July 23, 2020

The Appalachian Entrepreneurship Education Continuum

North America
Knowledge Partner
Description of the core change(s) brought by this policy instrument

Seven community colleges in the Appalachian region joined to form an Entrepreneurship Education Continuum, which has two major components:

1) Embedding entrepreneurship into existing lesson plans for K-12 students. 

This first part, based on EntreEd’s America’s Entrepreneurial School program “Every Student Every Year” with guidance from The EdVenture Group, helps participating K-12 schools deliver entrepreneurship education to every student in the school by taking existing lessons and putting them into the context of entrepreneurship lessons (e.g. science teachers may conduct a class on Thomas Edison or George Washington Carver as scientists AND entrepreneurs). 

Schools that successfully complete the program are awarded EntreEd’s prestigious “America’s Entrepreneurial School” designation, recognizing the schools and their teachers for their commitment to entrepreneurship.

2) Connecting the community colleges with local K-12 schools.

For this purpose, the Education Continuum partners with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, linking the seven community colleges with participating K-12 schools to conduct workshops, programs and events highlighting entrepreneurship opportunities for the students and community. 

This component is designed to leverage community college's access to expertise, equipment, and resources, which them ideal locations to help spur entrepreneurial and innovation thinking, and serve as new business incubators.

Please list the implementing agencies

The community colleges include:

Grants to these colleges have come from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation

Lifecycle of target firms for this policy instrument
Start-up firms
Support offered
Non-financial Support
Level of intervention
Barrier(s) addressed with this policy tool
Policy timeline

2017: A group of seven dedicated community colleges convened in Charleston, West Virginia to collaborate on changing the course of entrepreneurship education in distressed, coal-impacted counties throughout the Appalachian region.

Stated goal/metrics of the policy instrument

These community colleges are collaborating to create an entrepreneurship education continuum by establishing and strengthening relationships between kindergarten through 12th grade students and their local community colleges via entrepreneurship education.

Challenges, criticisms and lessons

This model has been highlighted by Start Us Up Coalition as a way to pave the way for workforce development by helping states develop entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses.

    Notes and additional context

    One of the recommendations which the Start Us Up Coalition included in America's New Business Plan is for the U.S. federal government "to ensure that a strong current of entrepreneurial talent is continuously emerging in the United States, policies must jumpstart the stagnant rate of new entrepreneurs, grow the next generation of business owners, and develop employees with entrepreneurial capabilities."

    To do this, the Coalition recommends that policymakers:

    • Embed entrepreneurial know-how and spirit in classrooms throughout America by creating opportunities for students to explore and acquire the habits of mind, behaviors, skills, knowledge, and competencies that equip them to be entrepreneurial – whether by creating businesses themselves or by making contributions as employees and community members.
    • Provide students with real world learning experiences through project-based learning, client-based projects, and internships.
    • Give students opportunities to explore design thinking and prototyping, problem-solving and communications, as well as ensuring all students are leaving high school with basic financial literacy skills.
    • Examine how state agencies can better collaborate, collect appropriate data, provide curriculum and credit flexibility, and allow for alternative teacher certification pathways.
    • Monitor state funding formula implications that will support or incentivize real world learning within districts.
    • Ensure local entities work closely with employers, especially new businesses, on alignment of curriculum to workforce needs in order to ensure equity of access to employer-based learning opportunities.

    Supporting Evidence:

    • Research has shown that with appropriate course content, entrepreneurial education and training in K-16 is linked to positive business outcomes (Grace Khoury, “Does Entrepreneurship Education Have a Role in developing Entrepreneurial Skills And Ventures’ Effectiveness?” Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, January 2012).
    • A meta-analysis found a significant relationship between entrepreneurship education and training and corresponding entrepreneurship outcomes (Bruce C. Marin, Jeffrey J. McNally, and Michael J. Kay, “Examining the Formation of Human Capital in Entrepreneurship: A Meta-Analysis of Entrepreneurship Education Outcomes,” Journal of Business Venturing vol. 28, no. 2 - March 2013: 211-224).
    Geographic scope