Our city has a wealth of education advocates and organizations that offer programs for youth. We’re one of the first places in the country to implement a city-wide “Say Yes” program, which helps to eliminate the financial barriers that make college an unattainable dream. But even with easier access to education beyond high school, what makes students want to continue their education? With all of the efforts within our city, it must be noted that every year 1.3 million young people drop out of high school. This is particularly relevant here, as the average four year graduation rate for all New York public schools is 74%, while the Syracuse’s City School District’s has a 52% graduation rate. This educational void hurts communities, making it difficult for individuals to find meaningful employment and creates the need for adult education and workforce training programs.
An organization founded in California is using a familiar driving force to motivate low-income youth to continue their education with the allure of entrepreneurship. BUILD now has satellites in D.C., the Bay Area, and Boston, taking at-risk and vulnerable students into their entrepreneurial training program. This program enrolls students into a credited course that prepares them for the rigors of entrepreneurship. Students, who were once contemplating dropping out of school or had little interest in academics, can now appreciate how learning is a vital component to personal growth. BUILD’s curriculum is designed to guide students through a multi-year program, which culminates during the student’s senior year. Most BUILD graduates go on to college to realize their ambitions. Just as the appeal of entrepreneurship can inspire students, these aspiring entrepreneurs will the skills and potential to give back and affect their own communities.