Sept 28, 2004
Church and community youth workers from Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland and beyond will come to Calvin College October 5-8 to learn how to help teens succeed in business.
Calvin is partnering with both City Vision, a Grand Rapids organization that builds community collaborations, and the Christian Reformed Church's Classis Grand Rapids East to bring Entrenuity training to its campus.
And what exactly is Entrenuity? Simply put, says Carol Rienstra, director of community relations at Calvin, it's "youth business training with a Christian focus."
Based in Oak Park, Illinois, Entrenuity aims to build character and integrity in young people while teaching them the ins and outs of building a business. The company offers several different types of training.
The program at Calvin will be aimed at helping youth and community workers develop the skills needed, so that they in turn can help young people understand the real-life opportunities and risks of being an entrepreneur.
Rienstra says small business training is needed, especially in some of the urban areas from which the youth and community workers coming to Calvin are based. "You see all these small businesses that die off," Rienstra says. The workshops at Calvin, she says, are intended to help businesses thrive.
"If young people learn how to manage money," she says, "it will make a big difference in the families that have grown up in a cycle of poverty."
Several of the youth workers undergoing the Entrenuity training are leaders in Calvin’s Pathways to Possibilities program, which encourages at-risk middle and high school students to pursue post-high school education.
And continued collaboration with Entrenuity could provide internships and service learning opportunities for Calvin students, says Calvin professor of economics and business George Monsma.
Steve Faber, a City Visions representative who worked to bring Entrenuity training to Calvin, believes the program's best measure of success is its impact on children.
"I don't think we're going to change the world," he says, "but it is going to make life better for a whole lot of kids."
Entrenuity co-founder Brian Jenkins and his students have been featured in the Chicago Tribune and Jenkins is a contributing author to the book, "Creating True Wealth: Christian Youth Entrepreneurship." Duane Moyer is the other co-founder of Entrenuity and the author of the "Creating True Wealth" curriculum.
Jenkins and Moyer note that a recent Gallup poll showed nearly 70% of American teenagers indicated they wanted to learn how to start their own business. But studies show that high school seniors only achieve an average score of 40% on basic economic literacy tests.
"These dismal statistics mean," they say, "that many of these teenagers do not have the skills required to succeed in business. We believe that entrepreneurship and business education is an effective way to reverse this trend: teaching teenagers to manage their resources - time, talent and money - enables them to develop the skills necessary to become successful participants within the economic system."