Aspiring entrepreneurs in high school can now get a head start on earning university credits

Jun 28, 2019

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This collaborative initiative is a Canadian first that gives university credit to students taking an entrepreneurship program as part of their high school education.

Youth Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad (YELL) Canada has teamed up with Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship (CIE) to develop and deliver a unique initiative for aspiring entrepreneurs in high school looking to get a head start with their SFU education. Students graduating from YELL with a B or higher will receive high school credit and are eligible to apply for SFU university credit.

This collaborative initiative is a Canadian first that gives university credit to students taking an entrepreneurship program as part of their high school education.

While there are advanced placement options for more traditional subjects like math and science which can also be counted towards university credit, there aren’t many options for programs that cultivate entrepreneurship skills and mindset development in high school.

“For a future that requires an entrepreneurial mindset that is increasingly adaptable, confident, collaborative, creative and resourceful, we have a moral obligation to make it attractive for young leaders and changemakers to pursue this type of education,” says Sarah Lubik, the Chang Institute’s executive director. “Universities need to show how entrepreneurial skills are incredibly valuable across all disciplines, so Beedie and CIE, along with all our partner faculties, are stepping up. YELL’s university-quality, community-engaged curriculum made them an ideal partner.”

Starting in fall 2019, YELL graduates entering any faculty at SFU will be able to apply for these credits. They will also be enrolled in the Charles Chang Certificate in Entrepreneurship program—the only Canadian university entrepreneurship program delivered collaboratively by and for all faculties across its university, immediately welcoming them into the SFU student entrepreneur community.

For the last two years, YELL and the CIE have been working together to track the impact the program has had on entrepreneurial mindset development in high school students as well as how ready they feel for future opportunities. The results unveiled a substantial increase in both.

“It’s amazing to think that students as young as high school can start getting involved with SFU’s entrepreneurship program” commented Javed Gill, a YELL alumnus who is starting classes at SFU Beedie in September. “Having that foot in the door can really excel our learning.”

As a charity founded by local entrepreneurs, YELL currently operates in eight B.C. school districts that works with Entrepreneurship 12 teachers in the public school system to deliver rigorous, hands-on curriculum developed with input from universities. Students have access to resources like mentors, class visits from local guest speakers, gain experience pitching to potential investors, and much more.

“This initiative between YELL and SFU sends a powerful message to young students about the importance of entrepreneurial skills regardless of the discipline they decide to go into,” says Chris Kennedy, superintendent of schools and CEO at the West Vancouver School district.

This initiative is the next step in an ongoing collaboration between SFU Beedie, the Chang Institute and YELL. In addition to collaborative mindset research, SFU has hosted YELL regional and final events for hundreds of YELL students over the last four years as well as invited YELL students to participate as junior innovators in CIE Beedie’s annual OppFest entrepreneurial showcase at SFU’s Surrey campus.

“SFU’s recognition of programs like ours, that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit, validates what we have been saying to our students and what our community has been saying to our schools about developing an engaging experience for our students so that they are prepared to innovate and creatively solve problems in our ever changing world,” says Rattan Bagga, interim executive director of YELL. “Entrepreneurial thinking and education is a fundamental skill to have in today’s business environment.  Entrepreneurship is not just about creating businesses, it is a way of thinking.”