Citation
Youth business development project

Material Information

Title:
Youth business development project assessing how entrepreneurship training affects at-risk youths' academic achievement
Creator:
Shelton, Charlene
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 56 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Sociology, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Sociology
Committee Chair:
Fomby, Paula
Committee Members:
Argys, Laura
Duran-Aydintug, Candan

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Entrepreneurship -- Study and teaching -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Problem youth -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Small business -- Management -- Study and teaching -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Entrepreneurship -- Study and teaching ( fast )
Problem youth ( fast )
Small business -- Management -- Study and teaching ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 53-56).
General Note:
Department of Sociology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Charlene Shelton.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
672293630 ( OCLC )
ocn672293630
Classification:
LD1193.L66 2010m S44 ( lcc )

Full Text
YOUTH BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: ASSESSING HOW
ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING AFFECTS AT-RISK YOUTHS
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
by
Charlene Shelton
B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2007
M.P.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2009
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Sociology
2010


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Charlene Shelton
has been approved
by


Shelton, Charlene (M. A. Department of Sociology)
Youth Business Development Project: Assessing How Entrepreneurship Training
Affects At-Risk Youths Academic Achievement
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
ABSTRACT
The Youth Business Development Project was conceived by the author as
a way to help at-risk high school students become more engaged in their academic
pursuits through a real world learning experience starting their own businesses.
Nine students from Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in Denver, Colorado
were randomly selected from those students whose grade point average was 2.5 or
below. The students participated in a five-month long after-school program that
included instruction on entrepreneurship along with mentoring by local business
people. The students grades and attendance were tracked throughout the
academic year. They also engaged in pre and post semi-structured interviews to
gauge their perceptions of the relevance of their education and their assessment of
whether they had become better students as a result of participation in the
program. They were administered pre and post self-efficacy tests to assess any
change as a result of their participation in the program.
The results showed that 78 percent of the students were very likely or
likely to start their own businesses in the future. Sixty-three percent reported that
their perception of their education had changed and that they now saw their
education as more useful than before their participation in the program. On
average, self-efficacy scores increased by the end of the program, but the
students grades did not.
While all of the students chose a business that they wanted to start, they
had difficulty committing to the work that was assigned, as well as doing some of
the tasks in the class. Their poor academic background coupled with a history of
not completing homework and a large number of absences contributed to their
lack of success at starting their own businesses. In the end, the students


recognized that starting a business is hard work and they articulated an
understanding of furthering their education.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my husband, Lucien, whose support made it all possible. I
also dedicate this to my friend Patty who insisted that I return to school.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My thanks to my advisor, Candan Duran-Aydintug, for her support and friendship
throughout this process. I also wish to thank the members of my committee for
their participation and insights. My thanks to the Lowenstem Family Foundation
and to Vivian Langton for their generous financial support of this project. Thanks
also to the Young Americans Center for Financial Education for permission to use
their wonderful entrepreneurship curriculum. Finally, I wish to thank the staff of
Martin Luther King Jr. Early College for their support and assistance.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Tables ......................................................x
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..............................................1
Social Problem.........................................2
2 HOW YBDP ADDRESSES THE PROBLEM.............................5
Mentors................................................7
Differentiation........................................7
3. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..................................9
Social Disengagement and Dropping Out.................10
Research-Theory Link..................................12
Research Questions....................................14
Hypotheses............................................14
4. METHODS..................................................15
Focus Groups Phase....................................15
Focus Groups Sample .............................16
Focus Group Procedure ..........................16
Study Phase ..........................................16
Study Design and Intervention...................17
vii


Study Group Sample ..........................18
Instruments .................................19
4. FINDINGS..............................................21
Focus Group Findings ..............................21
Study Group Findings ..............................24
Discussion ........................................26
5. CONCLUSION ...........................................30
Policy Implications ...............................31
Strengths and Limitations .........................31
Ethics ............................................32
Suggestions for Further Study......................32
APPENDIX
A. GENERAL SELF-EFFICACY SCALE...........................33
B. FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS ................................34
C. PRE/POST-PROGRAM INTERVIEW QUESTIONS..................35
D. DROPOUT RATES 1972-2005 ..............................37
E. EDUCATION PAYS........................................38
F. CONSENT FORMS ........................................39
Parent Consent for Focus Groups ...................39
viii


Parent Consent for Study Group...............42
Teacher Consent Form .......................47
G CURRICULUM MODELS...............................50
H RELATED ORGANIZATIONS ..........................51
BIBLIOGRAPHY...........................................53
ix


LIST OF TABLES
Tables
3.1 Demographics of MLKJEC..............................................18
D. 1. Dropout rates 1972 2005 .......................................34
E. l. Education Pays....................................................35
x


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
In this study, the Youth Business Development Project (YBDP) was designed
to assess whether entrepreneurship training would help high school students with
poor academic performance increase their engagement in school by providing them
with a real-life learning experience. By developing a business of their choice,
students had the opportunity to use what they had learned in the classroom to create a
plan for their new business. Volunteer mentors helped the students flesh out their
ideas into more concrete forms. The students engagement in school, their grades,
and their self-efficacy changes were then tracked throughout the academic year. This
project was rolled out in two phases; phase one was a needs assessment, phase two
was the implementation of the project.
Phase one consisted of focus groups of high school students who met the
criterion for inclusion in the study low grade point average. I convened focus
groups of high school students who were at-risk1 of not graduating from Martin
Luther King Jr. Early College, an urban 6th through 12th grade school in the Denver
Public Schools District, to determine their interest in starting and running their own
businesses. The students were asked to discuss the impacts that being a business
owner might have on their current lives, their education, and their futures. In the
context of the current economic recession, students were asked to try to gauge
whether business ownership could be an alternative to the typical types of jobs that
adolescents usually get.
Overall, the students responded that they were interested in starting their own
businesses during high school. Their understanding of business ownership was
simplistic, albeit somewhat accurate. They knew that there is financial risk and that
business ownership requires more than just standing behind a counter and taking
money from customers. The students all felt that having mentors helping them would
be valuable if the mentors met certain criteria that they deemed important such as a
mentor who they believed understands them and someone who could teach them
something. Students did not see their formal education as relevant to their lives,
although they thought that some subjects are probably worth studying. Based on the
results of the focus group findings, I, as the principal researcher, concluded that this
project would be valuable to students who do not perceive relevance in their formal
1 For the purposes of this study, at-risk was defined as students whose cumulative grade point average was 2.5
or less. Income was not taken into account since the demographics of the school show an over 80% free and
reduced lunch population.
1


education; who want to earn money; and who may want to further their education, but
do not know the breadth of programs that are available to them.
In phase two students worked with mentors to develop a business of their own
for 20 weeks. Through the use of a specific curriculum designed by the Young
Americans Center for Financial Education to teach young people how to develop a
business, students were given the opportunity to produce a fundable business plan.
The curriculum consisted of eight module/workbooks that presented information on
all aspects of building a business plan. The information was scaffolded and
culminated in a business plan module that students used to write their actual plan.
Mentors assisted students with many aspects of their business ideas, including
business structure, product development, and financial projections.
Finally, I evaluated the effectiveness of the intervention on the students
academic performance, self-efficacy, and school engagement. The results showed
that 78 percent of the students were interested in being business owners in the future.
Most students also reported that their perception of their education had changed as a
result of participating the program. The students grade point average (GPA) did not
improve overall. However, their self-efficacy scores and their attendance increased.
This paper covers the research-theory links, project goals, research questions,
the methods used to obtain these data, analysis of the data, findings, strengths and
weaknesses of the project, ethics, and conclusions.
Social Problem
Low-income and minority students graduate from U S. high schools at a much
lower rate than do students from affluent, white families2 (Anderson and Keith 1997;
Ogle and Alsalam 1990; Koretz and 1 louts 1986). These students are often referred
to as at-risk because their socio-economic status, along with their historically
disadvantaged position as minorities lead to a disproportionately lower graduation
rate (Fischer and Kmec 2004; Koretz and Houts 1986; Ogle and Alsalam 1990;
Anderson and Keith 1997) compared to their white peers. A report by the Urban
Institute (2001) shows that,
Students from historically disadvantaged minority groups (American
Indian, Hispanic, Black) have little more than a fifty-fifty chance of
finishing high school with a diploma. Males graduate from high
school at a rate 8 percent lower than female students, (and) graduation
rates for students who attend school in high poverty, racially
2 See Appendix D
2


segregated, and urban school districts lag from 15 to 18 percent behind
their peers.
While the average graduation rate for all groups in the United States is 68.8 percent
(Mortenson 2009), a mere 52.7 percent of Denver Public School students graduate on
time (Meyer 2009). The National Center for Education Statistics (2005) revealed that
one in four Hispanic and one in ten black American students drop out of school.
One result of low educational attainment is a decreased earnings potential
(Bureau of Labor Statistics 2008). Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said, "There's just
no place to enter the work force in a meaningful way for a high school dropout,
adding, The incarceration rate is 70 percent higher for the 1 lth-grader who drops
out (compared to those who graduate) (Haythom 2008). In contrast, an increase in
knowledge, educational attainment, and skills lead to higher paying jobs (Bureau of
Labor Statistics, 2008).
Youth from low socio-economic status (SES) families growing up in the inner
city often stay within their social class and do not graduate from high school (Bureau
of Labor Statistics, 2008). This lack of an adequate education often leads to low-
paying jobs3, increased unemployment, and a reproduction of the low socioeconomic
status to which they are accustomed (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008).
Meanwhile, the United States is facing an economic crisis and decreasing
relevance in the global economy concurrent with some of the lowest national
standards for student achievement in U S. history. The U S. ranked twenty-fifth in
the world for mathematics literacy among 15-year-olds out of students from 30
countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
in 2007 (College Board 2009). The U.S. also ranks twentieth among 28 OECD
nations for high school graduation (College Board 2009). In a speech to Congress
recently, President Obama said, This is a prescription for economic decline, because
we know the countries that out-teach us today will outcompete us tomorrow (De
Borchgrave 2009).
Yet, young people have an entrepreneurial spirit that, if harnessed and
nurtured, could create much needed jobs and increased incomes. In fact, many young
people are at the helm of businesses whose sales top $1 million dollars (Guerrera
2007; Vanderkam 2007). If these students can become entrepreneurs not only
owning their own businesses, but also providing jobs in their communities their
higher status within the community and increased earnings may create models of
success and encourage a higher level of engagement in high school by other students
in a way that enables success. Innovation, information technology, renewable
3 See appendix E
3


