to “plant the seed” that you can create and run your own business based on passion, idea, and/or talent.
The Entrepreneurship Academy is very closely based on the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Global Entrepreneurship (PGSGE), which was based at Lehigh University. The Pennsylvania Governor’s School was structured to take the state’s “best and brightest” students and immerse them in a 4-week curriculum of high-level education experiences. During this time they are being exposed to the opportunities that exist within the state in an effort to combat the “brain-drain” that the state experiences.
The Need for a Local Entrepreneurship Academy
Throughout our region in Pennsylvania a reputation has been developed for having a hard working labor pool, as a result, many companies choose this area to open secondary or tertiary locations, which puts our area at a disadvantage when it comes time to shutter or relocate a facility. This is a result of the corporate leaders having little allegiance to the area and their headquarters are not often based here. This educational program’s approach differs from others in that it seeks to not only strengthen current local businesses, but also strives to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs leading them to create new businesses rather than importing employers from other areas. We feel that the key to improving the economy of our area is to change the mindset of the next generation; instilling the entrepreneurial spirit of independent thinking into the youth of the region.
The Entrepreneurship Academy was instituted as a pilot program at Carbondale Area High School in the 2014/2015 school year. The 2020/2021 academic year marks the 6th year of our program at Carbondale Area, our 3rd at Forest City Regional and our 1st at Western Wayne.
The curriculum for the Entrepreneur Academy consists of three main parts, Entrepreneurial Education, Entrepreneurial Exchange, and Entrepreneurial Experience Sessions. Both the Education and Exchange sessions allow students to form a direct correlation between the lessons that they are learning in business classes to real-world business experiences. At the conclusion of the program the students present their findings and suggested course of action to representatives of the company. This capstone experience provides a unique opportunity that few business students in college get to encounter, let alone a high school student.
Students learn about the core topics that are valuable to entrepreneurs, such as developing a business plan, financial management, and the importance of philanthropy.
Sessions are led by local entrepreneurs and business leaders who share their knowledge, expertise, and experience with the students. During these sessions some local political, non-profit, and business leaders also share their experience in running their small business out of a business incubator like the Carbondale Technology Transfer Center.
Members of the local political, nonprofit, and business community share their experiences in business.
Speakers focus more on their personal story, including what made their businesses successful and personal stories about lessons learned and risks taken through their careers.
Students tour our business incubator facility located in the Carbondale Industrial Yard, to visit our start-up companies and speak with the owners of the companies.
Students get the opportunity to apply the skills they have learned through their normal classroom curriculum and the Entrepreneurial Education and Experience sessions to solve a problem facing a local business.
The participating business presents an overview of their company, and presents a “problem” resulting in a project to create a solution.
Students can break down into teams and act as consultants to the business; studying the problem and developing their own solutions and recommendations.
Carbondale Area Jr/Sr High School Course
In the Carbondale Area School District, where our program has been in existence since 2014, our program is based in the Virtual Business Class. The class curriculum consists of the students running a virtual business in an online ecosystem with other classes across the country. The students learn about various aspects of starting and expanding a company, including pricing, sales, business plans, risk management, and project management The students then apply the concepts they learn in the traditional classroom setting to their online company. During our sessions, other students who are not enrolled in the class, but are members of the Future Business Leaders of America Club participate, bringing the total number of students participating in the program to approximately 30.
At Forest City Regional High School our program is based within their Entrepreneurship class, in which students study the concept of entrepreneurship and its supporting characteristics, including leadership, marketing, effective business practices, and a spirit of independent thinking. In addition, the students are responsible for the management of the school’s student store, managing product development, purchasing, inventory, sales, and accounting. Approximately 15 students at Forest City participate in the program, which started in the district in 2018.
At Western Wayne High School, our program is based within their Marketing class, where students study the art of promoting businesses, products, and services incorporating market research and advertising. This is an upper level business class, consisting of mostly seniors. Approximately 15 students at Western Wayne participate in the Entrepreneurship Academy; with 2019 marketing the inaugural year for the program in the district.
Entrepreneurship Academy Team & Instructors
Although the CTTC primarily oversees this educational program a strong relationship with both the educational community and the local business community was strengthened to make this course a success. We have received support from the educators, administrators, and Board of Education representing each school district. The support through our local business community can be seen through sessions of the course being taught by representatives from area businesses. Our partners include, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, WIlliam G. McGowen Charitable Fund, NorthEast Pennsylvania Alliance, Dunkin Donuts, the University of Scranton, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders Organization, Adams Cable, the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, Zazzera’s Food Market, Golden Owl Consulting, and NEP Telephone.
John P. Brennan, Entrepreneurship Academy Coordinator
Paul Browne, Carbondale Technology Transfer Center Executive Director
Albert Dyno, Entrepreneurship Academy Assistant Coordinator
2019-2020 Entrepreneurship Academy Sponsor
NEP Telephone was incorporated in 1900 as a local telephone company and today serves Susquehanna, Wayne, and Lackawanna Counties, an area of 525 square miles with over 13,000 homes. In 1998 the company launched their dial-up internet access service, followed by their video service and DSL broadband internet access service in 2000. By 2007 they launched their wireless service which grew to fiber deployment in 2010. We want to thank NEP Telephone, our 2019/2020 Entrepreneurship Academy Program sponsor.
For more information on NEP Telephone please visit their website at: www.nep.net or call 1.866.785.3131.
Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
Funding for the CTTC Entrepreneurship Academy is provided through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. For more information on the program, please visit https://dced.pa.gov/programs/educational-improvement-tax-credit-program-eitc/.