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Phoenix-area charter high schools launch student entrepreneur initiative

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

PHOENIX — Students who want to be entrepreneurs and start a business can now begin their path through a new program at Phoenix-area charter schools.

The program is called Youth Entrepreneurs. It is an elective program that is being offered at 15 charter high schools. The goal is to give students the economic and creative risk-taking skills needed to become a young entrepreneur.

“When [students] have this mind-opening idea that they can create their own destiny and their own freedom, it’s really liberating and allows for students to do great things,” Kylie Stupka, president of Youth Entrepreneurs Foundation, the organization that is launching the program in Arizona, said.

Stupka said of the program’s 15,000 high school graduates, about 22 percent end up starting a business.

In the program, students have the opportunity to develop a business plan and market a product to classmates.

“We have a significant amount of students that have gone from the street selling drugs to [being] gainfully employed [and] raising their families,” Stupka said.

She said graduation rates are high for those who take part in the youth entrepreneur program. She said students in the program understand why other classes, such as math and English, are relevant when they start a business.

“One day, you’re going to have to know how all those come together, whether you’re creating a business or working in some area of a business,” Stupka said.

The program is already offered in other states, such as Kansas, Missouri and Georgia. Schools in Casa Grande and Tucson also offer the program.