resources, and small business are generally considered the primary growth drivers of
the 21st century economy. Entrepreneurship has an integral place within all of them,
and should be part of every high school curriculum. As Michael Caselin, Executive
Vice President for Public Policy for the National Foundation for Teaching
Entrepreneurship (NFTE) states,
It is our firm belief that entrepreneurial thinking and behaviors, skills
and attitudes positively focus a young persons energy and provides a
powerful possibility for long-term social change. Hence our urgent
commitment to expanding the promise of entrepreneurship education
to youth from low-income communities right here in Americas
needy communities which are currently being threatened by massive
high school drop-out rates and growing under and unemployment
(The Aspen Institute 2008).
School-aged youth are often unaware of opportunities that are available to
them as the focus group results below demonstrate which retards valuable
skills-leaming processes that would allow youth to solve local, national and social
problems through innovative work. At the same time, graduating college students are
finding that their education does not get them a job. The changing environment has
moved the demand for labor to sectors in which there is a lack of skill, for example,
geospatial technology, information technology, and the energy sector (U.S.
Department of Labor 2010). As the economy continues to undergo transformative
changes, traditional education will need to adapt to the needs of a global economy in
which entrepreneurship will be more important
Indeed, according to a survey by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, nearly
half of all dropouts report that they quit school because classes were not interesting
(Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Morison 2006). Starting a business could become a link to
an interesting and meaningful academic experience. A large percentage of high
school dropouts could benefit from starting their own businesses (The Aspen Institute
2008). Kourilsky (1997) points out, however, that many young people of low
socioeconomic status do not often have access to entrepreneur programs or awareness
of the businesses they can create. Indeed, even more affluent youth do not get
exposed to entrepreneurial opportunities. According to Kourilsky (1997), there is no
established business model for young people to follow, regardless of socioeconomic
status.
4


CHAPTER 2
HOW YBDP ADDRESSES THE PROBLEM
The Youth Business Development Project (YBDP) benefits at-risk high-
school youth by allowing them to design and potentially run their own businesses.
Running a business provides an immediate incentive to apply education, such as
quantitative and communication skills, and therefore provides a more salient motive
to attend classes and retain information pertinent to career success.
The underlying assumption of the project is that entrepreneurship education
could improve self-motivation and increase the perceived value of education, which
in turn, would empower at-risk students to pursue salient knowledge at every life
stage. Furthermore, it could provide the links, both internal and external, that enable
students to actualize goals of business ownership.
YBDP provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in the learning
process. In the same way that sports provide an arena for students to be challenged,
engaged in school, and to excel at something that they enjoy, the YBDP provides an
arena for entrepreneurially inclined students to distinguish themselves and engage in
scholastic excellence. By addressing the problem of low academic performance and
income levels in Denvers inner city schools and communities, the Youth Business
Development Project also indirectly addresses the issues of social justice, income
disparities for minorities, inner-city poverty, economic decline, and crime. Although
not all students will be interested in business ownership, all students can benefit from
entrepreneurship training and can become transformative members of society.
As successful charter schools, such as the Knowledge is Power Program
(KIPP) Academies, and inner-city turnaround successes demonstrate, the solution to
poor education is, at least in part, challenging students and asking more of them along
with providing curricula that students deem interesting (Bridgeland et al. 2006).
Students also report that having someone that they can talk to, smaller classes, and
making education more relevant leads to greater success (Bridgeland et al. 2006). In
the proposed program, students can create business plans that help to develop
analytical, comprehension, mathematics, research, critical thinking, and
communications skills. Students who are motivated and capable can opt in to the
extracurricular program where mentors help students implement business plans in the
real world, thereby creating a strong mental link between the skills learned in
entrepreneurship class, including math and reading, and their real-world applications.
This addresses the students perceived lack of relevance and engagement in education
that both the focus group students and students from the Gates Foundation study
indicated were the primary reasons for poor performance (Bridgeland et al. 2006).
5


Meanwhile, organizations like The Aspen Institute, the DC Children and
Youth Investment Trust Corporation, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
have taken up the mantle of helping young people become entrepreneurs. These
organizations understand that the innovation needs of the new global economy
require that young people be prepared for jobs that do not yet exist (Advancing
Entrepreneurship Education, 2008). Peter Drucker (1995) spoke of the knowledge
economy and of innovation as the key to economic stability and expansion. In
addition, social entrepreneurship the development of a business that has a positive
social impact is a concept whereby young people can make a difference in the
world while, at the same time, creating an income for themselves (Hatch, 2008).
The satisfaction, monetary earnings, prestige, and social contacts that a young
person can derive from being a business owner make a strong case for creating
opportunities for young people to participate in the market economy (Kourilsky,
2007). Furthermore, there are, and have been for years, successful teen
entrepreneurs, some of whom have become millionaires before graduating from high
school. Anyone can find these young entrepreneurs by simply searching for teen
millionaires on the Internet. For many students, entrepreneurship is a viable
opportunity, yet, as the focus group results clearly demonstrate, disadvantaged
students are uninformed concerning entrepreneurship opportunities, though they
articulate a high interest in business ownership (Kourilsky 1997). YBDPs
connections to youth-oriented education organizations and integration with other
youth opportunitiesYoung Americans Bank, college preparation courses,
Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), and Denvers Youth Employment
Academycan create a value-laden array of opportunities that communicate to
students the value they have to society and encourage them to opt in rather than drop
out.
The existing education system, flawed as it may be, is the most effective and
viable medium through which to reach the target market: disadvantaged youth aged
14-18. Education reformers have tried a myriad of reforms and after-school programs
to engage students in the academic process. According to Colorado Governor Bill
Ritter, Education reform can never be too ambitious when you know the
consequences of doing nothing (Haythom, 2009, pi).
Likewise, national standards are in for immediate reform. Included in
President Obamas stimulus package is a $4.35 billion race to the top education
fund that creates incentives for schools that make dramatic progress towards new
national standards on math and reading. This money facilitates investment in
innovative programs like YBDP that can increase aggregate math and reading
performance. Education reform in the United States and Colorado is imminent,
6


which creates an opportunity for programs like YBDP to demonstrate the value it
creates for schools, students, and communities.
Mentors
Four local business owners volunteered to be mentors for a period of 20
weeks. These were individuals known to me in the community who each had worked
with young people in other capacities. Each person mentored two students who were
matched according to a questionnaire that the students filled out. Mentors spent
approximately 45 minutes per week helping the students fill out the workbook
modules that served as the curriculum. They worked specifically on the businesses
that their mentees had chosen, discussing ideas, budgets, marketing, and business
structures. The students were encouraged to contact their mentors via telephone or e-
mail during the week with questions. Only one student contacted the mentor outside
of the class. Mentors helped students do Internet research to identify products, prices,
patents, and marketing information. Some of the students were not well versed in
Internet research techniques and thus were unable to take full advantage of the
mentors help. Five of the nine study group students said that having a mentor was
the single most helpful thing when starting a new business.
Mentors were asked to fill out an exit survey. They concluded that they did
not make a difference in their students lives because they did not spend enough time
with the students to create a relationship with them and to really work on the
businesses. The mentors all liked using the curriculum, but again, felt that they
needed more time with students to be able to fully implement the curriculum. The
mentors all agreed that allowing students to choose a business that they had no
experience in was not a good idea. They felt that the students should have been given
a list of businesses to choose from.
Students reported that having mentors did make a difference in the way they
viewed their education. Since the mentors were not teachers, but business people, the
students had a chance to interact on a different level with adults. They also
recognized that the mentors were giving up their personal time to work with them.
Differentiation
YBDP is unique in its focus on facilitating student-mentor relationships in
order to incubate and establish real-world youth businesses. While there are
numerous programs that teach entrepreneur skills in the classroom throughout the
country, such as Junior Achievement, DECA, and the National Foundation for
Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), none takes a budding entrepreneur to the level of
7


a business owner, which is a necessary step in order to add the highest level of
immediacy and relevancy to the knowledge gained from these programs.
Another unique aspect of the project is that it is site-based vs. centralized.
The hands-on nature of the project, together with the relationship that is forged with a
mentor, can increase students self-efficacy, academic achievement, and, as a result,
the likelihood of improved socio-economic status.
The strengths of this project are its unique focus on helping at-risk youth start
businesses of their own choosing and the experiential learning that comes with a real-
world task. The importance of entrepreneurship of any type in the twenty-first
century economy cannot be overstated. Yet, there are no programs that assess the
effect of real-world entrepreneurship on academic achievement. If successful, this
project could become a model for entrepreneurship education, with the incumbent
effect of helping to lift youth out of poverty and increase affluence of local
neighborhoods.
8


CHAPTER 3
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
There are many financial literacy and entrepreneur programs that take
instruction to the classroom for students from elementary school through high school.
Some of those programs, such as DECA, allow students to start mock businesses
within their schools so that they can get a sense of what running a business is about.
Some of these programs are well regarded and have increased students financial
literacy (Kourilsky, 2007). Programs such as those created by Junior Achievement,
DECA, and the Kauffman Foundation have been successful in helping students
understand that financial literacy is important; however, none of these programs
explicitly train students to actually start and run a business. Yet, a large percentage of
students of all ethnicities and socio-economic status want to start their own businesses
(Kourilsky, 2007; Kauffman, 2007). According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman
Foundation (2007), as many as 77% of students between eight and 17 years old either
want to start their own businesses in the future or think that starting their own
business is a possibility. Kourilskys (1997) study of 664 white, black, and Hispanic
high school students revealed that 54% stated that they would be very likely or likely
to start their own businesses.
Youth from low socio-economic status (SES) families growing up in the inner
city often stay within their social class and do not graduate from high school (Bureau
of Labor Statistics, 2008). If these students can become entrepreneurs not only
owning their own businesses, but also providing jobs in their communities their
higher status within the community may drive them to seek reinforcement of their
feelings of higher social status and thus inspire them to continue their education.
Youth entrepreneurship is rapidly becoming a focus of educational programs.
While there is still only a small amount of research into youth entrepreneurship and
its relation to success in school, some districts, such as Denver Public Schools in
Denver, Colorado, recognize the possibility for enhancing the quality of education
through entrepreneurship education. There are business teachers being hired, as well
as a new charter school4 devoted to teaching entrepreneur skills to high school
students. Budgets, however, do not necessarily keep up with the demand for this type
of education.
4 The Denver Venture School opened in August 2008. The homepage of their web site states, One of the basic
premises of this school is that the skills required to be a successful entrepreneur are the same skills required to be
successful in college and in work.
9


