iCenter teams up to offer Simulated Workplace Entrepreneurship Pathway to high school students

Marshall University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (iCenter), part of the Lewis College of Business, recently hosted its partners from the EdVenture Group, the West Virginia Department of Education, and the West Virginia University John Chambers College of Business and Economics to kick off the Simulated Workplace Entrepreneurship Pathway, which will be piloted this fall.

The Entrepreneurship Pathway will deliver an experiential entrepreneurship curriculum framework for West Virginia Career and Technical Education (CTE) students. It is a four-course sequence that will provide theoretical and practical instruction and experience in developing and enriching entrepreneurship skills.

The project will pilot its Introduction to Entrepreneurship, or ESHIP 1, course in four locations during the fall semester: Mingo Central High School, Randolph County Technical Center, Spring Valley High School and Wheeling Park High School. The course aims to help students develop and apply entrepreneurial mindsets and learn problem identification, framing and design thinking.

As part of the kickoff last month, the pilot school teachers and design team virtually participated in a Design for Delight (D4D) Innovation Catalyst Educators training, delivered by Intuit’s Corporate Social Responsibility team. D4D, Intuit’s approach to design thinking, will be a core piece of the ESHIP 1 curriculum to support the creation of innovative, customer-centric businesses.

“I had the opportunity to coach the education leaders of West Virginia in a design thinking method from Intuit called Design for Delight” said Nico Valencia, Intuit’s head of innovation. “Throughout the course of a week, I was continually wowed with how these educators were able to take the concepts of human-centered design (empathy, ideation, and experimentation) and apply them to important unsolved student problems. I am eagerly standing by to see the innovations and disruptions these leaders will bring to West Virginia education this coming year.”

This work is part of the Simulated Workplace Entrepreneurship Education Pathway (SWEEP) program and is funded by a POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

“This professional development session is a shining example of what we can do when we work together,” said Dr. Ben Eng, iCenter executive director and associate professor of marketing and entrepreneurship in the Lewis College of Business, Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. “With our friends from the West Virginia Department of Education, EdVenture, West Virginia University and Intuit, I’m excited and confident that our CTE students will create innovative businesses that will transform the future of our state.”

West Virginia University is thrilled to be a partner “to help infuse the entrepreneurial mindset into CTE students across the state. Instilling these types of skills will be crucial in building a strong and diverse economy in West Virginia for the future,” said Tara St. Clair, director of operations, Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“The launch of the state’s first policy-based entrepreneurship pathway for West Virginia youth will significantly benefit our local communities,” said Amber Ravenscroft, manager of innovation at The EdVenture Group, Inc. “We are thankful for the partnership between our team at the EdVenture Group, Marshall University, the West Virginia Department of Education and West Virginia University to be driving this unprecedented effort. Most importantly, we want to recognize our pilot educators and schools as an incredible group of innovators and educational champions – we cannot wait to see the impact they have on our students.”

These types of educational entrepreneurship opportunities are a “game-changer, not only for the students of West Virginia, but for the economic growth of the state,” said Clinton Burch, senior officer of Technical and Adult Education at the West Virginia Department of Education.  “I believe this joint effort is capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of all West Virginians.”

For more information about the iCenter at Marshall University, visit https://www.muicenter.com. For more information about the variety of business-related academic programs at Marshall, visit https://www.marshall.edu/cob/.

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Photo: Representatives of Marshall University and other participants in the Simulated Workplace Entrepreneurship Pathway, who are working to pilot the pathway program for high school students in career and technical education this fall.