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Op-ed: Creating New Leaders Through Entrepreneurship

posted on August 23, 2017 by Moises Padilla

Entrepreneurship High School SummitEntrepreneurs drive the economy and account for the majority of the nation’s new job creation. Almost 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs in the U.S. are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four. In 2005 a poll by Junior Achievement found that nearly 70 percent of teenagers interviewed wanted to be entrepreneurs. The question is: how do you start to create meaningful curriculum around this need? How do you foster an environment that creates and nurtures a creative spirit in our youth? Our plan is to create an entrepreneurship-focused, learning-by-doing school dedicated to creating new leaders by tapping the local wisdom of community and industry partners here in Albuquerque.

Entrepreneurship Leadership High School (ELHS) is committed to serving disenfranchised students and families in order to address pressing economic and educational needs in New Mexico. Nationally, high school students from low-income families drop out of school at six times the rate of their peers, and only 9 percent of low-income teens are employed, according to a 2011 Harvard University study. For every 100 low-income students who start high school, only sixty-five will receive high school diplomas, and only forty-five of those enroll in college. New Mexico has the third highest drop out rate in the country and we know that education and employability are linked. The Brookings Institution found that sixteen through nineteen year-olds are only employed at 26 percent, the lowest rate since World War II (Quigley, Albuquerque Journal March, 2014.)

Entrepreneurship Leadership High School wants to change this reality. At ELHS, students will learn through Project-Based Learning, rely on 360° support, and community engagement. With the expertise of the ELHS staff, the New Mexico Center for School Leadership, and our network of national experts, we will develop projects in collaboration with local entrepreneurs. While jumping into business and degree programs in the entrepreneurship sector can be intimidating and foreign environments to many low-income youth from the South Valley and Southwest Mesa, ELHS will build pathways through an educational platform that connects youth, their families and communities with high-growth employers.

As an educator who was born and raised in the southwest quadrant of Albuquerque, I am excited to introduce Entrepreneurship Leadership High School as a vehicle for success and empowerment. By working with comprehensive public schools, local non-profits, and the thriving entrepreneurial sector we will provide our youth an opportunity to be creative, imaginative, and generate the knowledge and skills to enact meaningful change in their communities and in their lives.

Moises Padilla
Executive Director
Entrepreneurship Leadership High School

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