KEENStart (the Kentucky Entrepreneurship Education Network, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation focused on entrepreneurship education. We operate the Governor's School for Entrepreneurs.
Our programs inspire and inform the next generation of business creators and leaders. Our objective is to nurture and grow the entrepreneurial spirit in those who attend our programs.
Entrepreneurship is a journey full of twists and turns. KEENStart brings a framework to the process, and through our uniquely designed learning programs we help prepare Kentucky students for success in college and career. We purposefully challenge them to view the world through the lens of entrepreneurial thinking.
Understanding entrepreneurship can have far reaching impact. Small and independent businesses are the backbone of Kentucky’s communities with over 90% of businesses in Kentucky being small businesses. At KEENStart programs young people experience what it takes to be successful. The knowledge they gain better prepares them for college and for careers as future business and community leaders and entrepreneurs.
KEENStart was organized in November 2015 to take over operations of the Kentucky’s Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) in 2016. GSE is a statewide summer program in operation since 2013. In April 2016 KEENStart received its tax exempt status, and as of July 1, 2016 state funding for GSE is provided through the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
KEENStart was established by the creator of the GSE program. GSE remains under the management of its original founding director.
KEENStart has adopted sound accounting policies and procedures and maintains strong internal controls. KEENStart requires a full annual compilation of its financial statements to ensure that they are fairly presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
Understanding entrepreneurship has far reaching impact. Small and independent businesses are the backbone of Kentucky’s communities with over 90% of businesses in Kentucky being small businesses. The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE) prepares young people for college and for careers as future business and community leaders and entrepreneurs. Students see the real-world uses for math, science and writing. GSE provides a safe environment for them to take risks with their ideas in an effort to create something meaningful. GSE pushes students beyond their self-conceived limits of thinking and doing. There is a strong emphasis on social responsibility and global thinking.
On a personal level, GSE gives students
“GSE changed my way of thinking in everyday situations and how I face challenges with myself or with a group.”
“I am incredibly thankful the opportunities and challenges GSE afforded me and everyone else. The program taught me so many new skills and introduced me to so many amazing people.”
“[GSE] helped me realize my full potential as an entrepreneur and leader of my community. …The program was my form of expression.”
“I learned the basics of starting a business, how to be confident [and] how to be a good speaker.”
Of the GSE alumni who have graduated high school, 100% of those who reported to us are enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year college. Most of them have received scholarships.
I am often challenged with the question, “can you teach entrepreneurship?” The answer is yes.
Teaching entrepreneurship has been likened to teaching music or art. The best music conservatory or design school can’t guarantee it will produce the next Yo-Yo Ma or Claude Monet, but years of study and practice certainly honed and perfected their innate creative genius. Likewise there is evidence that great entrepreneurs possess certain traits that guide their success. In 2014 the Gallup Organization released an assessment report identifying ten inherent behaviors and talents it determined entrepreneurial individuals were likely to possess. Yet when it assessed the personalities of top well known entrepreneurs who founded highly successful companies, it found that no single person was strong in all ten traits.
Everyone can benefit from nurturing their innate talents through methods and practices taught in entrepreneurship programs like GSE. Successful entrepreneurs tend to look at the world differently through a lens of spotting problems, asking “why” and identifying solutions. GSE purposefully challenges students to view the world through this lens. Entrepreneurship is interdisciplinary with a strong focus on critical thinking. There is no rulebook for turning ideas into opportunities. It is a constant and never ending series of decisions. Many genius entrepreneurs went through trial and error with one or more ideas before landing on their big success story. Elements of timing and luck are woven into every great success story, but even those elements are often the result of recognizing an opportunity or deciding to take a risk at a certain moment. And these so-called soft skills can be honed.
This is especially important because today most people will no longer spend their careers in a single industry let alone job, and over the next decade many will probably be self-employed as the gig economy expands. A survey of millennials by Bentley University showed that 66% expected to start a business some day and 37% preferred to work independently (i.e., gig). So learning a few entrepreneurship basics before entering the workforce will increase the likelihood of personal success. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit then you will have the courage to redefine yourself and find new opportunities. I call this rolling with the economic tide. As Kentucky struggles with lost industries (you know the ones I’m talking about) who better than entrepreneurial-minded, tech savvy young people to ride the tide and redefine their communities.
Ms. Daugherty began her career in a startup (way before it was cool) and has been involved with business in a multifaceted capacity for over 25 years. Her experience extends from small business ownership and management, to advising fortune 500 companies on corporate transactions, to managing a small seed capital fund and a statewide network of entrepreneurship service providers. She is currently the founder and President of KEENStart, a nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship education. In 2013 Ms. Daugherty applied startup methodology to take GSE from idea stage through implementation. Her undergraduate degree is in Business Administration from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and she earned a law degree with distinction from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
GSE is a 3-week accelerator-style, residential summer program for motivated, free-thinking teens interested in creating and building ideas. In just three short weeks, teams develop a business model, design a prototype, and pitch their startup to an interested audience.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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