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Lincoln’s Future Builders – Building Lincoln’s Future

The identification, recruitment, development and retention of talent to Lincoln is vital to building on the entrepreneurial momentum in the city. So back in 2016, the Prosper Lincoln community agenda began to look at more intentional efforts to better connect high school students to their innovation and entrepreneurial talents.

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The identification, recruitment, development and retention of talent to Lincoln is vital to building on the entrepreneurial momentum in the city. So back in 2016, the Prosper Lincoln community agenda began to look at more intentional efforts to better connect high school students to their innovation and entrepreneurial talents. Helping them realize their propensity to be Builders – of an economy where none existed before; of businesses, ideas, communities and just a better life for themselves/those around them.

The Future Builders Challenge was born.

This past March/April and concluding in June (year two of the initiative) 2000 public and parochial high school students (predominantly juniors) were given the opportunity to take Gallup’s BP10 assessment tool to identify their Builder talents. And like 2018, the top 20% of students were then invited to a variety of events including an inspiration rally, builder bootcamp, pitch competition and a week-long Builders Academy at the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska – the only one of its kind in the world. In 2018 over 4000 students had the same opportunity afforded to them. Over two years, 6000 students discovering their inherent talents to Build – https://vimeo.com/279528115

This year the coaching day and pitch competition resulted in a dozen student-led teams competing for cash prizes and a coaching/development and validation experience from Lincoln headquartered e-commerce company, Spreetail.

During the weeklong Future Builders Academy immersion, students pitched starting their own business to a shark tank style panel of mentors and coaches from the Lincoln start-up community including Don’t Panic Labs, Bulu Group, Nelnet, Opendorse, Social Assurance and many others. Taking dead aim at real challenges in the city, the Builders embraced the Prosper Lincoln community agenda for early childhood development. They started the business, Prekrate, a subscription box service to help prepare every child for kindergarten. The subscription boxes center around three central themes identified as contributing to success: Healthy Habits, Social and Emotional Well-Being, and Language and Learning. Additionally, with each purchase, Prekrate will donate one subscription box to a family identified as qualifying for free or reduced lunch in schools.

Clifton Strengths Institute program coordinator Taylor Lofdahl commented, “It’s so impressive what these students accomplished. Within 5 days, they created a business, and many of them had only just met each other. It’s a testament to their creativity, innovative spirits, and Builder talent.”

Pre and post event research conducted by Gallup showed the Future Builders Challenge was able to move the needle for a great number of students including optimism for their future; greater awareness and validation of their talents; and an overall better appreciation for what it takes to build and grow a successful business.

Rich Claussen, Prosper Lincoln Ambassador for Innovation and Entrepreneurship talked about what it takes to make the Future Builders Challenge happen – “The support of the Lincoln community is vital to making this great initiative happen. Businesses, K-12 schools, higher education partners, foundations/funders and of course the coaching/mentoring talents of Lincoln’s burgeoning entrepreneurial/start-up community – without all of this support, Future Builders doesn’t happen”.

Other cities are taking note of what was created in Lincoln. Future Builders is growing to other parts of Nebraska and the nation including Denver, Baton Rouge, Indianapolis and Boston. All are in the process of taking on the Future Builders initiative.

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Rich Claussen is the Ambassador for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Prosper Lincoln

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