Huntley Community School District 158 has gained the support of at least 14 area business to contribute to the INCubatoredu program, an innovative entrepreneurial course that the district plans to roll out in the fall.
Career and technical education chairman Nick Wedoff said these businesses have a lot of interesting niche markets – such as entertainment, homebuilding and electrical contracting – but there still is room for more contributors.
The program allows students to build a business from the ground up and has been debuted in a number of McHenry County school districts, including Harvard School District 50, Community School District 155 and McHenry School District 156.
“It’s a high-level course where the output is extremely worthwhile and will help [students] carry forward in life,” Wedoff said.
Students will be separated into six stations to brainstorm a business idea, perform market research and develop a business plan to present before a panel of business leaders, similar to the ABC TV series “Shark Tank.”
In its first year, sophomore- to senior-level Huntley High School students will be eligible for the class with the prerequisite of one business class, such as printing and publishing, marketing or computer literacy.
At Huntley High School, business volunteers would serve in a number of different capacities.
A board of advisers consisting of three or four business leaders would evaluate the accuracy and detail of student presentations at two times during the school year.
Instructional coaches would bring their own professional expertise on building a business and would teach several lessons a year. Classroom mentors would have the greatest participation in the program and would work with student groups every one to two weeks. Students would have the opportunity to build relationships with their mentors, develop a business structure and determine whether a pitched product has marketability.
“There’s a lot of steps, and it’s pretty intensive, but it will bring more authenticity and real work connections in the community,” Wedoff said.
Before the course’s debut, Wedoff said, the district will modify an old study hall classroom at the high school to become a conducive business environment. He added that donations are being sought for this project, which will be performed over the summer.