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Area programs prepare high school students

Kansas City has a stated goal of becoming the most entrepreneurial city in the nation. At the same time, business owner baby boomers are reaching retirement age and need to hand off their companies to a new generation of leaders.

Generation Z, currently in high school and college, is starting to enter the workforce. Programs throughout the metro are ensuring that the pipeline of future business owners and entrepreneurial thinkers stays full by showing high school students what it means to be an entrepreneur.

The CAPS program, which started in the Blue Valley district and has shared the model with other school districts, has “strands,” or concentrations. The accelerator strand includes an entrepreneurship class taught by Mike Farmer, a founder of startup Leap2 and Techstars entrepreneur-in-residence.

Farmer said his goal is to teach a “growth mindset.” Rather than lecturing on business tenets, his students spend a semester working toward bringing a concept to market. Farmer lays out the timeline, but most of the classwork is student-led.

“Much of what I talk about, the way I teach, is show, don’t tell,” he said.

Farmer used the analogy of dribbling a basketball: It’s easier to give students the ball and let them figure it out than to explain it. “That encourages them to be resourceful and to connect their own dots.”

Connecting the dots builds that mindset of problem-solving, he said, that can apply to any situation.

“The elegance of this is it can serve the person who wants to go right to work, and students applying to highly competitive schools can differentiate themselves,” Farmer said. Read more.