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Grant Funds Middle School Entrepreneurship and Business Program

Virtual Enterprises International, a non-profit aiming to create young entrepreneurs and professionals through in-class learning programs, is providing a new learning opportunity for middle school students interested in entrepreneurship and business with its VE Junior Ventures Career Academy according to a recent press release.  

Founded through a four-year grant of $1 million from the New York Life Foundation, the “academy” isn’t a physical place, but rather a classroom program for teachers to utilize. Currently spanning 350 schools across 18 states, Virtual Enterprises International will help brings student into various career roles to create both work-based experience and an understanding of business practices through the program. 

“As we work to close the skills gap in the U.S. workforce through greater innovation in education, it’s critical that our efforts begin from a young age,” said VEI’s executive director Iris Blanc in the release.  “By and large, few opportunities are available to middle school students to engage in learning that connects with their future pathways in the workforce.”

Starting in seventh grade with business projects focusing on the tech sector, early stages of the program focus on diversifying technological student skill sets, including problem solving, financial literacy, public speaking, time management and teamwork amongst others. By eighth grade, students start company simulations that have students meet the real-world demands of a fully functioning business, all while being advised by New York Life employees and others, including high school students enrolled in VEI. 
“We are pleased to support VEI’s program expansion into middle school, which is a critical time for students and a key focus of the New York Life Foundation,” said senior program officer at the Foundation Marlyn Torres in the release.  “Educational research shows that these are make or break years for students in setting their course through high school and into postsecondary pathways.”
Launching in New York City in 2015, the program will launch in two more cities by 2016 and 2018 respectively. Pilot sites include William McKinley IS 259 in Brooklyn, MS 137 America’s School of Heroes in Queens and In-Tech Academy MS/HS 368 in the Bronx. The $1 million is expected to reach around 1,000 students over four years. 

For more, visit here.  

Article by Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor
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