Detroit's Next Generation of Entrepreneurs


In an ever-changing, increasingly connected, knowledge-driven world, it is not enough for high school students to be prepared for just college and career. As Dr. Tony Wagner has articulated, we also believe that students must graduate high school “innovation ready.” This means, in short, that wherever a student goes after high school, they will be ready to add value to whatever they do. At VentureSchool, students will become “innovation ready” by developing an entrepreneurial mindset. This will be done by giving every student the opportunity to build a venture (non-profit organization or for-profit company) of their very own from the ground-up. By the time they graduate from, students will not only earn a diploma, but will have the opportunity to walk away with a full-fledged plan and seed funding in-hand to continue to grow and scale their venture. VentureSchool graduates will see the world through a lens of possibilities instead of problems and opportunities instead of obstacles. They will become the next generation of innovators, leaders, and change makers in Detroit.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset has multiple benefits that go well beyond starting and growing a business. John Dearborn outlined several unexpected benefits of entrepreneurial education in a blog post a few years ago that are worth revisiting. Here are some highlights:

  • Higher-level thinking skills: According to Mark Dobeck, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Labor at Cleveland State University, the entrepreneurial process allows individuals to be “better-equipped to deal with ambiguity, exercise creativity, and develop conceptual and critical thinking skills.”

  • Communication skills: Great entrepreneurs are great communicators. To be successful launching a new venture, entrepreneurs must be able to succinctly and effectively articulate their idea and its value to a wide variety of audiences. This is critical for building a team, securing funding, and developing relationships with customers/users.

  • Visualizing success: The entrepreneurial journey is a difficult one, and it requires a significant amount of personal investment. Being able to see the finish line (made easier by learning from the journeys of successful entrepreneurs) demonstrates the power of possibility and serves as inspiration for staying strong through challenging times.

  • Encouraging flexibility: Entrepreneurs are experts at expecting the unexpected because they’re used to navigating the twists and turns that accompany creating something brand new.

Students at VentureSchool will have dedicated time every day to work on their entrepreneurial venture. This work will flow seamlessly into their academic coursework and vice-versa, so concepts mastered in math, science, social studies, and English can be directly applied to students’ development as entrepreneurs. Detroit entrepreneurs, small business owners, and community leaders will play a special role in the VentureSchool experience by serving as mentors for each student. Students will have the opportunity to go beyond the classroom and work with their mentors throughout to gain valuable work experience and learn lessons that can only be taught through practical work in the field.

VentureSchool’s entrepreneurial focus truly makes us unlike any other school in Detroit and around the country. Our next post will discuss the third pillar of VentureSchool’s unique approach: deep community roots. Stay tuned!