Yet, there are many advantages to young people in becoming business
owners. Business ownership provides jobs in communities that desperately need
economic stimulus. Young people who become business owners may not create
many jobs, but even one new job is valuable to a community. The satisfaction that a
young person can derive from being a business owner, as well as monetary earnings,
the prestige, and the contacts all help to make a strong case for creating opportunities
for young people to participate in the market economy (Kourilsky 2007). As the
economy changes and innovative products are needed to fuel this new economy,
entrepreneurs will be the driving force behind this innovation. Peter Drucker, in an
interview by Edersheim (2007) states, We should expect radical changes in society
as well as in business. We havent seen all those changes yet. Even the very
products we buy will change drastically (Edersheim 2007 pg. 30). A large group of
young entrepreneurs can change the paradigm of entrepreneurship to include
innovation at all levels of the society. Drucker has long foreshadowed the trends of
both American and global business.
Successful business ownership requires that the entrepreneur has the
necessary skills to manage the financial, customer service, inventory, manufacturing,
and personnel portions of the business. In order to get financing, potential business
owners must be able to write a business plan that is concise, thoughtful, relevant, and
shows how the business will profit. The basic skills necessary to synthesize
information, write a solid business plan, and calculate budgets and profits are all
skills that are taught in school as part of the general curriculum. From science to
mathematics, to literature, these basic skills include problem-solving skills, research
skills, critical thinking, writing skills, and even the scientific method in science
classes are all skills that are necessary to be able to think through how a business plan
can be implemented profitably. If students can see the relevance of what they are
learning in school to their future as entrepreneurs, there is a chance that their entry
into the business world can be made much smoother and more profitable than if they
either drop out or are disengaged from the learning process. Also, given the rapidly
changing economy and globalization, being a learner is beneficial to keeping up with
trends that mean profits (Drucker 1995).
School Disengagement and Dropping Out
Young people are dropping out of high school at an alarming rate. The
National Center for Education Statistics (2005) revealed that on average one in four
Hispanic and one in ten black American students drop out of school. This grim
statistic underscores the need for an incentive for young people to understand the
value of education in order to reverse the worsening trend of young people from low-
10


income and minority families falling through the educational cracks. Telling a high
school student who is thinking of dropping out that staying in school will have a
positive impact on his or her future may not carry much weight if he or she is only
thinking about how irrelevant currently offered classes are. An incentive that has a
positive impact now, that is something that a student can identify as valuable to them
today, could be an incentive that persuades him or her to give education a chance.
A large percentage of dropouts are students who could benefit from starting
their own businesses. Kourilsky (1997) points out, however, that many low SES
young people do not often have access to entrepreneur programs, nor do they have the
exposure that allows them to conceive of the kinds of businesses that they could start.
Indeed, even more affluent youth do not get exposed to entrepreneurial opportunities.
When young people try to think about starting their own businesses, there is no model
for them to follow, regardless of socioeconomic status (Kourilsky 1997).
While there are a plethora of after-school programs and school reform
programs designed to keep students in school and improve their test scores, none
address the importance of youth entrepreneurship in a tangible way. Yet
organizations like The Aspen Institute, the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust
Corporation, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation have taken up the mantel
of helping young people become entrepreneurs. These organizations understand that
the innovation needs of the new global economy require that young people be
prepared for jobs that do not even exist yet {Advancing Entrepreneurship Education,
2008). Peter Drucker (1995) spoke of the knowledge economy and of innovation
as the key to economic stability and expansion. In the developed world as well as in
developing countries, ideas will lead to prosperity. It is the young entrepreneur who
will be in the best position to develop these ideas into viable commodities. In
addition, social entrepreneurship the development of a business that has a positive
social impact is a developing concept whereby young people can make a difference
in the world while, at the same time, creating an income for themselves (Hatch,
2008).
Students who are failing or disengaged in school, however, have an uphill
battle to regain their interest. These students may feel that they cannot learn, that
school is of little value, or that their peer group is similarly disengaged and so they
see disengagement as the status quo. They may feel that academics are not relevant
to their daily life (Bridgeland et al. 2006). Starting a business of their own may
change their perception of education as well as of their own academic abilities. The
use of mentors to facilitate starting a business can also be shown to have positive
effects on a students academic achievement. Mentoring relationships are shown to
have a positive effect on students self-esteem and perception of school relevance
(Linnehan, 2001). Linnehan (2001) further showed that students who worked with
11


mentors frequently discussed the relevance of school to their lives, which may have
led to students perception of increased relevance. While it has been shown that it is
difficult to use social persuasion to increase self-efficacy (Bandura, 1994), I propose
that an increase in the perception of school relevance will have a positive effect on
academic achievement. Studies such as the one by the Gates Foundation of 467
students who had dropped out of high school (Bridgeland et al. 2006) show that
relevance is an important factor in keeping students in school.
Mentoring relationships also have a positive effect on students self-esteem
and perception of school relevance (Linnehan, 2001). Linnehan (2001) further
showed that students who worked with mentors frequently discussed the relevance of
school to their lives, indicating that the perspective that mentors passed on to students
increased students perception of the relevancy of education and perceived value of
academics, which indicates an increased likelihood of academic success, according to
value-expectation theory. Mentors can also contribute to mastery experiences and
vicarious experiences (Bandura, 1994) by working closely with students to help them
create an independently viable or fundable business plan, counseling them through
the difficult incubation period of the business, and being role models of success.
Mentors can also contribute to mastery experiences and vicarious experiences
(Bandura, 1994) by working closely with students to help them create a fundable
business plan, counseling them through the difficult incubation period of the business,
and being role models of success.
Research-Theory Link
Three theoretical frameworks inform this study. The first involves self-
efficacy theory which is defined as peoples beliefs about their capabilities to
produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that
affect their lives (Bandura, 1994). Self-efficacy is a part of several theories of self
(Gecas 1982, 1989) that help define how people see themselves both in relation to
others and as individuals. Bandura has shown that high self-efficacy is an important
characteristic in achievement. Studies by Pajares (2002), Cole and Denzine (2004),
and Bandura show that high self-efficacy and academic achievement are positively
correlated. Self-efficacy can be increased by four sources of influence: mastery
experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and stress reaction (Pajares and
Urdan 2006). Mastery experiences are successes that people experience. Vicarious
experiences are those that are provided through social models, such as mentors.
Vicarious experiences can work to undermine success if the role model is perceived
as a failure. The greater the connection to the role model, the more influence they
will have on the individual. Social persuasion, that is, telling a person that he or she
12


is capable, is a third source of influence. It is difficult to verbally persuade someone
that they are capable, but it is easy to undermine someones belief in their capabilities
by telling them that they are not capable. Last is the influence of stress and stress
reaction. Positive emotional states can increase self-efficacy and negative emotional
states can undermine it (Bandura, 1994).
This indicates that a key to success for YBDP is that mentors create
achievable milestones for students and set students up for small successes they can
build from. Likewise, it is important that mentors be encouraging, positive,
knowledgeable, and successful in some aspect of entrepreneurship. The first hurdle
in enabling success is increasing students beliefs that they can succeed.
A second theoretical framework involves expectation-value theory (Weiner,
1990) and expectancy theory (Vroom, 2005), which deal with motivation. Motivation
is a key component of success in academics and organizations. According to these
two theories, expectation for success and the value that is placed on the task
determine the level of motivation that a student shows (Maher & Sjogren, 1971).
Essentially, the more a student values a task and expects success, the more motivated
he or she will be to attempt the task.
This research indicates that personal relevance is a crucial aspect to motivate
students (Bridgeland et al. 2006). Only if students view education as personally
valuable will they be motivated to excel academically. Likewise, in order to gamer
participation in the program, youth must value the process of entrepreneurship.
Lastly, social identity theory says that students form a social identity through
identification with certain groups or social categories (Stets & Burke, 2000) and that
there is value in belonging to the groups (Hogg & Terry, 2000). In-groups include
peers, family, cohorts (for example, the class of 2010), and their community, among
others. Perceptions of in-groups are positive and help the individual identify with the
social norms of the group. Out-group members, in contrast, are categorized as
different from the in-group members because they do not hold a similar social
identification (Stets & Burke, 2000). Students who start their own businesses will
have the opportunity to become members of a new in-group that utilizes academic
skills to create wealth. The relationship between identification with the in-group and
the operant behavior that creates engagement in the classroom can begin to mitigate
the problems of perceived irrelevance in the school curriculum.
This means that it is important to reach a tipping point where entrepreneurs
and potential business owners are perceived by students as us rather than them.
This requires acquiring a critical mass of respected peers in the student community to
become involved with or endorse the program. High profile entrepreneurial successes
enabled by a combination of education and mentorship may encourage students to
follow a similar path.
13


Research Questions
1. Does participation in a real-world entrepreneurship program change the level of
academic success that students experience?
2. Does students self-efficacy change as a result of participation in a program of
entrepreneurship?
3. Does participation in an entrepreneurship program make a difference in the way
that students perceive the relevance of their education?
Hypotheses
1. Hi: Students who participate in the program will increase their self-efficacy
compared to students who do not participate in the program.
2. H2: Students who participate in the program will report greater academic
engagement than students who do not participate.
3. H3: Students who participate in the program will increase academic achievement,
as measured by an increase in GPA, more than students who do not participate in
the program.
4. H4: Students who participate in the program will report a greater understanding
of the relevance of school than those who did not participate.
14


CHAPTER 3
METHODS
The project took place in two parts: the focus group phase and the study
phase. The focus group phase took place over two days where I interviewed students
who met the criteria of low grade point average. The study phase took place over 20
weeks, during which students received direct instruction on entrepreneurship and
worked with mentors to develop a business idea of their own.
The school was chosen from among the schools in the district because I have
an established relationship with administrators and the demographics of the school
are consistent with the group of students that I wanted to study. The unit of analysis
was individuals. The original sample consisted of 20 high school students selected
randomly from among the roster of students who fit the GPA criteria. The criterion
for selection was based on students low academic performance. For this study, low
academic performance was defined as students whose cumulative grade point average
was no higher than 2.5 in the previous academic year. There was no preference for
ages or grade levels.
Focus Groups Phase
Before beginning this mixed methods study, I conducted focus groups to
understand how students felt about being entrepreneurs and what they knew about
business. The purpose of the focus groups was to understand whether these students
believed that a program that helped them start their own businesses would be helpful
to them and to understand their level of interest in participating in a program that
required academic rigor. These data were also used to help identify mentors and
create mastery experiences for the students.
Further, I was interested in understanding how the students perceived the
relevance of their education to their daily lives did they have a sense of how the
things they learned in their classes could be applied in the real world? I also
wondered what their thoughts about post-secondary education were did they see
college as an alternative? If not, what were their plans? Finally, if previous studies
were correct, there should be an interest in participating in a program that helped the
students start their own businesses. The results of the focus group would help to
determine whether the pilot study should be implemented.
15


