An Innovative Approach to Learning


For some young people in Dane County, traditional learning environments fall short, leaving them behind their peers in critical ways that can limit their potential far into the future. Traditional learning also can lack real life applicability and doesn’t generally teach necessary life skills that children may not learn at home. To engage students and help bridge the gap, Dr. Roxie Hentz launched CEOs of Tomorrow, a program designed to empower youth by offering a unique, hands-on approach to learning crucial financial wellness and job-readiness skills through social entrepreneurship programs.

CEOs of Tomorrow developed a recipe for success: take students, nurture their ideas to unlock their entrepreneurial potential, and show them how to make money while also making the world a better place. In the process, CEOs is transforming youth into critical thinkers and confident leaders.

Seeing a transformation in their students’ willingness to learn and recognizing that families may not have the financial capacity or time to participate in after-school programs, CEOs of Tomorrow sought to bring its program directly to Dane County schools.

CEOs planting seeds

In 2021, CEOs of Tomorrow launched its School-Based Entrepreneurship Program with the help of a $30,000 Community Impact grant from MCF. CEOs of Tomorrow chose Badger Rock Middle School and Prairie Phoenix Academy to launch the in-school program because of those schools’ unique learning environments, and the economic and racial make-up of their student populations.

In the eight week-course, students deepened collaboration by creating their own business as a team, building real-world skills in the process. Students brainstorm ideas, create a business plan, make their own product, design logos and flyers, learn to budget, and sell their product to family and peers, splitting the profits. Students also choose a social cause to support and donate a percentage of their profits to a local organization working towards that cause.

CEOs of Tomorrow partners with Rooted Inc. to provide fresh vegetables and herbs and teach culinary skills during the product development stage. It also partners with Summit Credit Union to set up savings accounts and teach financial literacy skills. The program is designed to allow students to gain high school credit by earning a Social Entrepreneurship Digital Badge that demonstrates the skills they learned. These badges can also be used on college applications and shown to potential employers in the future.

The program has now run successfully for three semesters in four schools and has involved 93 students. Emily Fisher, one of the Youth Empowerment Coaches, said, “The greatest impact has been the self confidence boost to our students when they get to see their hard work come to life on launch day, supported by their families, teachers and community.” By uplifting students’ ideas and making them a reality, CEOs of Tomorrow is inspiring the next generation to change the world through business solutions created to benefit society.

Learn more about CEOs of Tomorrow and the programs they offer on their website.

CEOs of Tomorrow Group

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