RALEIGH – Startup High, an entrepreneurial program designed for teens, will operate with a hybrid model in 2022, and registration for the summer program at each of the 14 host sites across the state is now open.

“While it’s possible to succeed in your career based on knowledge alone, we all realize that “who you know” is critical,” the organization’s website reads.  “Traditional educational systems mainly rely on the transmission of knowledge and struggle to systematically increase a student’s professional network.  Startup High is focused on helping young people build their professional network early in their career.”

In other words, Startup High cofounder Scott Kelly, who is also an instructor at the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business at Campbell University, told WRAL TechWire, “schools are good at sharing knowledge but sometimes fall short in helping teens develop their professional network.”

Yet entrepreneurial ecosystems have the opportunity to play a critical role in the growth and development of younger generations of learners, Kelly noted, and “immerse them in entrepreneurial thinking.”

Kelly founded the program in 2012, running a program in Durham from the coworking community Bull City Forward.

“I’ve seen the power of connecting teens and entrepreneurs,” a note from Kelly reads on the organization’s website.  “Even if young people never start their own business, developing an entrepreneurial mindset will help them in any career they chose. ”

The organization recently won an NC IDEA ENGAGE grant of $5,000 to help bolster the organization’s teachers, who will be hired local to each of the ecosystems and then lead the program, Kelly noted.

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“An economy is only as strong as the connections between entrepreneurs, investors, and service professionals,” the organization’s website reads, noting the academic research from Dr. Ted Zoller at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  “In our experience, the same is true of teens.  If they connect with professionals early, their economic opportunities increase.”

In total, about 250 students could participate, Kelly said, and the program fee is listed on the website at a rate of $250 per student, no matter the geography.

“We as educators spend the majority of our time sharing knowledge and very little time helping students increase their professional network,” said Kelly.  “Despite the fact that we know networks are how careers’ progress and can be a driver of social mobility.”

The program is set to occur at 14 location sites, but could expand to as many as 20.  The sites listed on the website include:

  • Downtown Charlotte
  • South Charlotte
  • Concord
  • Durham
  • North Raleigh
  • Downtown Raleigh
  • Fayetteville
  • High Point
  • Hickory (two sites)
  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Lumberton
  • Downtown Greensboro
  • Hillsborough

The organization does provide scholarships, the website notes.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the organization received an NC IDEA MICRO grant.  The organization received an NC IDEA ENGAGE grant.