Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas
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Official Youth Entrepreneurs logo
|Founder||The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation|
|Type||Charitable educational organization|
|Focus||Education of "at-risk" students|
|Method||offering specialized classes for high school credit|
Kylie Stupka, Executive Director|
Phoebe Bachura, Development Director
Jill Engstrom, Development Coordinator
|Website||YE official website|
|Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas|
Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas (YEK), also known simply as Youth Entrepreneurs (YE) after expanding to Missouri, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable educational organization based in Wichita, Kansas. The organization states that they aim to educate high school-aged students and program alumni to provide them "with business and entrepreneurial education and experiences to help them prosper and become contributing members of society."
Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas was founded in 1991 by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation as an eight-week course at a Wichita high school, designed to improve the professional potential of at-risk students, an objective which remains a central goal of the organization, although the program is open to all high school students. Since its founding As of 2012[update], however, the organization has expanded to 29 schools in Kansas, and Missouri, and has graduated more than 10,000 students from the program.
Goals and operations
Youth Entrepreneurs states that their major objective is to provide high school students, particularly at-risk students, with business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that will help them prosper and become contributing members of society, by focusing primarily on three important objectives:
- Providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to start their own businesses
- Teaching students how to apply those entrepreneurial skills to become better employees, and
- Encouraging students to continue onto higher education
To work towards their goals, the organization now offers year-round high school classes in which students earn high school credits for learning and applying critical thinking skills and principles of free markets and economics that can help students excel in their careers in the business world, and in their endeavors in higher education.
In addition to earning high school credits, by 2010 YE students could begin earning college credits through YE's partnership with institutions of higher learning like Butler Community College, offering students a chance to "get a head start on their college career". As well as getting ahead in a physical sense by earning college credits, students get a head start in thinking about businesses and entrepreneurial thinking through hands-on training, and helps students more confidently dive into the business world.
Classes that run through the school year are supplemented by summer camps, like the one at Dodge City High School in Dodge City, Kansas provide students with an interactive and exciting way to practice business principles, while competing for cash prizes and receiving feedback for presented business ideas.
In 2011, YE awarded $100,000 in scholarship money to YE alumni to pursue 4-year degrees. YE also supports alumni through mentorship programs, ensuring that they have a support structure including continuing education and networking to aid them in breaking into the business world.
The YE program has been criticized for being a platform to disseminate the Koch philosophy and to sell Charles Koch's book. Charles and his brother David Koch were longtime supporters of the Libertarian Party before becoming Republican kingpins. In 1980 and at the beginning of the Reagan era, the Libertarian platform proposed a drastic revision of the American education system: "We advocate the complete separation of education and state. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended." 
YE High School posters target predominantly poor students with the premise of receiving generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation. YE classes are disguised as typical high school business courses, taught in public schools by a certified teacher. But they are actually guided by Youth Entrepreneurs, with lesson plans and class materials promoting the Koch Industries radical free-market Libertarian ideology. Course information includes: The minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty.
Analysts recognize entrepreneurship as an essential part of economic development, and is especially necessary in areas like the Midwestern United States that have been hit hardest by recent economic recession.
Education analyst Dr. Steve Wyckoff said of YEK's role in the rehabilitation of the economy of the Midwest,
One of the major issues we have in rural America is the shortage of jobs and businesses. If we can find those students across rural America who have a passion that can be applied in a local business, we can grow our own jobs. We're never going to get businesses to move to rural Kansas in sufficient numbers to solve the problem. It's imperative for the survival of rural America that we begin to grow our own jobs.
YEK works in partnership with the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, another international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing entrepreneurship programs to young people from low-income communities.
- "About YE". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "About - Youth Entrepreneurs® Kansas". Koch Family Foundations. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
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- "Business Plan Executive Summary - Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas Offers Credit Through Butler". 12 December 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Way, Allison. "Youth Entrepreneurs: A new generation of business leaders". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Reagan, Mark. "Summer Entrepreneurship camp gives students chance to hone business skills". Dodge City Daily Globe. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
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- "Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students". Huffington Post. 2014-07-16. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
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- Wyckoff, Steve. "Bio - Dr. Steve Wyckoff". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- Wyckoff, Steve. "School change: YEK …. AWESOME!". Real School Change: Questioning Assumptions About Education. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "NFTE partners with these established organizations to bring our innovative curriculum to even more young people across the country". NFTE. Retrieved 17 January 2012.