Entrepreneurship for Gifted, Low-Income Students
Make learning relevant. That’s one of the battle cries of American education today. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)
makes education relevant by helping young people from low-income communities build skills and unlock their creativity while emphasizing individuality, initiative, and community. The organization partners with schools and community-based organizations to link the educational and business worlds in the classroom and beyond. NFTE currently has programs in 21 states and 12 countries.This is one of many avenues that has the potential to encourage and allow underprivileged students to demonstrate their otherwise undiscovered gifts.
NFTE was founded in 1987 by Steve Mariotti (a former business executive and entrepreneur) while he was a public high school teacher in New York City’s South Bronx. Mariotti discovered that when low-income youth are given the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, their innate “street smarts” easily develop into “academic smarts” and “business smarts.” Through entrepreneurship, youth discover that what they are learning in the classroom is relevant to the real world.
NFTE’s programs teach entrepreneurship using a curriculum, which can be purchased. There are versions for both middle school and high school. The curriculum may be used in a semester- or year-long entrepreneurship course, integrated into an existing course, or used for an after-school program.
Students learn business concepts, practice skills such as negotiation and pricing, and work on plans for their own individual businesses. Business plan competitions are held at local, regional, and national levels. Winning students at the national level receive a trip to the annual awards dinner in New York City and a grant to apply toward their business or college expenses.
BizCamp is a 2-week, intensive entrepreneurship summer program for students, ages 13-18. The day camp includes field trips and guest speakers focused on providing students with a solid understanding of business. At the end of the camp, students compete for cash awards to fund their businesses.
At the NFTE website, you can find information about the organization’s locations and licensed partners. You also can find out how to become involved with the organization or how to start one in your area.
Parents and Teachers—Get the Most Out of a Gifted Summer Conference
Attending a conference is always a good way for parents and educators to learn about gifted education, network with others who share similar interests and concerns, and find out about curricula, materials, and effective teaching techniques at home and at school. Because summer is often a less hurried time of year, it may be an especially good time to go to one of these events. You can learn about upcoming opportunities at:
Once you decide on a conference to attend, plan your conference well so that you will maximize the benefits that you reap.
If possible, choose sessions ahead of time and have alternatives ready in case a session is full. If a session does not meet your needs, leave immediately and go to one of your alternative choices.
Write down the questions that you’d like to ask or goals that you’d like to accomplish. During sessions, ask general questions that will benefit everyone. Save questions that are specific to you for a time when you can speak to someone one-on-one.
Print personal “business” cards. You may find that you want to exchange contact information with others that you meet.
Wear a nametag so that people can more easily approach you. Look at other people’s nametags and start conversations with them. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to speakers and vendors, as well as attendees. You never know who you’ll meet and how they might be helpful to you. Here are a few opening lines:
Be sure to visit the vendors. You may learn about new programs, curricula, and ideas. There also may be prize drawings or freebies.
Once you get home, follow through on contacting people you said you would contact, and check out those interesting products, services, and websites that you learned about. Share the information you learned with other parents or teachers.
Helping Underserved Gifted Students Grow
I recently was privy to a conversation that some well educated and well-to-do parents had about their two high school children who were trying to gain admission to several highly selective colleges. Their students had high grades, high test scores, were active in many extracurricular activities, came from privileged backgrounds, and had parents who had actively supported their years in school. Despite all of this, the parents still felt that it was necessary to hire a college coach to guide them through the process of admission. I couldn’t help but think about how extremely difficult it must be to come from a family who doesn’t know all the ins and outs of choosing and getting into a good college.
Too few bright young people from underrepresented groups, particularly those from lower-income families, receive the support and preparation they need to be highly qualified applicants for selective colleges. The Next Generation Venture Fund (NGVF)
is working to change that by offering financial help and academic resources to qualified students, beginning in eighth grade and continuing throughout high school.
