Can High School Students Become Social Entrepreneurs?

From mid-career professionals to high school students, social entrepreneurship is changing the way and the why people work. Social entrepreneurship is about applying the skills of an entrepreneur to solve social problems.  Have you ever bought shoes from Toms?  Then you’ve purchased something from a social enterprise. Heard of Teach for America? Also social entrepreneurship–of a different sort.  As we prepare young leaders for future careers and impact, we especially need to train future social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs are equipped to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow, and that’s why our global innovators summer trips are designed to give them the skills and ideas to impact the world. In the past twenty years, many businesses have latched onto an important revelation: There is nothing as powerful as a new idea in the hands of an entrepreneur: a passionate problem solver who wants to start something to address this issue. Developing these passions requires engaged high school students inside and outside of the classroom.

What do social entrepreneurs do?

Social entrepreneurs pride themselves on tackling anything from education to sustainable food chainsand offering new ideas for wide-scale change.  Rather than relying on the government alone to tackle social problems, social entrepreneurs solve problems themselves by addressing the root of the cause and changing the system according to the needs of the people they hope to serve.  They are able to spread solutions and persuade entire societies to shift through marketing campaigns, products, business, nonprofits, and more.

It’s no coincidence that we are passionate about training future social entrepreneurs: Our company,Atlas Workshops, is a social enterprise itself. We think that travel can inspire world changing ideas and innovations — each trip leads to creative answers to global questions and future social entrepreneurs. There are plenty of tour companies with a mission to make money and help people travel–our mission is about building a global network of changemakers, with the skills, and ideas to tackle all sorts of different issues. On our high school programs, our goal is for our students to come away from our trips with inspiration, curiosity, skills, and connections and so far we have been blown away with the success.

How Will our Trips Prepare Future Social Entrepreneurs?

This summer, Atlas Workshops is leading fourGlobal Innovators trips that will help students realize their full potential as creators of social change.  Our trips will take place in India, Croatia, Berlin and Prague, and Scandinavia.

In India, our high school students will become healthcare entrepreneurs as we learn about how companies are helping transform the field of medicine with innovative technologies. Learning from local social entrepreneurs, we will think about what technology and enterprises can make access to healthcare more available in both cities and villages in the country.

In Croatia, our student social entrepreneurs will support small businesses as they balance financial, environmental and cultural sustainability. We will develop our own business model for an island while still preserving the natural beauty and history of the place.

In Berlin and Prague we will study technology and its impact on cities.  Our social entrepreneurs will think about both the social side and the technical side of new innovations. We will create our own interventions that make cities more inclusive–and tackle one of the fastest growing issues in Europe and the US.

In Scandinavia, our high school students will think about social enterprise for sustainable transportation: bike riding. We will investigate the Swedish and Danish transit systems in an effort to bring back durable and creative ideas to our home communities in the U.S.  Our students will have the tools to think critically about transportation, from infrastructure to marketing, and how it affects the lives of citizens globally.

How Will These Trips Prepare Students to Be Social Entrepreneurs?

Social entrepreneurship isn’t limited to any one field, and so on all of our trips, our students will leave with the same toolkit for creative problem solving and the connection into the global network of Atlas Workshops alums and changemakers around the world. We think that students can achieve large scale, systemic and sustainable social change, and we want to prepare them to do this.

At the core, Atlas Workshops is about Social Entrepreneurship. From our students, who are developing the skills, ideas and networks for their own enterprises, to the company itself, which is driven by a mission too. Social entrepreneurs are changing the world around us, and there is no reason high school students can’t start changing the world too.