The focus group study was conducted to discover students interest in the
program, their knowledge of business opportunities, and the qualities they seek in a
mentor. They were also asked about their perceptions of entrepreneurship and
whether they believed that owning a business would change their commitment to
education.
The research questions for the focus group study were:
1. Would the students embrace a program that helps at-risk students start their own
businesses?
2. Do the students at MLKJEC have a realistic understanding of business
ownership?
3. Do the students at MLKJEC believe that being business owners would help them
in their daily lives?
Focus Groups Sample
The focus groups were conducted with high school students from Martin
Luther King Jr. Early College (MLKJEC), an urban 6th through 12th grade school in
the Denver Public Schools District. Primary data were collected in a series of two
focus groups with students from MLKJEC. Participants were selected at random
from a group of students whose grade point average was 2.5 or lower and who were
enrolled in the business classes and Advancement Via Individual Determination
(AVID) classes. The focus group consisted of 16 students.
Focus Group Procedure
Each group was asked the same series of questions from a questionnaire5 that
I created and each session was tape-recorded for later transcription. Data from the
focus groups were transcribed verbatim. The students were asked whether they were
interested in starting a business, what would incentivize them to participate in a
program that is academically rigorous as well as potentially financially beneficial,
how they would measure success, and about qualities that they would like to see in a
mentor. Results from the focus groups were analyzed using a qualitative study
framework as presented by Creswell & Plano-Clark (2008).
5 See Appendix B
16


Study Phase
Study Design and Intervention
This study was a quasi pretest posttest, control group field experiment. The
dependent variable was participation in the study group. The project consisted of a
20-week program where students were paired with mentors who helped them develop
a plan for starting a business of their own. A curriculum developed by the Young
Americans Center for Financial Education (YACFE) in Denver served as the primary
teaching tool. I presented instruction using the YACFE curriculum for one hour each
week. The instruction was conducted during the ninth period of the school day, when
students typically meet with faculty advisors or participate in extracurricular
activities. After the class time, the mentors would come in to work with groups of
two students on the students specific business interests for approximately 45
minutes. Students were paired with volunteer mentors who were community business
people and helped the students develop their plans.
The curriculum was composed of eight modules, each of which focused on a
different aspect of business creation6. During the class period I instructed on each
module and they began to fill out the workbook section. They also brainstormed
business ideas and critiqued each others ideas. When the mentors arrived the
students broke up into their groups (two students per mentor, with one mentor having
three students) and continued working on the module workbook section. The mentors
discussed each students specific business idea and helped the students with Internet
searches to find information about the product or service that comprised their
business idea. The students and mentors were able to communicate via e-mail outside
of class when necessary, although only one student took advantage of the access.
The 20-week instruction period marked the end of the study period. With
more time the study would have included an incubation period for those students who
actually started a business. Threats to internal validity included a potential
instrumentation effect because students took the same self-efficacy test pre- and post-
participation in the study. Students responses at the second administration of the test
may have been conditioned on what they recalled from their responses at the first
administration. Another potential threat was a regression effect pertaining to the
students GPAs. The regression effect describes the tendency for extreme scores on
an assessment like GPA to rebound to the population average over time. I expected
the GPAs to increase somewhat at the end of the study because they were so low to
begin with. However, this was not the case. In some cases the GPAs went down even
6 See Appendix G
17


further. Some factors such as personal history or maturation could not be controlled
for. External validity threats included the small sample size because the data cannot
be generalized to other populations.
Study Group Sample
The sampling frame consisted of high school students who had low academic
performance at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College (MLKJEC), an urban public
high school in Denver, Colorado. The school administration provided me with the
list of all the students cumulative GPA. From that list I randomly selected 20
students whose GPA was 2.50 or below. Those students were called in and the study
was explained to them. They were then asked if they were interested in participating;
not all students were interested. I then randomly selected a second group of students
to make up the 20 that I needed and again called them in. In all, I had three rounds of
selection before I recruited 20 students that were willing to participate.
Of the 20 students, nine participated in the project for 20 weeks, two students
ultimately chose not to participate, and the remaining nine students participated in
one to three classes and then dropped out. The students who dropped out of the study
group did so primarily because of other commitments such as sports or student
council. This may have created a self-selection bias in that those students were
already more engaged in the school than were the students who remained. There may
also have been a negative selection bias in that the remaining students were at the
bottom of their respective classes academically and had no involvement in extra
curricular activities.
The study group consisted of seven tenth graders (78%) and two eleventh
graders (22%), four of the participants were males (44%) and five females (56%).
The racial composition of the group was four black/African American (44%), four
Hispanic (44%), and one Asian (11%). This demographic roughly mirrors the school
demographics (see Table 1).
The nine students who dropped out were tracked as a control group to
determine whether or not participation in the program had any effect on school
engagement versus those who did not continue. The demographics of the control
group consisted of four tenth graders (44%), two eleventh graders (22%), and three
twelfth graders (33%), three females (33%), and six males (67%). The racial
composition was one black/African American (11%) and eight Hispanics (89%).
Optimally, the control group would have consisted of all low-GPA students in
the school who did not participate in the study and did not self-select out.
Unfortunately, the disaggregated data was not available by the end of this study
18


period and it would be impossible to consent the large number of students that such a
control group would represent.
Table 1
Demographics of Martin Luther King Jr. Early College and Study and Control
Groups
Black American Hispanic Asian Native American White Free/Reduced Lunch Total Population
MLK 57.4% 31.4% 4.5% <1% 6% 80.4% 1150
Study Group 44% 44% 11% 0 0 9
Control Group 11% 89% 0 0 0 9
Source: Denver Public Schools
Instruments
Pre-and post self-efficacy tests were administered to all students. Self-
efficacy was measured using the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE)7 originally
created by Jerusalem and Schwartzer in 1981 as a 20-item scale. The scale that was
used in this study is a modification created by Jerusalem and Schwartzer in 1993.
Internal consistency has been demonstrated in samples from 23 countries.
Cronbachs alphas ranged from .75 and .91 but for the majority of the studies they
were around .80
(Schwartzer and Jerusalem 1993). Retest reliability has been found to be
between r = .55 and .67. Validity with high school students was established in a
project with 3,514 high school students where general self-efficacy was correlated
with optimism at .49 and in the perception of challenge in stressful situations at .45
(Schwartzer & Schloz, 2000).
Pre and post semi-structured interviews8 were conducted with all students
(study and control group) to determine their perception of the relevancy of their
education, their impressions of the program, and their reported chances of starting a
business in the future. Interviews were transcribed and coded for patterns and
themes.
7 See Appendix A
8 See Appendix C
19


The independent variable was participation in program, with the dependent
variables being 1) Grade point average (GPA), 2) Engagement in school with
indicators being attendance and self-report, 3) Students reported relevance of the
school curriculum, and 4) Self-efficacy.
Grade point average is defined as the average of each students grades for the
period of the study, which includes the first and second semester final grades for the
2009-2010 school year. The average of these grades are compared to the students
second semester grades from the previous school year. I looked at both the GPA that
included all classes, as well as the core GPA, which included only
English/Language arts, mathematics, foreign language, social science, and science
courses.
Engagement in school is defined as the students interest in the classroom
learning. Indicators are attendance, as reported on the students transcript, and each
students self report of engagement. Indicators of self-report are, whether the student
feel that they are a better student after participating in the program.
Relevance is defined as the students perception that what they are learning in
the classroom is useful to their everyday life and/or their future life. The indicator of
relevance was each students report of relevance.
Self efficacy is defined as peoples beliefs about their capabilities to produce
designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their
lives (Bandura, 1994). The indicator of increased self-efficacy is an increased score
on the General Self-Efficacy Scale (Schwartzer and Jerusalem 1993).
20


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
Focus Group Findings
Overall, the students expressed interest in starting their own businesses during
high school. Students understood that business ownership entails financial risk and
requires more than standing behind a counter and taking money from customers; they
understood that owning a business requires a big time investment, the need to know
what is happening in the business on a daily basis, the monetary risk involved, and
the pressure of dealing with employees.
Nevertheless, focus group participants exhibited a deep interest in business
opportunities, as opposed to purely academic pursuits, though they did not have a
particularly broad understanding of what that may entail. Twenty-seven percent of
the students knew someone who is a business owner. Three students said the cost of
starting a business of any type was well over $100,000. Only one student said that
the cost of starting a business would depend on the type of business. Some of the
students felt that hard work would ensure the success of any business, but they
could not quantify what hard work meant.
The students were asked about the advantages and disadvantages of being
business owners. Autonomy and being ones own boss was expressed as a major
advantage, as well as choosing the physical layout of the store and setting their own
prices. Interestingly, retail businesses were the only types of businesses that were
referenced by the students. The primary business risk they mentioned was failure.
Related comments included the high cost of starting a business, the possibility of
losing the money if the business failed, the cost of replacing inventory and the risk
that customers would not like the inventory that was selected. Employees also were
classified as being risky because they might want higher salaries or steal from the
company.
The students were asked if they had ever thought about having a business of
their own. Seven of them said that they had thought about business ownership, but
not before they were adults. None of the students believed that young people could
have a business, with the exception of a lemonade stand, which they did not perceive
as a real business. All but one of the students thought that they would like to own
their own businesses now.
Later in the discussion, the students were asked what types of businesses they
might start as young people. Five of the students mentioned food-related businesses,
21


including a lemonade stand and selling Girl Scout cookies (that student was informed
that the sale of Girl Scout cookies was not a business for those who sell them, but a
fund raiser for their troops). Four students thought of items they could sell over the
Internet, and four others mentioned a retail store. The other three students could not
think of a business to start.
Then, the discussion turned to mentorships. Since this project would rely
heavily on the student-mentor relationship, it was important to understand what
qualities students would like to see in a mentor. All of the students said that they
would like to have a mentor if the mentor met certain criteria. The two criteria that
were mentioned most often were 1) a mentor who understands them and 2) someone
who could teach them something. Other qualities students sought were
trustworthiness, a good listener, someone with whom they had good chemistry, and
someone who would not try to be a parent. Only two students said that a mentor
should be the same gender or race as they are.
From mentoring, the conversation turned to education. The response to the
question, Do you think that your education is relevant to your daily lives? was a
resounding No. Thirteen of the 16 students (81 percent) said that the education
they are receiving is not relevant, at least at some level although they thought that
some subjects are probably worth studying. Eight students (50 percent) said that only
a few subjects that they are taught are relevant. All the students singled out science
(especially biology), algebra, and calculus (even though none of the students were
taking any mathematics higher than first year algebra) as the least relevant. Four
students (25 percent) said that they believe that they will never need the information
that they are learning in school, and one student said that nothing about school has
anything to do with real life. One student stated, After the stuff you learn in
middle school its kind of over cause I dont think youll ever need it unless youre
gonna (sic) study and be a scientist or something.
Comments like science is for people who like math and medical school is
for people who like science indicated that students exclude themselves from those
categories. In summary, there is the sense among students that academics have some
importance, but little immediacy or relevance in their lives. Therefore academic
achievement fails to motivate them.
On the other hand, students said that being in school gave them something to
do. One student stated that school was a good way to kill seven hours of the day .
Other reasons for being in school included making friends and learning social skills
(25 percent), learning how things work and problem solving (19 percent), to learn
different things just in case (19 percent), school prepares you for a career (19
percent), and because school is free.
22


