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Center for Advanced Professional Studies of the Blue Valley School District "CAPS Incubator"

Overland Park, Kan.

Donna Deeds, executive director

www.bvcaps.org/s/1403/start.aspx

The problem: The Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kan., saw a growing number of students express an interest in creating products and services. And at the same time, its regional business partners said they needed workers with entrepreneurial skills within their workplaces. To address both needs, the school district partnered with industry and entrepreneurship experts, as well as the community, to create the Center for Advanced Professional Studies to provide students with a unique, immersive educational experience resulting in highly skilled, adaptable innovators.

The solution: Since the 2009-10 school year, the CAPS Incubator has trained a bumper crop of young entrepreneurs in all aspects of business and product creation. “CAPS is designed for entrepreneurial-minded students seeking high-tech resources and multitalented teams to innovate and accelerate their ideas,” says Donna Deeds, executive director. “Students from varying backgrounds and interests work together to explore and pursue opportunities such as new product inventions and services, while connecting with a support network to act on those opportunities.”

CAPS is not merely a high school business curriculum. Student entrepreneurs either do freestanding business projects for partner corporations or, in many cases, establish their own businesses. In a few cases, students stay in the facility for a time following graduation to further incubate their businesses. In addition to basic business training, the program also coaches students on business behavior and dress, dealing with investors and making pitches, and exit planning.

The program’s free-standing structure was financed by a local bond issue, with fixtures and equipment paid for through a local levy. Remaining costs are paid through the school district’s general fund. The program has been increasing in enrollment each year and has assisted in the formation of similar programs in ten other schools nationally already, with more planning to start a CAPS-like program.

 

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