The long-term future of the U.S. economy rests on the shoulders of young people who are eager to start businesses, create jobs and be their own bosses but don’t necessarily have the skills to pull that off.
The most recent Gallup-Hope Index, a measure of entrepreneurial engagement and financial literacy, found that 45 percent of students in grades five through 12 want to start their own company, and 77 percent want to be their own boss.
The students responded to a nationally representative poll conducted by the Gallup Organization in partnership with Operation HOPE.
On Wednesday, about 300 high-achieving Omaha Avenue Scholars, community business leaders and 300 Gallup employees converged on the Joslyn Museum to hear John Hope Bryant, the chief executive and founder of Operation HOPE, encourage more students to fight back against “thug culture” and to “make smart sexy again.”
“Everything you do matters,” Bryant said. “This is not a recession we’re in. It’s a reset.”
The vast majority of the 1,721 students surveyed said they aren’t afraid to take risks, never give up and are regularly thinking of new ideas — qualities characteristic of entrepreneurs.
But only about half report that their schools offer classes on how to run a business and 54 percent learn lessons about finance and banking. Fifty-eight percent of students reported having their own bank account, and about one-in-five spend more than one hour a week doing a paid job.
Bryant, who started Operation HOPE to help people achieve financial stability through counseling and financial literacy, said that over the last 20 years, the United States “made dumb sexy.”
Bryant said his peers growing up had opportunities to start businesses, create jobs and be successful, but many didn’t have the drive or vision to make it happen.
Now he said it’s up to America’s youths to help make the long-term changes to bring intelligence, entrepreneurship and learning back to the cultural forefront.
“My generation has blown it,” he said. “This is for all the marbles, for everything, and it takes somebody who’s a little bit crazy.”
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