The young men wanted to take vocational classes, i.e. auto shop,
woodworking, metal working, so that they would be ready to enter the workforce
after graduation. They saw college as a place where one learns a skill if one does not
have a relative to teach them. In essence, they saw college as a vocational training
center. Follow up questions about careers such as medicine were answered with
vague notions of how one achieved that level of education. Comments such as,
thats for people who like science, hinted that the young men did not see
themselves as being able to break out of the social class in which they find
themselves. They all agreed that the best way to have a career was to have an uncle
or some other relative with whom they could apprentice. Only one young man said
that because he did not have an uncle, he had thought about becoming a massage
therapist.
The results of the focus group indicated that there is broad interest in
entrepreneurship, but the students feel excluded from it, primarily because of their
age and the resultant difficulty securing financing. Clearly, students would need
communication skills and quantitative skills for business more than they realize, but it
is uncertain whether students would be motivated to improve grades in other courses
as a result of participation in the program. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume
that the motivation to gain skills related to business ownership would stimulate
improvement in the mastery of these skills, including math and writing, and
consequently improve these students performance on standardized tests. If this is the
case, increased funding would start a snowball effect of increased opportunity,
increased performance, more funding, and so on, which would begin the elimination
of poverty in urban areas.
Follow up questions led the students to reflect on whether they felt that their
education would make them better business owners. They all said that they thought
education would help because they would be able to keep track of their finances.
None of the students equated the ability to write well with creating a business plan.
They also felt that securing financing would be difficult because of their age. Only
one student stated that learning about science and technology would be helpful to
creating a business because of the technological nature of the economy. The students
overall had a vague notion that education could help them be better business people,
but they could not articulate why or how their education could be beneficial.
Finally, one reason for the focus groups was to determine whether going
forward with the pilot study was reasonable. As mentioned previously, all but one of
the students said that they would like to have a business now. The one student who
was not interested said that she was busy with schoolwork and outside activities and
did not have time to devote to running a business. At the end of one of the sessions a
girl stayed after the other students had left and asked me many specific questions
23


about how she could start a business. She wanted ideas for businesses that she could
start in her neighborhood. Her comment was that her family did not have much
money and she felt badly asking for extra things that she felt they could not afford.
Having her own business would be helpful to the family because she could take care
of her own needs and family finances could be dedicated to food and shelter.
All of the respondents felt that owning a business as an adolescent would be
helpful to them, not only because of the money that they could earn, but because it
would give them insight into the adult world that they will soon have to navigate.
They also felt that business ownership would teach them things that they do not feel
that they are learning in school and would thus be more relevant than their formal
education. One student said, .that would be the only thing that would be relevant
(emphasis added by the student).
Study Group Findings
The students in the study group were those that participated in the program for
20 weeks. These students were enthusiastic about the program for different reasons.
The most frequently mentioned reasons included listening to the ideas of other
students and being able to choose a business that was interesting to them (66 percent).
Other reasons included working with mentors and receiving snacks. Pre- and post
interviews with the students revealed that their initial enthusiasm for starting a
business was tempered by the amount of work involved. Most of the students in the
study group stated that the project was different than what they expected. As they
progressed through the project they found each step increasingly difficult, with 78
percent of students stating that starting a business was harder than they thought it
would be. By contrast, most of the control group students said that the few classes
they attended were what they expected, but they could not articulate what they had
expected the classes to be like. All students stated that if the program were offered as
an elective class for a grade they would be interested in taking it. The study group
students reported overwhelmingly (78 percent) that they would be likely or very likely
to start a business in the future. This finding is consistent with Kourilskys (1997)
findings. In the control group, all students said that they would be likely or very likely
to start a business in the future.
Measures of the success of the program included testing the four hypotheses
mentioned above. In the area of self-efficacy, on average there was a significant
difference in the change between the pre- and posttests between the study group and
the control group students. Independent samples T-test showed a greater increase in
the sense of self-efficacy in the study group (M = 2.88, SE = 1.25), than in the control
24


group (M = -1.20, SE = 1.66). This difference was significant f(l 1) = -1.99, p < .05;
however, the effect was small r = .27. The null hypothesis Hi is rejected.
In the area of academic engagement, 44 percent of students in the study group
reported that they felt they were better students than before starting the program, and
three of the nine reported no change in the type of student they were. In the control
group, 57 percent reported that they were better students, while 43 percent reported
no change. A second indicator of academic engagement was attendance. The
attendance figures were tracked by the school and included absences from individual
classes, thus the recorded absences were not the number of days missed, but the
number of classes missed. The study groups attendance prior to the beginning of the
program ranged from a low of three to a high of 56 absences; by the end of the year
the group had a low of 13 to a high of 69 absences. The control group ranged from a
low of 12 to 71 absences at the beginning of the year, to a low of 16 and a high of 98
absences by the end of the program. The independent samples T-test showed overall
fewer absences in the study group (M = 34.89, SE = 6.53), than in the control group
(M = 49.89, SE = 8.77), however, the difference was not significant between the
groups f(16) = 1.37, p > .05; this represented a medium sized effect r = .32. I failed
to reject the null hypothesis H2.
The difference in grade point average however, was significant between the
groups, although not in the expected direction. The difference in GPA was calculated
as the change from the last semester of the previous school year to the last semester of
the current school year. On average, students in the control group had a greater
increase in grade point average from the spring semester to the following spring
semester (one academic year) than did students in the study group. Independent
sample T-test showed less increase in the term GPA9 of the study group students (M
= -0.38, SE = 0.19) than the control group (M = 0.24, SE = 0.25). The difference in
the final GPA was significant /(16) = 2.37, p < .05 with a moderate effect r = .51. In
the case of the core GPA, independent sample T-test showed the same results as in
the term GPA: the study groups increase was less (M = -0.14, SE = 0.23) than the
control groups (M = 0.23, SE = 0.17). The difference in the core GPA was
significant f(16) = 1.30, p < .05, with a moderate effect r = .31.
In the study group 33 percent improved their core GPAs10 from the previous
year. In the control group 66 percent improved their core GPAs from the previous
year. The range of core GPAs for the study group at the beginning of the project was
9 The term GPA is the GPA for the previous semester only. Three terms were analyzed: spring semester of the
2008-2009 school year, which was used as the baseline GPA; fall semester of 2009-2010 school year; and spring
semester of 2009-2010 school year, which was used as the final grading period.
10 The GPA reflects only core subjects, which are defined as mathematics, English/language, foreign language,
science, and social science.
25


.77 to 1.92; for the control group .80 to 2.5, at the end of the project the study group
ranged from 0.33 to 3.10 and the control group ranged from 0.72 to 3.48. The null
hypothesis H3 is rejected.
Finally, students in the study group were asked about their perception of the
relevance of school. This was calculated as a dichotomous variable. On average the
students perception of relevance did increase from the beginning of the project (M =
.13, SE = .125), to the end of the project (M = .50, SE = .189). The difference in the
students perception of school relevance was significant t(7) = -2.05, p < .05; the
intervention represented a moderately large effect r = .61. The null hypothesis H4 is
rejected. Sixty-three percent of the study group reported that their perception of the
education that they were receiving had changed as a result of participating in the
program. The two most common remarks included that they realized the need for
further education and that they had learned new things in school that they felt were
relevant.
Discussion
The students in the study group displayed an interest in becoming
entrepreneurs. There were constraints that precluded the complete engagement and
success of the students. First, and most importantly, they lacked the prior knowledge
and academic background to carry out their plans. Many of these students ranked at
or near the bottom of their respective classes academically. Their grades show mostly
Ds and Fs, even in non-academic classes, which lead one to conclude that they are not
doing homework or even much class work, given the large number of absences. It is
reasonable to conclude that these students have developed a habit of not following
through on their school and homework and do not have much of a work ethic when it
comes to academics. It is also reasonable to conclude that they are not being held
accountable for completing homework or other tasks at school.
How this lack of accountability and productivity affected their success in this
program was directly related to tasks that they needed to perform in order to get
information for their business. For example, one student who wanted to market her
fathers barbeque seasoning was given the task of finding out the ingredients that he
used so that she and her mentor could come up with a cost for making the seasoning.
She was asked to bring the information for three consecutive weeks and never did get
it. Her mentor asked her whether her father did not want to divulge the recipe, and
she said that she did not know because she had forgotten to ask him for it. Obviously,
she could not proceed with her business if she did not know what she needed to
produce her product.
26


