Students Engage in Unique Leadership Program
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, New London-Spicer, and Willmar Public Schools along with area business leaders have collaborated to give 17 high school students a unique opportunity. These students are participating in the first Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) class in Minnesota.
CEO creator Craig Lindvahl presented the structure of the program to Minnesota at a workshop cosponsored by SWIF and other Minnesota Initiative Foundations. Lindvahl emphasized the importance of connecting today’s young adults—generally defined as the millennial generation—with entrepreneurial opportunities, especially in smaller towns and communities.
Thanks to a partnership with Pioneer Public Television, this workshop has aired numerous times on local Pioneer stations in southwest and west central Minnesota communities over the last year and is available online at www.pioneer.org.
Gary Geiger, a Willmar business leader and former SWIF board member, along with Craig Holmgren, a Willmar business owner, have been instrumental in establishing the Kandiyohi County CEO program and recruiting business leaders.
“When we presented CEO to the local business people we found acceptance and a willingness to become involved with donations of money, time as mentors, and facilities for classrooms,” Geiger said.
SWIF provided an initial $10,000 grant to the Willmar Area Community Foundation to establish CEO in Kandiyohi County. Additionally, 50 supporting businesses have committed to $3,000 each over a three-year period.
The KCEO class got underway in late July with a student, parent and business orientation with regular sessions underway the first week of school. The high school juniors and seniors will visit 50 to 60 businesses and have up to 70 guest speakers through the school year. KCEO’s goal is to help students view the Kandiyohi area as a place of opportunity and to give them the skills and confidence to help move it forward.
KCEO board members include SWIF Program Officer Cheryl Glaeser. She will share best practices and insight with other school districts in the region as they
consider starting the CEO program. Two other groups of school districts in our region are considering this opportunity. If you are interested in learning more
about CEO, contact us at (800) 594-9480 or [email protected].