NGVF is a joint venture of:
In addition, The Goldman Sachs Foundation
and other companies, foundations, and individuals provide financial support for the venture. An investment of approximately $22,000 is made in each student, providing a five-year program consisting of:
individualized education planning and counseling;
advanced and college-level courses focusing on analytical, quantitative, writing, and reasoning skills;
summer school programs on a participating college campus;
a peer network of talented students to foster a culture of achievement; and
career and leadership development programs to "encourage aspirations."
The nation’s three major university-based Talent Searches at Duke, Northwestern, and Johns Hopkins and the Center for Bright Kids in Colorado recruit eighth graders from schools across the United States based on high test scores, financial need, and motivation to succeed. Region-based contact information is provided
so that you will know what institution to contact for your area of the country.
Parents and teachers should be aware of this program so that they can make certain that their schools are participating in the talent search.
TONI-4: Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, 4th ed., Available in May
Let me give a quick notification to any gifted education coordinators, school counselors, or district-level diagnosticians involved with gifted child identification.
If you are currently using the TONI-3 as a part of your school's gifted child identification processes, please note that the TONI-4: Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, 4th ed., will be released in mid-May. The TONI-4 is a completely revised instrument and will replace the older version of the test.
The TONI-3 is no longer available, but we will be shipping the TONI-4 in just a few weeks.
Kudos for My Book and Blog
Patti Ghezzi wrote an article titled, Help Your Gifted Child Succeed in School,
for the online magazine School Family.com
. The article referred extensively to Raising a Gifted Child
and provided advice from the book.
The goal of both this blog and my book, Raising a Gifted Child, is to provide teachers and parents with a wide variety of options for working with gifted kids. Both are filled with tips, ideas, and resources for every topic imaginable associated with gifted education.
Prufrock’s Gifted Child Information Blog has been in existence since March 2005. That’s five years of weekly entries, totaling approximately 260 offerings. A search function is available at the website, making it easy for you to search for topics of personal interest. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, e-mail me (an e-mail link is provided at the bottom of my biography) and make a request.
Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook is a compilation of the first three years of this blog, organized by topic and sprinkled with real stories of gifted kids and their families. Perhaps the most useful part of the book is the chapter on specific subjects. This is the place to turn if you have a child who has a high aptitude or passion for a subject. For instance, if your student is especially good at math, you will find a number of suggestions for teaching methods, distance learning, supplementary materials, and competitions.
Hopefully, all of these resources will help to support the very bright children with whom you live or work. There is so much out there, but it’s difficult to find the time to search these resources out. I hope that you will let me do some of the work for you. Tell me what you need and I will do my best to find it for you.
More Online Learning for Gifted Students
Teachers and parents alike often turn to online learning options in order to supplement and/or accelerate gifted students' learning. Does your young person have a strong interest and ability in mathematics, physics, computer programming, literature, writing, history, or foreign language? Does she want to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes that are not offered at her local high school? Or, does your student need a flexible schedule because of family circumstances, work responsibilities, or health issues?
Are you in a school district where your young person’s needs and abilities surpass the available curriculum? Do you homeschool your child, either full-time or part-time, and, as a result, need solid educational resources? Or, do you have a student who doesn't necessarily want to earn credit for extracurricular classes, but instead just wants to expose himself to different topics in order to see if any really interest him? If so, then you may want to introduce your student to the wide range of opportunities available through online learning.
For years, I have been writing about the virtues of distance learning for gifted kids. Over the past few years, the distance learning field has continued to expand. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, many distance learning programs are beginning to use not only computers for their programs, but also everyday technologies, such as cell phones.
Kids are often more comfortable with these technologies than adults. This may be one reason why traditional schools are often unable to adjust to and incorporate these new technologies into the traditional classroom. Adults (both parents and teachers) sometimes lack the expertise that young people have already learned at an early age and use every day. Perhaps it is time for adults to stop fighting these new developments and, instead, embrace them and incorporate them into student learning. Online learning is one good way to start.
If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities available to gifted kids, there is a great deal of information available at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development website and at the Distance Learning Programs page of Hoagies’ Gifted Education website.