The students lack of prior knowledge interfered with their ability to find
information. Students went to the computer lab and also worked on mentors laptop
computers to do searches for such varied items as comparable products, other
companies that had similar businesses, ingredients for the product that they wanted to
create, and in one case, a student did a patent search. While the students understood
the technical aspects of doing a search, including what programs to use for access,
they did not have the knowledge to create search terms that would find the
information they needed. For example, one student was looking for flavorings for her
cupcakes. She was able to come up with the terms flavors and vanilla, but not
extracts, spices, or flavorings. Another student wanted to sell custom painted
t-shirts, but had no idea how to find other businesses that produced similar products.
Marketing and financial planning created another problem for students.
Certainly both of those concepts can become increasingly complex and sophisticated,
but in this case, the curriculum is written at an eighth grade level and meant for
younger students; the concepts are elementary and call on a low-level knowledge
base. Yet, for the most part, the students had difficulty relating the concepts to what
they already knew. For instance, several of the students could not understand that if
their product was expensive to make, that they would want to sell it for a price that
was more than the cost to make it. They also had difficulty understanding that there
was a cost to intangibles such as electricity or telephone charges. They were focused
on the idea that they would only pay a certain amount for the product and therefore
did not expect others to pay more.
Finally, students had difficulty putting their ideas on paper. Even with line-
by-line coaching, they had trouble coming up with adjectives that described their
ideas. In some cases, when adjectives were suggested, they did not know what the
words meant, or they used words incorrectly. Part of this problem was that the
students knew that they would not be graded for their work, so there was no negative
outcome if they did not do it. Several of the students had less than a 1.00 GPA (a
D) in their core subjects, which equates to a pattern of not doing class work,
homework, or both.
A second constraint that I encountered was the refusal of teachers to be
involved in any way. I had hoped to interview teachers pre- and post-project to get
information about the students classroom engagement, but with the exception of
three teachers, they refused to participate. I sent teachers consent forms with notes,
went to their classrooms, and encountered them in the teachers lounge. The reasons
for their lack of interest included being too busy, having no time during planning
time, before school, or after school, and not being interested in participating. The
teacher interviews were structured to take about 10 minutes. In reality, the three that
I was able to do took about seven minutes each, but even that short amount of time
27


was not feasible for teachers. Had they taken an interest in the students participation
it is possible that they could have encouraged the students to attend regularly and then
I could have monitored their classroom engagement.
The lack of teacher participation was an obstacle to conducting a thorough
analysis because several indicators of student engagement could not be measured.
These included a change in the students participation in the class, a change in
production and quality of class work, and a change in how students focused on the
instruction. The ability to interview teachers was the only way to measure these
variables, thus the analysis was not as rigorous as it could have been.
Another constraint was the time of day that the program was conducted -
during the students ninth period class time and into the after school time. Some of
the students were involved in sports, which met during that period; others were
involved in student council. Some students had credit recovery classes during ninth
period that they could not miss. Credit recovery classes help the students earn credit
for previously failed classes that is essential for them to graduate on time. Because
the class went into the after school time, some of the students had to leave to care for
younger siblings.
Finally, a constraint that was expressed by several students was that the
program was not for credit so the students did not feel an obligation to do anything
that they did not want to do. As a result, most students did not do anything except
attend the sessions. While students generally expressed that they better understood
the relevance of their education and that they were better students, their articulated
understanding did not necessarily square with an improvement in their grades.
There were some bright spots and exceptions, however. One exception was a
student who had one of the lowest GPAs of all the students. He discovered that he
was, in fact, a fairly good writer. He wanted to produce a magazine about local hip
hop artists and wrote several short pieces as illustrations of the types of articles that
he wanted to have. The pieces were well written and insightful. At the end of the
program this student commented that he was surprised at what a good writer he was.
Another student made a connection between testing her product and the definition of
dependent variables that she had learned about in biology class. A third student made
the honor roll in the first semester.
Other concerns that I noted included the students thoughts about the post-
high school activities. All students said that they planned to go on to a four-year
college or university after high school. Given the GPAs of the students, it is highly
unlikely that any but two or three will have access to higher education, except for,
perhaps, a community college. Even there, these students will probably have to take
remedial classes. They will certainly have to change the way they participate in
academia by doing their homework and spending time studying. It is of great concern
28


that the school system gives the impression that college is the ultimate choice for
students. These students will not have the ability to go on to a four-year college or
university because of their grades, yet they are not prepared for anything else. There
is little, if any, vocational training, and for those who want to go into a vocation, little
support compared to those who want to (and can) go to college (Lerman 1996).
29


CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION
This was a pilot study that presented an intervention to a small number of
students who were at the bottom of their classes academically. While this study
cannot be generalized to all high school students with low academic performance, it
does tell us something about how students would receive a program that gives them
the opportunity to try their hand at starting a business. Low-GPA students may not
seem to be the ideal candidates for an entrepreneurship program because of a lack of
scholastic engagement, yet these students are interested in the advantages that
business ownership can bring. Youth are capable of creating viable businesses and
new jobs, and disadvantaged youth have equal internal capacity for entrepreneurship.
Environmental factors, particularly socioeconomic status, community culture, and
poor schooling are partially responsible for the learning and earnings gaps between
suburban youth and urban youth. Through education, encouragement, mentorship,
and a network of opportunities for youth, a hands-on entrepreneur program can
ameliorate some of the environmental impacts that lead to urban poverty, crime, and
racial division. Likewise, it is reasonable to conclude that even the highest
performing demographic of high school studentssuburban white femalescan
benefit from an environment more conducive to developing skills most relevant in the
21st century economy.
In this study group there was a high level of student interest. To the extent that
teachers and mentors are able to design mastery experiences and to convince capable
students of their abilities, participating students are likely to be motivated to self-
actualize higher standards of success, both academically and professionally.
YBDP was developed to incorporate a new dimension of education into
students lives. There are many young people of all ages who own their own
businesses; some businesses are simple and some sophisticated. Many young people
are earning large sums of money with enterprises that are helping them pay for
college, contribute to their families, and have the income to raise their standard of
living. These young entrepreneurs are learning valuable life skills, problem-solving
skills, and critical thinking skills through business that will reverberate through
American society and the economy. Whether students grow their enterprises into a
career, quit and move on to other things, or start other businesses, they will have
experience that is real world and can translate a cycle of despondence into a cycle
of success that perseveres through all life stages.
30


Policy Implications
This pilot study has brought to light some of the problems that low-GPA
students have applying academic knowledge to real-world tasks. Many of these
students did not understand the relevance of their education; they did not see how
algebra, biology, or history can be useful to them in their lives. Although this study
comprised only nine subjects, their connection to education is reflective of larger
studies that have focused on students disillusionment with the educational system.
School districts should devise policies that serve to inform students about how
their academic education will translate to real-world experiences. Thinking, research,
and problem-solving skills were sorely lacking in the low-GPA students that
participated in this study. They did not have a set of tools that they could use to
critically think through even moderately difficult situations. They also did not have
exposure to many types of general information that could help them understand
concepts such as need for budgets or why someone would not want to buy a product.
Further, many of the students interviewed did not want to attend an academic
school after high school. As described in the section on focus groups, many students
saw college as a type of vocational school one learns a skill and then gets a job.
Also, not all students who are cognitively capable of being successful in college want
to go to college, but they are bombarded with the college message that essentially
tells them that anything other than college is seen as inadequate. Thus, vocational
programs should return to high schools so that students can try out various options.
These types of courses would provide incentive to students to use their talents, to
have an option besides college, and could be a catalyst for students to pursue their
own businesses. Education policy should reflect the needs of young people whose
interests, cultures, aptitudes, and expectations are more diverse than those of a strictly
middle class, white mainstream society. College is not for everyone, for many
reasons and we are selling students short when we deny them the opportunity to
choose a vocation instead of degree. Policy makers should ask themselves why
college is the only standard worth pursuing.
Strengths and Limitations
The strengths of this project lie in its unique focus on helping at-risk youth to
actually start businesses of their own choosing and the experiential learning that
comes with a real-world task. There are no studies that look at the effects of business
ownership on academic achievement together with the perceived relevancy of
academics to students lives. The project also is a window into how students use the
academic information that they learning in school in an applied setting.
31


Limitations of this study include the small sample size and regional
boundaries, thus negating generalizability. Another limitation is the use of a single
school to understand how students see a project of this type. Major limitations
included the time of day, as outlined above, the need for students to attend credit
recovery classes, and sports commitments. Offering the program during the school
day could have averted some of these limitations, but since there was no academic
credit offered, such an arrangement would not have been feasible. Other limitations
included the inability to get teacher cooperation to assess other indicators of student
engagement.
Ethics
Parents were required to sign an informed consent for students to participate
in the focus groups, and students were asked to sign an assent form. Students were
not guaranteed anonymity, but were guaranteed confidentiality. They were made
aware that others in the groups might speak about what was said in the groups and
students could experience some embarrassment amongst their friends.
Suggestions for Further Study
Since many of the students seemed motivated to start businesses in their
neighborhoods, there are potentially significant benefits for the students
communities: there may be jobs created by the businesses. On the other side, there is
a slight risk that conflict could be created by income disparities within the
neighborhood or local business competition that is less than friendly. The benefits are
expected to greatly outweigh the risks, eventually improving affluence, and
decreasing crime, welfare, and imprisonment.
Students who are able to start businesses should be tracked longitudinally to gauge
their academic performance over time compared to students who do not own
businesses. Also, it would be valuable to understand how owning a business as a
youth affects what students do after high school what percentage of them go on to
college vs. growing and establishing their business as a career.
32


APPENDIX A
GENERAL SELF-EFFICACY SCALE
Schwartzer & Jerusalem, 1993
ITEM Not at all true Hardly true Moderately true Exactly true
1 I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough. 1 2 3 4
2 If someone opposes me, I can find the means and ways to get what I want. 1 2 3 4
3 It is easy for me to stick to my aims and accomplish my goals. 1 2 3 4
4 I am confident that I could deal efficiently with unexpected events. 1 2 3 4
5 Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to handle unforeseen situations. 1 2 3 4
6 I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort. 1 2 3 4
7 I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities. 1 2 3 4
8 When I am confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions. 1 2 3 4
9 If I am in trouble, I can usually think of a solution. 1 2 3 4
10 I can hardly handle whatever comes my way. 1 2 3 4
33


APPENDIX B
FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS
1. Have you ever thought of having a business of your own?
a. If so, what type of business?
b. Did you ever try to start the business?
c. What happened?
2. Why would you want (or not want) to have a business?
3. How much money do you think it would take to start your own business?
a. Do you think that you could get that kind of money somehow? How?
4. What might be some advantages/disadvantages of having your own business?
5. Have you ever had a mentor?
a. If so, was it a formal relationship or informal?
b. If so, did you enjoy the experience? Why or why not?
6. What qualities make a good mentor?
7. Would you want to have a mentor?
8. How relevant would you say school is to your daily life? Why?
9. What do see yourself doing in the future?
10. How will you get there?
11. Do you know anyone who has been laid from his or her job?
12. What is easier, running a business or having a job? Why?
13. What do you think about a program that helps students start their own businesses?
a. Do you think it would be hard to do?
14. What if you knew that you could make money if you spent the time and effort to
write a really good business plan what would incentivize you keep working on it
even if you had to rewrite it 4 times?
15. What kinds of field trips do you think would be helpful in learning to start your
own business?
34


