19 Youth Entrepreneurship Programs (Competitions, Curriculum, and more)

Looking for youth entrepreneurship programs? I’ve got high school entrepreneurship curriculum, entrepreneur competitions, and youth programs.

teens and kids working on airplane model, text overlay "19+ youth entrepreneurship programs for kids and teens"Kids are inherently entrepreneurial. I mean, I don’t know about your kids, but whenever I’m around one (including my own), they point out problems, they focus on one or two that really bugs them, and then they start coming up with all kinds of solutions for it.

Some of those solutions are downright comical, and some make you take a second look. 

Not to mention, they love to earn money and feel like they can earn money from anything! 

I just love their enthusiasm.

So, how do you encourage entrepreneurship in kids and teens? Let me share with you the youth entrepreneurship programs, high school entrepreneurship competitions, and curriculum that will help you nurture that inner entrepreneur in your kids. 

Pssst: Be sure to check out my reviews of kid entrepreneur kits, as well! They could make a great addition to the curriculum and competitions below. 

High School Entrepreneurship Competition

#1: Diamond Challenge Business Competition

Who It’s For: 2-4 High School Students + a Teacher

Financial Aid: N/A

Length of Program: 5-step competition, with a submission round, pitch round, semi-final round, top 18 pick, and Final round
Prizes: 1st Place ($13,000), 2nd Place ($9,000), and 3rd Place ($5,500)

The Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware holds a competition open to student teams comprised of 2 to 4 high school students and one teacher. The two competition tracks are: 

  • Business Innovation
  • Social Innovation 

#2: DECA Idea Challenge

Who It’s For: High School Students

Financial Aid: N/A

Length of Program: Challenge and mystery item announced in Fall; winners chosen following year

Prizes: Yes…but doesn't say what they are

Are your students or kids ready to take the challenge of innovating their way to a totally different way to use a commonplace, everyday item? They'll need to pitch their idea in a 3-minute video.

Youth Entrepreneurship Programs

#1: Acton Children’s Business Fair

Who It’s For: 2-4 High School Students + a Teacher

Financial Aid: Fee Varies by Location

Length of Program: 1-Day Business Fair

Location: 30+ locations around the world

Kids ages 5-15 can participate in this one-day program, selling the goods and services they've created. The poster child for this event is a little four year old girl, who, eight years ago at an Acton Children's Business Fair, sold her Me and the Bees Lemonade (now sold at Whole Foods)! 

She also received an investment from Shark Tank.

#2: Lemonade Day

Who It’s For: 4-5 year olds, all the way up to high school

Financial Aid: N/A

Length of Program: 1-Day Event

Location: 60+ locations around the world

Founded by Michael Holthouse, Lemonade Day is a one day event meant to expose children in K-5th grades to entrepreneurship.The nice thing about this event is that kids don't have to create their own business; they simply create a business plan, set a budget, financial goals, expenses, etc. for running a lemonade stand for one day.

#3: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Who It’s For: 11-18 years

Financial Aid: Free

Length of Program: Varies

Location: In 10 Locations

A former Bronx teacher, Steve Mariotti learned that many street-smart kids at risk of dropping out had skills that translated well to an entreprenuerial mindset. So, he created this program that includes camps, high school classes, and summer programs. 

Business leaders and entrepreneurs volunteer to talk to students, and the program is all about teaching entrepreneurship through kids taking a business concept and finessing it.

There are various programs, such as: 

  • NFTE World Series of Innovation: A project-based, online business competition
  • NFTE Startup Tech: Coding Meets the Entrepreneurial Mindset (classroom program)
  • NFTE Venture (online program)
  • NFTE Entrepreneurship Essentials: Flexible and Modular Content (classroom program)

#4: Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA)

Who It’s For: 6th-12th grades

Financial Aid: $20 application fee + estimated $350 program fee

Length of Program: 1 year

Location: In 168 locations

Over the course of a year, students learn how to generate business ideas, create a business plan, conduct market research, pitch to a panel of investors and launch their own company. This organization has helped over 7,000 students launch over 5,100 businesses. 

