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Governor's School for Entrepreneurs Applications Open
Kentucky Ag Connection - 11/19/2020

The Governor's School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), a residential summer program where Kentucky teens focus on product innovation and business model design, has opened applications for its summer 2021 program. The 2021 GSE session will take place June 6 through June 26, 2021, at Northern Kentucky University. Students currently in 9th, 10th and 11th grade can apply at www.KentuckyGSE.com.

Applications are due by Jan. 25, 2021, and selections will be announced in April 2021. Students who attend GSE can earn high school class credits, scholarships to Kentucky colleges and universities and receive access to the tools necessary to start their own businesses.

"I'm very proud that Kentucky is one of only a handful of states that have a Governor's School for Entrepreneurs. In fact, we led the way when we established the first program of its kind in 2013, and we have helped other states start their own programs," said Gov. Andy Beshear. "So I hope our high school students will apply for this unique summer residential program that teaches them how to take their product or service idea from a thought to reality in three weeks and then pitch their idea to a panel of judges."

In the last seven years, about 500 students from across Kentucky have participated in the program.

"As a teacher, GSE is really exciting to me because it channels students' curiosity and creativity and challenges them to expand their talents by learning from successful entrepreneurs who do this for a living. They're also exposed to living on a university campus where they work with other students in teams to accomplish a goal," said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is also the secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, a partner in GSE.

During the program, teams of high school students develop a business model, design a prototype and pitch their startup to a large audience and a panel of judges. GSE teaches the opportunities, benefits and pitfalls of taking a business concept from the idea phase to pitching it to potential investors.

Louis Lin, an entrepreneur from Georgetown, was one of 72 students who went through the GSE in 2020.

"GSE has changed me and my outlook on life completely. I've learned how to get out of my comfort zone in order to meet new people, learn new things and grow. I never expected to be able to create my own business, as I always thought it would be too much for me. However, I've realized that I have that capability and I believe everyone can grasp that capability at GSE," said Lin.

While all participants gain vital entrepreneurial skills through the program to use as they enter the workplace or continue into higher education, more than 12 new businesses already have been launched by GSE alumni. Others have filed for multiple patents and developed new ideas and relationships that sow the seeds for more business formation.

Dozens of alumni have chosen to enroll in entrepreneurial programs at Kentucky universities and attribute this decision to the inspiration they received attending GSE in high school.

"We encourage all 9th, 10th, and 11th grade teens to apply for GSE. At GSE, they'll learn how to be courageous, to take risks with their ideas, to embrace diverse thinking, to work collaboratively and to creatively solve problems," said Natasha Sams, GSE's executive director. "Our teens walk away with the confidence and know-how to start a business, as well as an entrepreneurial mindset that will serve them throughout their lives. They'll never be 'stuck' if they can create a solution, forge a new path or reinvent themselves to adapt to any set of circumstances life might throw at them."

While building a startup, students will tour numerous businesses and learn from a broad range of successful and active entrepreneurs. Students create fully realized business materials and prototypes, and confidently deliver sophisticated pitches by the end of the program. Businesses from across the state welcome the young entrepreneurs and share trials, tribulations and successes in candid conversations, while allowing unparalleled access to the inner workings of their businesses. The challenging program encourages risk taking and addresses failure as a positive lesson on the path to success.

Parents, educators, entrepreneurs and teens who believe grit, a growth mindset and creativity in problem-solving tell as much about a young person as good grades and test scores can learn more about the Governor's School of Entrepreneurs at www.KentuckyGSE.com. Because of strong partnerships with entities like the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development, TMMK, and numerous public and private supporters, like the Marksbury Family Foundation and Nate Morris of Rubicon Global, GSE is completely free for selected entrepreneurs.

GSE is planning for a return to in-person instruction in 2021 after going virtual in 2020 to protect students, educators and staffers during the coronavirus pandemic.


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