Future Builders Challenge helps Lincoln students identify their entrepreneurial talents


Last week, The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools announced the Future Builders Challenge, a community partnership that encourages growth in entrepreneurial and business-minded high school students.

The Future Builders Challenge allows students in Lincoln to identify their aptitudes to become entrepreneurs, innovators, and builders. Grounded in global Gallup research, the Builder Profile 10 (BP 10) assessment was provided for free to over 2,600 high school freshmen and business and entrepreneurship club members in all Lincoln public and private schools.

“The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools is excited to collaborate with the community to provide this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to tap into their full potential and become tomorrow’s builders,” said Wendy Van, President of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools.

Van said that educational foundations like The Foundation for LPS spend every day trying to figure out how they can help kids reach their full potential.

“We provide the magic in the margins, those extra things that help kids take what they learn in school and apply them in unique ways,” said Van. “This fits perfectly with our mission to help identify kids with specific interests and help them reach their full potential by partnering them with community members who can take what they learned during the school day and make it come to life.”

Builder talents identified in the students’ profiles include Confidence, Delegator, Determination, Disruptor, Independence, Knowledge, Profitability, Relationship, Risk, and Selling. Builder roles include Rainmaker, Conductor, and Expert.

“Each of us is born to build, and we each have a unique set of talents,” said Todd Johnson, Global Channel Leader, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation at Gallup. “We’re teaching these students that skills can be transferred, but talents are hardwired from the age of 3 or 4.”

Together, Prosper Lincoln and Gallup spent nearly a year and a half developing the program.  Rich Claussen, Ambassador for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Prosper Lincoln said the credit for the program’s development goes to people who got on board from the very beginning..

“One of the biggest challenges Lincoln has, is we need to be able to identify, recruit, develop and retain young talent,” said Claussen. “There are young people in middle and high school today who can contribute to making the next great economy, which is not going to be built on the backs of Fortune 500 companies, but will be built on entrepreneurial talent and small businesses.”

Johnson said everyone is building things, big or small, but when someone knows where their talents lie, it helps them to be better builders. It could be decades before these students build something, but when they do, the hope is that they’ll want to do it in Lincoln.

“What we’re working on is the newest form of economic development,” said Johnson. “We at Gallup would like to change the current national conversation from, ‘What do you do?’ to ‘What are you building?’”

Johnson also thinks that identifying Builder talents through things like the Future Builders Challenge will have a positive effect on the strength of future startups.

“Too many times founders are partnering with people who look like them and think like them, but that’s not always what’s best for the business,” said Johnson. “They need to find people that compliment their talents, not mirror their talents.”

The Future Builders Challenge is comprised of four main components.

BP 10 Assessment
The students learned about their propensity for innovation and entrepreneurship through the assessment and identified their dominant Builder talents, the roles that fit them best, and were given action items for applying these talents. Understanding their Builder talents opens students to their skill sets and provides opportunities for them to collaborate with other like-minded students, successful professionals, and educators.

“For years we have invested time, resources and coaching to help identify who are the best athletes, scholars and performing artists,” said Claussen. “Conversely, we have done very little to do the same to identify and grow the talents of those who will be builders: Builders of ideas, businesses, and communities. This Future Builders initiative is a great first step.”

Inspiration Rally
Approximately 500 students who show extreme Builder talents, along with their parents, will be invited to an Inspiration Rally at the Innovation Campus on March 12, 2018. There, they will hear from community leaders how others took their strengths to change their communities and build businesses.

Boot Camp/Pitch Competition
Qualifying students will participate in the Boot Camp portion of Future Builders at the University of Nebraska College of Business on April 7, 2018. The Boot Camp will be followed by a Coaching Session and Pitch Competition at Nebraska Innovation Campus on April 9, 2018, hosted by Spreetail.

At these events, students will learn more about their strengths from Gallup experts, and how to build on those strengths as they work with community mentors on pitch competition ideas centered on solving challenges for the community. Cash prizes will be offered to help launch the winning ideas presented at the competition.

Clifton Strengths Institute
Up to 30 students, selected from those that complete the pitch competition, the BP 10 assessment, and an application process, will receive a month-long Clifton Strengths Institute session in June at UNL. Gallup Strengths trained UNL undergrads will mentor each of the 30 students for the remainder of their high school career.

“Gallup is thrilled to establish this exciting new partnership right here in Lincoln to help thousands of young people cultivate the mindset of a builder, find solutions to local problems, create demand, generate economic energy, and transform lives and economies,” said Johnson. “It is our hope that Lincoln becomes a beacon of builder excellence that communities all over the world will study and can replicate.”

Van said that sometimes, it only takes one experience to put a student on a path that will help them reach their full potential, and that experience can hold even more value beyond the individual. It can impact an entire community.

“We have a vibrant startup community in Lincoln, but it hasn’t reached down into the high school students as much as it has to the recent graduates and the college students,” said Van. “If we can create a culture or an environment where students as young as 15 or 16-years-old start thinking of themselves as builders or as makers, I think our whole community will be better off. It will provide stronger leaders in the future.”


Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News