Entrepreneurial leadership is a powerful tool that—if learned and harnessed—can be a vehicle of economic and social change.
To do that, organizations and individuals must think boldly and form partnerships that will instill an entrepreneurial mindset and motivation in today’s youth to go out and solve tomorrow’s problems.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) does just that.
NFTE builds startup skills in youth, ages 11–18, from under-resourced communities to ensure their success and create a more vibrant society. With its entrepreneurship curriculum, NFTE works with high school students—and their teachers—throughout the academic year to propose and launch real businesses.
The commitment to developing young entrepreneurial leaders by Babson and NFTE has led to a proud, logical partnership, one that directly changes lives and offers hope and opportunity to today’s youth.
“At Babson, we are committed to developing entrepreneurial leaders and lifelong learners everywhere,” said Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, “NFTE is a great partnership for Babson—to build the entrepreneurial mindset in young people, and work with young leaders who are going to change the world.”
Together, Babson and NFTE bring entrepreneurship training, mentoring, and support into local area high schools, and host business plan competitions on the Babson campus.
“It’s very much the same as what Babson teaches in terms of helping learners think about how to capitalize on ideas to fulfill some type of unmet need, either in the marketplace, or more broadly in society,” said Babson Senior Lecturer in Organizational Behavior Jack McCarthy MBA’82.
McCarthy teaches leadership courses within the specialized Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MSEL) graduate program at Babson. He also conducts research and consults on leadership, creativity, entrepreneurship, and global sustainability. McCarthy received the individual NFTE Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019.
Each fall, McCarthy takes his students into high schools to conduct workshops for the NFTE students, reviewing business plans and offering feedback. The Babson students then return again each spring, and offer refinement of the same business plans after four months of evolution.
“A lot of Babson students are moved by these sessions, and a lot of high school students really come away much more hopeful about making their way in the world.”
Babson Senior Lecturer in Organizational Behavior Jack McCarthy
“From a curriculum point of view, I use NFTE as a way to help build my students’ coaching skills as part of their development as an entrepreneurial leader,” McCarthy said, “but they also transfer technical skills in terms of what good business building might look like.”
Through sessions like this, McCarthy and his students are able to make connections with high school students that have a lasting impact.
“A lot of Babson students are moved by these sessions, and a lot of high school students really come away much more hopeful about making their way in the world,” he said.
This year, Babson won the Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award for NFTE’s New England Region for efforts around board work, hosting events, and making a tangible difference in the lives of youth. The award was accepted by Associate Professor and Division Chair in Marketing Lauren Beitelspacher.
“This definitely aligns with the strategic plan of engaging lifelong learners because the main tenant of the NFTE curriculum is developing the entrepreneurial mindset, so it’s a natural fit,” she said.
Beitelspacher teaches a popular Retailing Management course and conducts research in buyer-supplier relationships, retail management, and the retail supply chain. She also serves on the NFTE board, offering a pedagogical perspective to its heroic efforts.
“Working with NFTE students is one of the things I most enjoy, and I have been fortunate to get to know many of them and their awesome teachers,” she said.
The connection doesn’t stop there. “There are scholarships for NFTE students to come here,” Beitelspacher said. “They’re really a great group of kids, and they already have an appreciation for that entrepreneurial mindset and what it means to be an entrepreneurial leader.
“These young people who are coming through the NFTE program are learning to identify opportunities, be adaptive, and be resilient.”
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