Recommendations for Michigan's K-12 Talent Enhancement (Entrepreneurship and STEM) Initiatives
Jeff Croley and myself have worked with the K-12 Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee this summer to assist the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in developing a tool-kit for innovative Michigan K-12 entrepreneurship/Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs. The MEDC has established an asset map (in the process of being created) where the entrepreneurship programs are listed with various information such as the focus of the program, types of comunity partnerships, past and present events/projects, and required resources. This will provide K-12 educators with a valuabe souce of information on how to start and promote similar programs at their respective schools. Additionally, it is the intent of the MEDC to use the asset maps and tool-kit as a means to promote the programs to Michigan based companies for potential partnership opportunities. This will hopefully create mentoring, job shadowing, donations of equipment, tours, presentations, and other types of collaborations between K-12 innovative programs and various companies (an exciting development!).
The following is a list of recommendations from Jeff Croley and myself as requested by the K-12 Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee to be included in the tool-kit and as part of a wider public campaign:
Jeff Croley's recommendations:
1) I would like to take the video idea in another direction as well. Jason and I discussed the possibility of creating a documentary film which captures the story of "Why?" the time in now for entrepreneurial initiatives in schools and communities across the state-- the film would also explore the "How?" aspect in which the state is working to incorporate entrepreneurialism into K-12 education. I have recently finished a feature documentary film and would be willing to discuss the possibility of working on this idea if the MEDC and other interested groups would support it. I have directed and produced two feature films and would enjoy tackling this in order to help make an impact on education and the economic interest of the state. This could touch on numerous success stories from successful Michigan entrepreneurs as well as up and coming and students who have started their own businesses. Narratives could also include words from the Governor, the State Superintendent, and other influential groups such as the MEDC, Prima Civitas, LEAP, SPARK, etc.., and perhaps a few examples from university towns. Although this list may serve as an section of the film I think the primary focus should be on K-12 students who are doing cool and exciting things.
2) Have a team of people of ---perhaps from the K-12 Advisory Board--- who would present at a Superintendent of Schools Conference or Principals Conference. I think letters, emails, and websites are great, however it might be wise to at least try to start with a unique personal presentation followed by discussions about how an entrepreneurial culture can grow in a K-12 setting. The team could also present in different regions across the state and participate in "town forums" as Jason suggested. Jason and I have been part of these conversations in the past and the "bring it to the people" idea works. A personal touch goes a long way. People embrace the sincerity of delivering a message in person. They appreciate the energy and enthusiasm and are willing to ignite in discussions and calls to action as a direct result of being in the moment.
3) Distribute shirts which may be used to unite people who believe change is needed. They could serve as conversation starters to educate people about what it is we are trying to do. Jason and I have designed a t-shirt that reads "Be the Solution" (on the front) and "!00% committed to be the one who makes a difference. Get Started." (on the back) The DCG has used these shirts in the past at numerous events and they have been well received by many in both the education and business sector. The shirts may be a simple idea but they embrace the entrepreneurial spirit as they define the beliefs of those who wear it and challenge those who read it. (Actually Governor Snyder referred to our shirts on numerous occasions during his speech at the Great Lakes International Trade and Transportation Hub Summit and said "Everyone in the state of Michigan needs one of those"---) The shirt could be used as a simple way to unite people who understand there is a dire need to shift the culture of education. If young people could learn to "be their own solution" and feel supported in doing so, then changing the mindset would not seem such a daunting task after all.
4) Contact a group called ASHOKA -Innovators for the Public which has groups in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South America, and North America (which is based in Arlington, VA) It might be interesting to contact them and see about getting support, share ideas, networks, etc.., -- This group is worth looking at and may provide some useful information as we continue to brainstorm ways to build a entrepreneurial culture in K-12 as well as other areas. The DeWitt Creativity Group will be sending our information to them and could look to see if they have ways in which they could assist the Advisory Board to help spread the message of creating social entrepreneurs throughout the state.
1. A multifunctional Web site that is divided into state regions where educators can access information about other like-minded groups, share ideas with others; learn about relevant events, organizations for possible partnerships (private and public sectors), and grant opportunities. Additionally, the Web site should feature either weekly or monthly profiles of groups and their work.
2. An annual regional and/or state conference(s) to promote and highlight innovative entrepreneurial, scientific, and artistic K-12 programs such as the Creative Educators Summit (please see: www.dewittcreativitygroup.org for more information). The Creative Educators Summit has been held in different sites throughout the Lansing area from 2010-12. LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership) has partnered with the DeWitt Creativity Group, Prima Civitas Foundation, Dean Transportation, Michigan Virtual University, and msuENet to hold this event. Perhaps similar showcases can be held in places throughout the state of Michigan. Regional economic development corporations can partner with school districts, foundations, businesses, community colleges and universities in order to provide a platform such as this for youth innovation.
3. A monthly series of videos that document the on-going creation of a vibrant K-12 culture of entrepreneuralism. These videos can be placed on relevant sites and YouTube. Footage can focus on meetings,events, and programs at the state and local levels. Politicians, economic developers, parents, teachers, students, business owners, professors, and many others should give their impressions of local/state initiatives at creating the mind shift we discussed during today's meeting. As a result of this series, a campaign can be built around it to recruit and mobilize support throughout Michigan. People will love a narrative or story about how the state of Michigan and other stakeholders are working together to change the culture. A tour that features profiled individuals in the series of videos could travel throughout the state to participate in forums or town hall meetings on germane topics.