FRANKFORT, Ky. — The commonwealth Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE), a competitive summer program where Kentucky high school students focus on product innovation and business model design, will add a second summer session in 2021 to accommodate increasing demand for the GSE experience.
The first session will be June 6-26 and the second session July 5-24. The selection of 140 high school students will be announced April 16. Plans for an in-person program hosted by Northern Kentucky University are underway.
In addition to gaining entrepreneurial skills to use as they enter the workplace or continue their higher education, GSE alumni have launched more than 16 new businesses. 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 by attending GSE in high school. GSE fosters and empowers the commonwealth’s future business owners and community leaders, giving these teens the support they need to go from high school students to business owners.
In just eight short years, the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs has given about 500 talented teens the entrepreneurial experience of a lifetime,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “This successful program for high school students has come full circle. GSE started under my father, Gov. Steve Beshear, and now it is expanding to a second cohort that will double the number of participants under my administration. Now even more Kentucky students will benefit from the connections and experience this program offers.”
GSE is relatively new on the list of Kentucky’s Governor’s Schools, having opened in 2013. GSE brings students from across the state together for a three-week residential immersion program and teaches the skills to unleash their entrepreneurial spirits for the betterment of Kentucky.
“We see a direct link between improving education and expanding economic development in Kentucky. Programs like GSE blend both together and encourage young students to learn while they innovate,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who is also the secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. “I am so proud of the way our GSE administrators and students fought through the barriers caused by COVID-19 last year. The program is emerging better and stronger than before the pandemic.”
During the program, teams of high school students develop a business model, design a prototype and pitch their startups to 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.
“GSE’s expansion is a milestone for our organization, and for our commonwealth,” says Tasha Sams, executive director of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs. “GSE is an integral part of Kentucky’s growth story. We remain thankful for our many partners who have joined and supported our efforts. Together, we will continue to empower the next generation of young Kentucky entrepreneurs who will create the companies and jobs of the future.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSE will implement health protocols to keep participants safe, and has worked alongside university partner NKU and the Northern Kentucky community on a comprehensive and strategic plan for this summer.
“Expanding opportunities for nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit in high school students throughout the commonwealth is something NKU is proud to support,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “Partnering with GSE is one of the many steps NKU is taking to foster an environment for innovation, and with so many strong collaborators, I have no doubt that Kentucky’s young entrepreneurs will have a truly energizing experience.”
Because of strong partnerships with entities like the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, The Cabinet for Economic Development, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (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. Alumni of GSE gain access to a host of scholarship opportunities, high school class credit, and a statewide network of entrepreneurial support.
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.