Learning Entrepreneurship in High School

High school students in Boston are getting the chance to learn about the business world while gaining valuable life skills.

"I never knew I was an entrepreneur until I made that first sale," said Luis Santos Ortiz, a senior at Another Course to College in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood.

Students like Santos Ortiz are getting the chance to launch real businesses, make products and compete through BUILD, a four-year college success program that uses entrepreneurship to get kids excited about learning.

"The business I run, currently, is called 'Color Bars,'" said Santos Ortiz.

He makes colored chocolate bars that correspond with their flavors. Through the BUILD program, Santos Ortiz has learned the first step in launching a business is getting the funds to do so.

"First, you have to find an investor," said Santos Ortiz. "If you don't find that investor, BUILD will help you out."

Brady Marshall, a sophomore, said BUILD also connects students with mentors.

"They have us order our resources. They even teach us how to get special connections with certain suppliers," said Marshall. "I just feel like BUILD is an experience like no other."

It's a program for underserved high school students.

"Typically, we're in schools where the graduation rate is below 50 percent and where college matriculation rates are also low," said Ayele Shakur, the regional executive director for BUILD.

Another Course to College is one of six schools in Boston selected to offer BUILD as an elective for all students.

The high school's headmaster Michele Pellam, said the program is making a huge difference. She said 50 percent of freshman are enrolled in BUILD and 100 percent of the debate team and student council are BUILD students.

"They're building the skills that they need to be successful in college as well as in careers," said Pellam.

A major component of the BUILD program is experiential learning, used to learn the benefits of skills like collaboration.

"Collaboration, problem solving, innovation,” said Shakur. "These are skills for life."

The graduation rate at Another Course to College has improved. Last year, Pellam and Shakur said the graduation rate was above 95 percent.

"In build we say entrepreneurship is the hook but college is the goal," said Shakur.

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