One alum of the program has had over $1 million in sales!

Kids also can compete for the Saunders Scholarship and business start-up prize money. 

Psst: looking for a youth entrepreneurship program in India? This one has locations there. 

#5: Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Experience

Who It’s For: High school aged kids

Financial Aid: $8,500 (includes room & board); financial aid is available

Length of Program: 4 weeks

Location: Babson College, Babson MA

Babson College offers a summer study specifically for high school students, which earns them 4 college credits. Students will learn about market trends, business & human rights, and learning how to reframe failure. Entrepreneurs come to speak, and the students also take trips to nearby Boston to tour local companies.

There’s a final pitch each student will make for the business they’ve developed. 

#6: LaunchX

Who It’s For: Students who finished 9th grade, up to recently graduated high school

Financial Aid: Between $7,495 and $7,995 (Financial, need-based, aid available)

Length of Program: 4 weeks

Location: University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and MIT

In this four week experience, students work in a cohort with and industry experts to solve real world problems with products they conceive and build. This program is very selective and has an average of 18% acceptance rate. 

FYI: No college credit is given. 

#7: Youth Entrepreneurship Clinics

Who It’s For

Financial Aid

Length of Program: 12 weeks, 6 hours/week (Youth Tech Clinics) and 6 weeks, 6 hours/week (Youth Entrepreneurship Clinics)

Location: Variety of locations (concentrated in Nebraska)

This relatively short program seeks to tap into youth’s passion and creativity to find solutions to local businesses tech and marketing problems. For example, one group of youth in Nebraska helped a farmer who offered organic, grass fed beef a marketing plan to reach millenials.

#8: Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP)

Who It’s For: Grades 11-12

Financial Aid: Free for students

Length of Program: 6 weeks (2x/week)

Location: San Antonio, TX

LiftFund’s program is designed for 11th and 12th graders who are interested in a career as entrepreneurs.  Students create a business concept, meet with local business owners, attend workshops, and then pitch their ideas in a competition. The top two teams advance and present their ideas to San Antonio’s entrepreneurship community.

High School Entrepreneurship Curriculum

#1: Youth Entrepreneurs

Who It’s For: Students

Financial Aid: Schools pay for this program, with the cost based on how many students get free and reduced lunches

Length of Program: 1 year

The first semester of the course, students focus on economics. The second semester, they focus on starting their own businesses. The class is open to all high school students, is an elective, and has no prerequisites.

#2: Diamond Challenge Business Curriculum

Who It’s For: Kids and teens

Financial Aid: Free

Length of Program: 14 modules

This is a video business curriculum program that kids, teens, and students can go through. It includes instructional guides to each business module, and covers the following information: 

  • What is Entrepreneurship? 
  • Opportunity Recognition
  • Opportunity Screening
  • Ideation
  • Types of Businesses
  • Building a Business like a Scientist
  • Using a Business Model Canvas
  • Etc. 

They also offer a Social Curriculum track that’s 6 video modules long, including: 

  • What is Social Entrepreneurship? 
  • Wicked Problems and Grand Challenges
  • Social Entrepreneurship Processes and Challenges
  • Etc. 

#3: INCubateredu

Who It’s For: 10th and 12th graders

Financial Aid: Free (at schools where it’s available)

Length of Program: 1 year (followed by acceleratoredu for the 2nd year)

Uncharted Learning’s program is designed for 10th to 12th graders to develop their own business, pitch their idea at a shark-tank style event, and hopefully receive funding. A second year program, acceleratoredu, helps students take their business from start up to launch.

#4: WIT: Whatever It Takes

Who It’s For: 10th and 12th graders

Financial Aid: $2,525 (but students leave the program with 6 college credits).  Financial aid is available, and 30% of students receive it. WIT hackathons cost $99 per event.

