Students in Santa Monica are preparing to take on the entrepreneurial world with hands-on experience part of a new cooperative educational initiative that links youth with Silicon Beach leaders.
Pacifica Christian School launched the Minchin Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MCIE) as part of their 2016 curriculum with the aim to equip young people with real-world business and life skills.
“The Minchin Center will challenge students to become entrepreneurial and innovative leaders who take initiative, tackle complex problems, develop a broad vision for the future, and aspire to make a lasting impact on society and culture,” explained Kevin Kirchner, Pacifica COO and senior faculty member.
Kirchner has been developing the program for the past year with the help of a team of local entrepreneurs, business leaders, and educators from across the country.
“Through challenging curriculum, courses, and co-curricular programs, MCIE exposes students to the business world with topics such as entrepreneurship, economics, finance, design thinking, and technology,” Kirchner said.
Incorporating project-based learning, Kirchner added that the students are so far enjoying a break from “traditional” classes.
“I love working with real companies on real projects and meeting entrepreneurs,” said senior student Maddie Reasner after taking part.
MCIE complements Pacifica’s liberal arts core curriculum, with Kirchner hoping that it will inspire other institutions to follow.
“It’s critical for 21st century educators to provide experiential learning environments where students can learn to collaborate and creatively solve problem,” Kirshner said.
Hands-on learning with real world projects provides an ideal scenario where students have to deal with ambiguity, organize projects, communicate effectively, but also have safe environment to learn from failure, he added.
Entrepreneurship involves learning to think in ways that expand our worldview, to see many possibilities and opportunities, to be appropriately risk tolerant, and to solve problems creatively, Kirchner explained.
“To actively shape the future, we must be bold in our thinking and doing,” he added. “Students enter an environment where they face what an entrepreneur faces: ambiguity, unclear expectations, and unknown solutions. They must work to solve a unique problem.”
Complementing the program is a guest speaker series, aimed at introducing students to the ideas and perspectives of accomplished professionals.
Local start-ups and business leaders can provide real-world case studies and problems, Kirchner said, assembling an array of Santa Monica professionals to help the students.
By drawing on real-world examples, and then trying things themselves, students learn to make sound decisions and communicate effectively, managing their time and managing their projects from beginning to end, he said.
For more information on the program, or to get involved, head to pacificachristian.org/mcie
“We are always open to new partnerships and speakers, and we are excited to see this first year of the program off to a great start,” Kirchner added.