Grant Funds In-school Entrepreneurship and Business Program for Middle School Students Nationwide
NEW YORK, April 16, 2015 — Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) announced that it will be expanding its efforts to create tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs by piloting a VE Junior Ventures Career Academy for middle school students with the support of $1 million, four-year grant from the New York Life Foundation. The VE-JV Career Academy will immerse middle school students in hands-on entrepreneurial and work-based learning experiences that enable them to explore career pathways and begin developing business skills from a young age. The VE-JV Career Academy builds on VEI’s long-standing partnership with the New York Life Foundation and success in putting tens of thousands of high school students on the path to college and career through a live global business simulation that transforms students into business executives and classrooms into office environments.
An in-school program facilitated by classroom teachers, the VE-JV Career Academy will begin in the seventh grade by engaging students in real-world business projects that build applied technology skills. Eighth graders will create and run simulated companies that replicate the functions and demands of a real business. Middle school students will receive business coaching from VEI’s business partners, including employees from New York Life, as well as high school students in the VEI program.
In addition to building early career awareness about a variety of professions and the expectations of today’s workplace, the VE-JV Career Academy will provide opportunities for students to develop 21st century skills in problem solving, decision-making, time management, public speaking, financial literacy, teamwork, and applied technology. Extended learning opportunities will be integrated into the VE-JV experience and will include a Summer Business Leadership Camp for rising 8th graders hosted at a local college, where students will be introduced to the basic concepts of entrepreneurship, develop a concept paper for new a business, and pitch their business idea to college faculty and mentors serving as “investors.”
“As we work to close the skills gap in the U.S. workforce through greater innovation in education, it’s critical that our efforts begin from a young age,” said Iris Blanc, VEI’s Executive Director. “By and large, few opportunities are available to middle school students to engage in learning that connects with their future pathways in the workforce. VEI is proud to be partnering with the New York Life Foundation to take a major step forward in our efforts to address career readiness.”
“We are pleased to support VEI’s program expansion into the middle school grades, which are a critical time for students and a key focus of the New York Life Foundation,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer at the Foundation. “All the educational research shows that these are make or break years for students in setting their course through high school and into postsecondary pathways. The VE-JV Career Academy will help young people from diverse backgrounds build a vision for their future and gain the skills and confidence needed to succeed in school and fulfilling careers.”
The VE-JV program will launch in New York City in 2015 with at least two additional cities being selected as expansion sites between 2016 and 2018. In New York City, the pilot sites will include William McKinley IS 259 (Brooklyn), In-Tech Academy MS/HS 368 (Bronx), and MS 137 America’s School of Heroes (Queens). NYL’s funding will allow VEI to serve nearly 1,000 middle school students over the next four years and position the organization for further expansion. The launch of the VE-JV program falls within VEI’s larger plans to scale-up a middle school-to-college continuum of programming over the next several years.
About Virtual Enterprises International
A national non-profit, VEI transforms students into business professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset by bringing the workplace into the classroom. The organization currently serves 11,000 high school students in 350 schools across 18 states through its live global business simulation. In a year-long, credited course that leverages innovative technology platforms, VEI students establish and run simulated businesses that engage in trade as part of a dynamic global economy of 5,000 student-run companies worldwide. Students conduct market research, develop and write a business plan, design and implement an e-commerce website, and recruit and market to clients and customers. Regional and national business plan competitions and trade shows allow students to network with other VE companies in person and apply and hone their business and communication skills. In addition to giving students a head start on jobs and careers, VEI reinforces students’ academic skills and achievement, reignites their interest in education, and raises their desire to graduate and pursue lifelong learning.
About The New York Life Foundation
Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided $200 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees, agents, and retirees of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good program. To learn more, please visit www.newyorklifefoundation.org.