Length of Program: 9 months (extracurricular program) — Twice/month for 2 hours at a time (6:00-8:00 p.m.)

Location: In Schools in San Diego, New York, Austin, and St. Louis

Students learn business & entrepreneurial skills as well as public speaking, active listening, and time management. Students can also participate in one-day hackathons, which are an 8 hour event that allows teens to create a solution for a problem in their city and learn how to implement that solution.

Students who participate in WIT will leave the program with six college credits from UCSD. 

#5: JA BE Entrepreneurial®

Who It’s For: Grades 9-12

Financial Aid: Free for students

Length of Program: 7, 45-minute sessions

Location: Anywhere

This is Junior Achievement’s Entrepreneurial program for high school students, run through schools. The course will teach students how to create a business plan, and then will help them start an entrepreneurial venture.

Lessons covered include: 

  • What’s My Business?
  • Who’s My Customer?
  • What’s My Advantage?
  • Competitive Advantages
  • Ethics are Good for Business
  • The Business Plan

#6: JA Company Program Blended Model

Who It’s For: Grades 9-12

Financial Aid: Free for students

Length of Program: 13 classes (2 hours/class), or as a 1-year program with 26 classes (1 hour/class)

Location: Anywhere (online course)

This program is delivered online to high school students, and seeks to teach them how to solve a problem or fill a need in their community through an entrepreneurial spirit. The program can be offered in school or after school.

Lessons include: 

  • Start a Business
  • Vet the Venture
  • Create a Structure
  • Launch the Business!
  • Run the Business
  • Etc. 

There’s a national competition involved with this (if the area JA office has signed up for it). 

#7: Venture Lab

Who It’s For: Grades 1-12

Financial Aid: (Free for non-commercial use) Curriculum that organizations can purchase to use with students

Length of Program: 90 minute lessons

Location: N/A

Venture Lab offers a curriculum suited for 1st – 12th graders (curriculum is divided into lower elementary, upper elementary, and middle school/high school.) This is a course in a box with all of the lesson plans already completed and is meant to be utilized as part of regular coursework, after school programs, or camps. 

Its focus is on teaching girls other components of entrepreneurship such as STEAM concepts and design thinking.

#8: Youth About Business

Who It’s For: 10-18 years

Financial Aid: $5,000 (for entire program); 80% of students receive financial aid

Length of Program: 90 minute lessons

Location: Tennessee, New York, Illinois, Georgia, Texas

This program has multiple components such as summer camps, Wall Street Conference, and a year-round Youth About Business Leadership Development Program. The entrepreneurial program is developed for youth ages 10 to 18. Students can also go on to business camps (once they have completed at least one year of high school.) The one week business camp culminates in a one week trip to Wall Street. Students can also join the year-round Youth about Business Leadership Development Program where they develop leadership skills and learn more about businesses.

Elementary School Entrepreneurship Curriculum

#1: Student, Inc.

Who It’s For: Kids and teens

Financial Aid: Free (Part of a Charter School)

Length of Program: K-12

Location: Austin, TX Magnet School Program

Crockett Early College High School’s pilot program has been active for two years, with 4 different schools and 800 students having participated in it. It’s the first program to introduce, practice, and evolve entrepreneurial skills starting in Kindergarten and going all the way up to 12th grade. 

In just the first two years of the program, 4 different student ventures created from this program earned $9K for their ideas!

#2: Venture Lab

Who It’s For: Grades 1-12

Financial Aid: (Free for non-commercial use) Curriculum that organizations can purchase to use with students

Length of Program: 90 minute lessons

Location: N/A

Venture Lab offers a curriculum suited for 1st – 12th graders (curriculum is divided into lower elementary, upper elementary, and middle school/high school.) This is a course in a box with all of the lesson plans already completed and is meant to be utilized as part of regular coursework, after school programs, or camps. 

It’s focus is on teaching girls other components of entrepreneurship such as STEAM concepts and design thinking.

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