APPENDIX C
PRE/POST-PROGRAM INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Pre-Program
1. Explain why you chose to participate in the Youth Business Development Project
2. Do you think that what you are learning in school is relevant to your daily life?
Why or why not?
3. What are your plans for your future?
a. Do you plan to graduate from high school?
b. Do you plan to continue your education? Where?
c. Do you plan to get a job? Where/ what kind of job?
d. What career are you thinking of? Why?
4. Given that you have not started this program yet, do you already have a business in
mind that you would like to start?
5. Do you think it will be easy, hard, or somewhere in between to start and run a
business?
6. What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
7. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being not interested at all and 5 being super
interested, how interested are you in starting your own business? Why?
8. Again, on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being not confident at all and 5 being super
confident, how confident are you that you can start and run a successful business?
Why?
9. What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
Post-program
1. What are your plans for the future?
1. Do you plan to graduate from high school?
2. Do you plan to continue your education? Where?
3. Do you plan to get a job? Where/what kind of job?
4. Do you plan to make your business a career instead of going to school?
5. What career are you thinking of? Why?
35


2. At the beginning of the year you said that you though school was /was not
relevant. After participating in this program, has your opinion changed? How?
3. Now that you have tried to start a business, do you think that the process was
easy, hard, or in between?
4. At the beginning of the school year you said that you were / were not interested in
starting a business. Did your interest change over the course of the year? How?
5. At the beginning of the school year you said that you were / were not confident
that you could start and run a business successfully. Did your confidence change
over the course of the year? How?
6. What was the biggest challenge that you faced in starting you business?
7. Do you think that you are better student after participating in the project?
8. Do you think that you will start your own business sometime in the future?
9. What will be most helpful to you in starting a business in the future?
36


APPENDIX D
DROPOUT RATES 1972 2005
Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: October 1972
through October 2005
Percent
Year
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October
(1972-2005).
NOTE: The status dropout rate indicates the percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds who are not
enrolled in high school and who lack a high school diploma or equivalent credential such as a General
Educational Development (GED). Beginning in 2003, respondents were able to identify themselves as
being more than one race. The 2003 through 2005 categories for White, non- Hispanic and Black,
non-Hispanic contain only respondents who indicated just one race. The Hispanic category includes
Hispanics of all races and racial combinations. Because of small sample size for some or all of the
years shown in the figure, American Indians/Alaska Natives and Asian/Pacific Islanders are included
the totals but not shown separately. The more than one race category is also included in the total in
2003 and 2004 but not shown separately because of small sample size. The variable nature of the
Hispanic status rates reflects, in part, the small sample size of Hispanics in the CPS. Estimates
beginning with 1987 reflect new editing procedures for cases with missing data on school enrollment
items. Estimates beginning with 1992 reflect new wording of the educational attainment item.
Estimates beginning with 1994 reflect changes due to newly instituted computer-assisted interviewing.
37


APPENDIX E
Education Pays
Unemployment rate in 2007 (Percent;
Median weekly earnings in 2007 (Dollars)
7.1
1.4-' Doctoral degree
13 Professional degree
18 Master's degree
2 2 Bachelor s degree
30 Associate degree
38 Some college, no degree
44 High school graduate
Less than a high school diploma
Vn.fCf Buir.nt of l.ihor Statistic. \ ( urrt-n! Population Sjrvry
38


APPENDIX F
CONSENT FORMS
Parent Consent for Focus Groups
Date: December 2008
Study Title: Youth Business Development Project: Assessing how
business ownership affects at-risk youths academic achievement
(FOCUS GROUP CONSENT)
Principal Investigator: Charlene Shelton, MPA
Version No: 1
Focus Group Consent
Your child is being asked to participate in a focus group. This form provides
you with information about the focus group. A member of the research team will
describe this focus group to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the
information below and ask questions about anything you dont understand before
deciding whether or not to allow your child to take part.
Why is this focus group being done?
Our research team wants to know whether owning and running a business
affects their academic achievement.
Your child is being asked to be in the focus group because s/he was selected by
his/her teacher or other school administrator as possibly having some ideas about how
to structure a program that teaches students how to start and run their own businesses.
We would like to talk with your child, as well as with other students, about their ideas
about ways to structure a program for young business owners.
What happens if my child joins this focus group?
If your child joins the focus group, he/she will be asked to participate in one
discussion that will last about two hours. The interviewer will be a member of our
research team from the School of Public Affairs and the Department of Sociology at
the University of Colorado Denver. The interview will include specific questions
about your childs views about what characteristics would make for an interesting
program.
39


What are the possible discomforts or risks?
Discomforts your child may experience while participating in this focus group
include embarrassment about speaking in front of a group.
If you would like more information about your childs feelings and concerns,
you may wish to speak directly with your childs teacher or to contact the school
psychologist or social worker at your childs school or in the community. The
interviewer can provide you with a list of names and phone numbers if you wish.
There are no physical risks to your child from participating in this survey.
What are the possible benefits of the focus group?
There are no direct benefits for your child in participating in this focus group.
This focus group is designed for the researchers to learn more about what students
think would be an interesting and productive learning class on owning a business.
Will my child be paid for being in the focus group? Will I have to pay for anything?
Your child will not be paid to be in the focus group. Snacks will be provided.
It will not cost you anything to be in the focus group.
Is my childs participation voluntary?
Taking part in this focus group is voluntary. You have the right to choose not
to allow your child to take part in this focus group. If you choose to have your child
take part, you have the right to stop at any time. If you refuse or decide to withdraw
later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled.
Who do I call if I have questions?
The researcher carrying out this focus group is Charlene Shelton. You may
ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Ms.
Shelton at (303) 315-2496.
You may have questions about your rights as someone in this focus group.
You can call Ms. Shelton with questions. You can also call the Human Subject
Research Committee (HSRC). You can call them at 303-315-2732.
Who will see my research information?
We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed.
Others may look at the records that identify you and the consent forms signed by you.
They are:
Human Subject Research Committee
The group doing the focus group
40


The group paying for the focus group
Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being
conducted who want to make sure the research is safe
Federal agencies that monitor human subjects research
The results from the focus group may be shared at a meeting. The results from the
research will not be in published articles. Your childs name will be kept private
when information is presented.
All information obtained during our focus group will be transferred to computer
files and will be stored in password-protected files on a secure server. Paper records
will be stored in a locked safe or locked file drawer. Your childs name will appear
only on this consent form.
Some things we cannot keep private. If you or your child gives us any
information about child abuse or neglect we have to report that to the division of
Child Protection Services at the Denver Department of Health and Social Services, or
the appropriate county agency. If you or your child tells us you are going to
physically hurt yourself or someone else, we have to report that to the Colorado and
Denver police departments. Also, if we get a court order to turn over your focus
group records, we will have to do that.
Agreement to be in this focus group
I have read this paper about the focus group or it was read to me. I understand
the possible risks and benefits of this focus group. I know that being in this focus
group is voluntary. I choose to be in this focus group: I will get a copy of this consent
form.
Signature:________________________________________ Date:_______________________
Print Name:_______________________________________
Investigator:_____________________________________ Date:_______________________
41


Parent Consent for Study Group
Study Title: Youth Business Development Project: Assessing how business
ownership affects at-risk youths academic achievement (CONSENT TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE STUDY)
Principal Investigator: Charlene Shelton, MPA
Version No: 1
Your son/daughter is being asked to be in a research study. We are also seeking your
permission to access your childs academic records and to interview one of your
childs teachers as part of our research study. This form provides you with
information about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study
to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask
questions about anything you dont understand before deciding whether or not to
allow your son/daughter to take part.
Why is this study being done?
Our research team wants to know whether owning and running a business increases
students engagement in school, improves their grades, and changes the way that
students view themselves.
Your son/daughter is being asked to be in the research study because s/he was selected
from all the students in the business classes as possibly benefitting from becoming a
business owner. We would like to talk with your son/daughter, as well as with your
son/daughters teacher, about his/her experience as a new business owner. Our study
will include a total of 40 children and 20 teachers selected from Martin Luther King Jr.
Early College.
What happens if my son/daughter joins this study?
If your son/daughter joins the study, he/she will be asked to participate in two
interviews that will last about 30 minutes each and will be video taped. He/she will
also be asked to fill out a survey about their self-esteem and their financial literacy at
the beginning and at the end of the study. The interviewer will be a member of our
research team from the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado
Denver. The interview will include specific questions about your son/daughters
views on their education. The surveys will include questions about their self-esteem
and about their financial literacy. No specific questions will be asked about their own
42


familys finances. We will also look at your childs overall grades and attendance.
We will look at their final grades for the 2008 2009 school year and for this school
year.
Finally, we will interview one of your childs teachers. We will include a set of
questions about your son/daughters time at school as part of our interview with one
of your son/daughters teachers. The interview with the teacher will last about 45
minutes and will include talking about your son/daughters experiences in the
classroom. The interviewer will be a member of our research team from the
Department of Sociology at University of Colorado Denver. The interview will
include specific questions about your son/daughters interest in the class, attendance,
and grades. The teacher will describe how he/she thinks starting their own business
influences your son/daughters engagement in the class. The teacher will also
describe how he/she thinks the project has changed your son/daughters attitude
toward school.
The study will last for the entire school year. Your son/daughter will be expected to
attend seminars each week for about 10 weeks at the school that will teach him/her
about how to start and run their own business. The seminars will last approximately
two hours each. He/she will be working with a mentor who will help him/her with all
aspects of starting a business during the school year. Mentors will go through a
background check performed by the Denver Public Schools and Colorado Bureau of
Investigation.
Your son/daughter will write a business plan for their business that may be funded by
a business loan from the Young Americans Bank, or other financial institution. You
will have the option of refusing to accept any funding that is offered. The business
plan will only be funded if the financial institution deems it worthy of funding.
Neither the University of Colorado Denver nor the research team will have any
influence on whether or not the students business plan is funded. If your
son/daughter is offered funding for his/her business, it will be up to you to decide if
you want to accept it, and you will deal directly with the bank.
Conditions for dismissal from the study
The following behavior may result in immediate dismissal from the study. Once
dismissed, the student will not be readmitted.
Drug or alcohol use.
43


