Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs taking applications for next session

Published 2:33 pm Thursday, September 29, 2016

LEXINGTON — Next summer’s session of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs will take place from June 25 through July 16, 2017.
Students in 9th, 10th and 11th grade apply online at Applications are due by January 4, 2017 and selections will be announced in April 2017. Students who attend GSE earn digital badges, class credit and scholarships to Kentucky colleges and universities.
GSE is a program under the Education and Workforce Cabinet. Cabinet Secretary, Hal Heiner, says he is “very excited about the formal establishment of the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs under our cabinet. This innovative program equips students with valuable knowledge and experience, and I believe it will help to cultivate the next generation of Kentucky business, economic and civic leaders.”
So far 220 students from around the state have graduated from GSE. Students who attend GSE develop 21st century workplace skills and become more independent and ready for college.
“I learned more at GSE than I had probably at school ever. It introduces you to business and entrepreneurship firsthand in an amazing program. It has had a huge impact on my life and my future aspirations,” said Drake Witt, a summer 2015 participant and now a senior at Bryan Station High School in Lexington.
GSE provides an opportunity for Kentucky’s free-thinking teens to develop their ideas for products and services in a hands on, exploratory environment. It is free for students to attend and there is no GPA or test score requirement to get in. GSE strives to offer a highly diverse, open and inclusive environment where collaborative learning can take place.
Young entrepreneurs spend three weeks in the summer immersed in learning about design-thinking and business models.  They engage in an authentic, “real world” startup experience.
In June the young entrepreneurs went to Louisville to hear Steve Case, founder of AOL, who told them: “The program you’re a part of is terrific. …[I]t’s important to inspire people to be creative and think about the world in new ways.”
On the final day of GSE, the business teams pitch their businesses to a panel of outside judges with the top placing teams earning a spot to pitch at Lexington’s SPARK event for $1000 in cash awards. This year’s two award-winning teams at SPARK were Barko Polo, a toy for dogs with sensory disabilities, and MarGuard, a protective covering for band instruments. MarGuard’s Corbin Werner, Othniel Stockler, Tanner Wright and Ben Estes applied together from Barren County High School. Barko Polo’s Emma Harper from Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, AJ Vowels from DeSales High School in Louisville, Yufei Wang from Assumption High School in Louisville and Miguel Luster from Boyle County High School, met each other on the first day of GSE.
“We are providing opportunities for Kentucky’s young people to see themselves as leaders who can create strong enterprises and communities,” said Laurie Daugherty, GSE’s founding director and President of KEENStart, the nonprofit organization that operates GSE. “Aligning GSE with the Education Cabinet opens up possibilities for us to grow GSE to meet demand. We receive many more applications from qualified students than we can accept and we want to change that.”
GSE relies heavily on private donations to support its educational program. Over 60% of its annual budget comes from private donations and sponsorships. Selected students attend at no cost.
Past sessions of GSE have been made possible by the financial and in-kind support of many, including the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Georgetown College, Lexmark International, James R. Boyd, Halliburton, Big Ass Solutions, Chrysalis Ventures, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Snowy Owl Foundation, Hardscuffle, Inc., the James Graham Brown Foundation, and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation. Donate online at

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