An Entrepreneurial Education is the Key to Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Challenges
The following post was authored jointly by Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, and Ayele Shakur, CEO of BUILD.org – a national nonprofit whose mission is to use entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them to high school, college, and career success.
After all we have witnessed over the past year, it has never been more important to teach our next generation the skills that will carry them through the many unknown challenges that lie ahead. In a survey conducted by EdWeek about the top skills U.S. companies think students need post-pandemic, the key themes of empathy, resilience, creativity, and problem-solving were echoed by leading business leaders and CEOs. We know it is today’s students who we will look to as tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and problem solvers. Our future resilience depends on how well we prepare our youth today. However, our 19th century industrial-age education system is a one-size-fits-all solution that is no longer relevant in the rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in.
The pandemic has exacerbated many of our education system’s deficiencies – especially the ways in which underserved students of color are left behind and lack the necessary resources for success. According to a study by McKinsey & Co on COVID-19 and learning loss, the pandemic has left students on average four to eight months behind in learning, with students of color being behind as much as six to twelve months. Addressing this inequality – and adequately preparing students to reach their full potential – will require a fundamental shift in how we approach education, as well as a focused commitment to ensuring equitable access to critical resources.
Providing the learning support necessary to develop skills for success in an increasingly digital world, as well as fostering entrepreneurial thinking, are two approaches that will have a lasting impact on our future leaders. For example, Ay’Anna Moody, Director of Social Impact & Generation Thrive at the Warriors Community Foundation, credits her leadership and career path to her high school’s BUILD.org entrepreneurship class in East Oakland, California. In this class, Ay’Anna launched Dizzy Inc., her own business, while learning communication, problem-solving, and collaboration that helped strengthen her entire education and career.
The tenacity and grit that Ay’Anna developed through her entrepreneurial education, drove her personal vision and dreams to reality – attending UCLA and earning her Master’s degree at Columbia University before coming full circle to work in the Oakland Mayor’s Office and support the Oakland Unified School District.
Every student, like Ay’Anna, needs – and deserves – an education that prepares them with the skills for tomorrow, they must have opportunities to develop and practice problem-solving, communication, and collaboration – skills that can be honed through an entrepreneurial education.
BUILD.org and Comcast NBCUniversal are proud to partner and provide free, culturally-responsive digital entrepreneurship curriculum to inspire high school students nationwide to create innovative solutions to today's greatest challenges. Together, we are committed to advancing digital equity, especially through creating greater access to digital education and resources for students, teachers, and communities who need it the most. We believe in the importance of investing in diverse future leaders who are challenged to think creatively, collaborate effectively, and create meaningful change in their local and global communities.
With billions of dollars coming to public education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, now is the time to act. To best serve students and more fully incorporate entrepreneurial, experiential learning into curricula across the nation, leaders – as well as fellow corporations – must redouble their commitments to ensuring students have access to the digital tools, resources, and opportunities they need to build a future that benefits generations to come, no matter what zip code they live in. Together, we can build a 21st century education system that creates a pipeline of innovative and empowered leaders ready to face whatever challenges come their way.
Partnerships with organizations like BUILD.org are part of Project UP, our comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of Unlimited Possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators. Learn more about Project UP.