Encounters with law enforcement such as arrest for fighting, drinking,, theft,
or other crimes.
Bringing weapons of any kind to any meeting or YBDP event.
Missing more than 2 meetings for any reason.
Threatening, verbally abusing, sexually harassing, or attacking any YBDP
staff, mentor, visitor, or participant.
Suspension or expulsion from school.
What are the possible discomforts or risks?
Discomforts your son/daughter may experience while in this study include
embarrassment regarding the content of some interview questions about your his/her
feelings, or about financial knowledge. He/she may also feel embarrassment at being
in front of a camera. Other potential risks may include frustration at having to rewrite
business documents, or disappointment if their business is not successful.
What are the possible benefits of the study?
There are potential financial benefits for your son/daughter in participating in this
study. This study is designed for the researchers to learn more about how owning a
business influences a students self-esteem and interest in excelling in school and
going to school beyond high school. Students may obtain a benefit if they start a
business that makes a profit for them.
Who is paying for this study?
This study is being paid for by the Lowenstem Family Foundation.
Will my son/daughter be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for
anything?
Your son/daughter will not be paid to be in the study. If students complete the study,
he/she may have a business of their own. It will not cost you anything to be in the
study.
Is my participation voluntary?
Taking part in this study is voluntary. You have the right to choose not to allow your
son/daughter to take part in this study. If you choose to have your son/daughter take
part, you have the right to stop at any time. If you refuse or decide to withdraw later,
you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled.
Who do I call if I have questions?
44


The researcher carrying out this study is Charlene Shelton, MPA. You may ask any
questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Ms. Shelton at
(303)638-0451.
You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can call
Ms. Shelton with questions. You can also call the Human Subject Research
Committee (HSRC). You can call them at 303-315-2732.
Who will see my research information?
We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed.
The records that identify you and the consent forms signed by you may be looked at
by others. They are:
Human Subject Research Committee
The group doing the study
The group paying for the study
Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being
conducted who want to make sure the research is safe
Federal agencies that monitor human subjects research
The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the
research may be in published articles. Your son/daughters name will be kept private
when information is presented.
All information obtained during our interview with your son/daughter will be
transferred to computer files and will be stored in password-protected files on a
secure server. Paper records will be stored in a locked safe or locked file drawer.
Your son/daughters name will appear only on this consent form.
Some things we cannot keep private. If you or your son/daughter gives us any
information about child abuse or neglect we have to report that to the division of
Child Protection Services at the Denver Department of Health and Social Services, or
the appropriate county agency. If you or your son/daughter tells us you are going to
physically hurt yourself or someone else, we have to report that to the Colorado and
Denver police departments. Also, if we get a court order to turn over your study
records, we will have to do that.
45


Agreement to be in this study
I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand the possible
risks and benefits of this study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose
to be in this study: I will get a copy of this consent form.
Students Name: __________________________________________________
Parent Signature:_________________________________________ Date:
Print Name:_______________________________________________________
Student Signature:__________________________________________ Date.
Consent form explained by:_________________________________ Date:
Print Name: ______________________________________________________
Investigator: Charlene Shelton. MPA__________________Date:
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Teacher Consent Form
Study Title: Youth Business Development Project: Assessing how business
ownership affects at-risk youths academic achievement (TEACHER CONSENT TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE STUDY)
Principal Investigator: Charlene Shelton, MPA
Version No: 1
You are being asked to be in a research study. This form provides you with
information about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study
to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask
questions about anything you dont understand before deciding whether or not to
allow your child to take part.
Why is this study being done?
Our research team wants to know whether owning and running a business increases
students engagement in school, improves their grades, and changes the way that
students view themselves.
You are being asked to be in the research study because one of your students was
selected from all the students in the business classes as possibly benefitting from
becoming a business owner. We would like to talk with you about your students
experience in your classroom and how you view their engagement in their academics.
Our study will include a total of 40 students and 20 teachers selected from Martin
Luther King Jr. Early College.
What happens if I join this study?
If you join the study, you will be asked to participate in two interviews that will last
about 30 minutes each. The interviewer will be a member of our research team from
the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Denver. The interview
will include specific questions about your views on your students engagement and
commitment to their academic achievement.
You will be interviewed twice during the school year once at the beginning of the
school year and again near the end of the school year. You will be notified several
weeks before the interview so that you can choose a time and date that is convenient
for you.
47


What are the possible discomforts or risks?
Discomforts you may experience while in this study include embarrassment or
concern regarding the content of some interview questions.
There are no physical risks to you from participating in this survey.
What are the possible benefits of the study?
There are no explicit benefits for you in participating in this study. This study is
designed for the researchers to learn more about how owning a business influences a
students self-esteem and interest in excelling in school and going to school beyond
high school.
Will I be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for anything?
You will not be paid to be in the study. It will not cost you anything to be in the
study.
Is my participation voluntary?
Taking part in this study is voluntary. You have the right to choose not to take part in
this study. If you choose to take part, you have the right to stop at any time. If you
refuse or decide to withdraw later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which
you are entitled.
Who do I call if I have questions?
The researcher carrying out this study is Charlene Shelton, MPA. You may ask any
questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Ms. Shelton at
(303) 638-0451.
You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can call
Ms. Shelton with questions. You can also call the Human Subject Research
Committee (HSRC). You can call them at 303-315-2732.
Who is paying for this study?
This study is being funded by a grant from the Lowenstem Family Foundation.
48


Who will see my research information?
We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed.
The records that identify you and the consent forms signed by you may be looked at
by others. They are:
Human Subject Research Committee
The group doing the study
The group paying for the study
Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being
conducted who want to make sure the research is safe
Federal agencies that monitor human subjects research
The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the
research may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when
information is presented.
All information obtained during our interview will be transferred to computer files
and will be stored in password-protected files on a secure server. Paper records will
be stored in a locked safe or locked file drawer. Your name will appear only on this
consent form.
Agreement to be in this study
I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand the possible
risks and benefits of this study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose
to be in this study. I will get a copy of this consent form.
Signature:______________________________________________ Date._________________
Print Name:_______________________________________
Consent form explained by:_____________________________ Date:_________________
Print Name: ______________________________________
Investigator: Charlene Shelton. MPA______________Date:________________________
49


APPENDIX G
CURRICULUM MODULES
1. STARTING YOU BIZ
Teaches students the basic principle of starting a business and includes a
preview of the following modules.
2 ORGANIZING YOUR BIZ
Information about the different types of business structures, such as sole
proprietor or partnership, and why an entrepreneur would choose one over another.
3 PROMOTING YOUR BIZ
Marketing information that includes simple ideas on how to do market
surveys, assessing the competition, and advertising.
4 FINANCING YOUR BIZ
Information on ways to finance a business including what is needed to apply
for a loan and working with partners.
5 PROTECTING YOUR BIZ
This modules discusses copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.
6. OPERATING YOUR BIZ
Budgeting and descriptions of balance sheets and other financial forms are
included in this module.
7. EVALUATING YOUR BIZ
Students learn about how to evaluate whether or not their business is making
money.
8 PLANNING YOUR BIZ
This module uses all the information gathered in the other seven modules and
walks the student through the creation of an actual business plan.
Young Americans Center for Financial Education
50


APPENDIX H
RELATED ORGANIZATIONS
Teaching entrepreneurship to high school students, while highly
recommended by many organizations, is not yet available in most schools as part of
the regular curriculum. It tends to be relegated to after school clubs, summer
programs, or other extra curricular activities. However, there are a number of
organizations that are working on helping young people engage in entrepreneurship at
varying levels. These organizations range from think tanks to community nonprofits,
from local to national organizations. In Denver, the two most prominent local
organizations are the Young Americans Center for Financial Education (YACFE) and
Youth Biz. National organizations that work directly with young people include
DECA and Junior Achievement (JA). Organizations that work with teachers or
others to encourage the teaching of entrepreneurship include the National Foundation
for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), The Aspen Institute, and the Marion Ewing
Kauffman Foundation. There are many others that work at all levels to bring
entrepreneurship education to students. However, there are no organizations that help
students start and run a new, viable venture as part of the program.
DECA is, according to its website, an international association of high school
and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in
business, finance, hospitality and marketing sales and service (DECA, 2009). With
clubs in hundreds of high schools, DECA allows students to learn about business,
enter competitions, and run a school-based business. While the organization provides
many opportunities for students to participate in forums, conventions, and other
gatherings, students do not get the opportunity to start their own businesses; each
collective business begins and ends each school year. Students do not have the
opportunity to run their own business or keep profits.
Similar to DECA, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is an
organization that attracts high school and college-aged students to continuing
education and careers in business and management by organizing a network of after-
school clubs in high schools and universities nationwide. Junior Achievement is an
international organization that brings business education to students through a
classroom curriculum. According to the web site, JA Worldwide is a partnership
between the business community, educators and volunteers all working together to
inspire young people to dream big and reach their potential. JAs hands-on,
experiential programs teach the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship and
financial literacy to young people all over the world (JA, 2009).
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The Young Americans Center for Financial Education (YACFE) houses the
Young Americans Bank, the only kid bank in the world. Their mission statement
says, Young Americans Center for Financial Education is committed to developing
the financial literacy of young people through real life experiences and hands-on
programs purposefully designed to enable them to prosper in our free enterprise
system (YACFE, 2009). YACFE holds entrepreneurship classes for young people
throughout the summer. During the school year they host schools in their Young
Ameritown facilities, where students run a simulated town and the businesses in it. It
is a hands-on look at how municipalities interact with private business. Young
Americans also holds a contest each year for the Entrepreneur of the Year for young
people between the ages of six and 21. The winners in each category receive $1,000
to put toward their business. YACFE also gives business loans to young people and
supports young business owners in many other ways, including a yearly marketplace
in December for young people to sell their products and services.
The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) trains
educators to teach entrepreneurship in schools. Through licensed partners, the NFTE
curriculum is disseminated to schools and community centers. NFTEs outreach is
directed at low-income youth where programs teach entrepreneurship using its
exciting, experiential curriculum. There are versions for middle school, high school,
and young adult students, with corresponding reading levels and complexity (NFTE,
2009). NFTE holds business plan competitions for young people and a two-week
camp where students learn about starting a business. During the camp students enter
their business plans in a competition with cash prizes. In this way NFTE helps
students start their own businesses, but there is no follow-up to help the students
incubate their enterprises.
A local organization is Denvers Youth Employment Academy (YEA), which
is dedicated to preparing youth for the workforce. They provide job-search training,
math and reading tutelage, career education, internship opportunities, and leadership
training. This organization can be a valuable partner to refer some students for
vocational training, receiving referrals for entrepreneurship training, and partner with
to sponsor youth events.11
Finally, Ashokas Youth Venture website (www.genv.net) provides a network
of young, socially responsible business owners. Using this website, students can
connect with inspiring examples of other youth making a difference in their worlds
through leadership and entrepreneurship.
11 http://www.milehigh.com/eniploymeiit/youthservices/yea
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