Bringing Entrepreneurship to High Schools

Check out Social Innovation Sprint, in collaboration with the Jacobs School of Engineering on January 20th and 27th, open to graduate, undergraduate and high school students!

Our brand new Launchpad Center, co-sponsored by the Rady School of Management's Center for Executive Development and the California Institute for Innovation and Development, aims to introduce high school students to entrepreneurial thinking by utilizing the resources of the Rady School of Management and UC San Diego. We endeavor for this initiative to benefit our community and ideally increase social mobility.

Two schools are already working with us to provide them with Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs. Here is what they will be doing:

 - San Diego Jewish Academy will visit the campus once in the Fall and once in the Spring to pitch their ideas to a panel of professors, start-up founders, and investors; they'll also tour Calit2 and speak with its founder

 - Francis Parker students are participating in a week long program at the Rady School in February; they'll have lectures from Rady/UC San Diego faculty, founders of start-ups, tours of on-campus research facilities, and work on presentation and pitching skills. They will also play an online entrepreneur simulation,in which students are divided into teams to evaluate financing options at startup, and make staffing, marketing, and inventory management decisions for up to twelve simulated quarters; each team competes against other teams in class, growing sales and managing operations to maximize profits.

Launchpad can customize a program for you which can include activities similar to those above. We also offer workshops which can be done as a single event, or can be combined in a series. Workshops vary in length; some are a couple of hours and others represent a longer certificate series. Here is a sampling of workshops we offer to high schools:

Difficult Conversations

How to effectively communicate to achieve desired goals. Difficult conversations could include when and how to give negative or positive feedback, managing stressful situations, negotiating win-win communications, improving daily interactions, and more. Regardless of the situation, the tools learned in this course will make an immediate impact on conversations surrounding any difficult situation.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

A four-stage process for resolving conflicts based upon mediation theory and methodology. Participants leave with improved communication skills, the ability to de-escalate anger, and proven techniques to manage conflict better through a common language of mutual respect.

Cultivating Creativity

Generating an idea that is both novel and useful. It is designed to (a) help students be more creative, (b) teach them how to manage teams so that they are more creative than members working alone, and (c) help them understand key design elements of organizations that lead to creative workers. Importantly, themes of creativity that are common to individuals, teams, and organizations will also be explored.

The Art and Science of Emotional Intelligence

Participants will learn the latest research and scientific advances in the area, as well as practice techniques used by actors to engage in active listening, connect to an audience, connect to their own emotions and de-stress before a big event. The course combines theory with practice, empowering participants to take the skills learned in the course and apply them immediately to the real world.

Managing Personalities

Taking Myers-Briggs to the next level. This course will provide (a) increased understanding of how to work more effectively with others who are different from you, (b) increased personal self knowledge regarding your strengths and potential liabilities, (c) creative and ethical applications of your personal Type preferences, (d) behavioral implications of your personal Type, (e) tips on how to read others with whom you interact, and (f) 10 tactical changes you can make the very next day to enhance team high performance.

Negotiation Skills

Make conflict resolution a regular part of your approach to managing relationships at home, at work and in the community. The objectives of this course are to develop negotiation skills experientially and to learn useful analytical frameworks for understanding negotiations. Emphasis is placed on realistic negotiation exercises and role playing. The exercises serve as catalysts for the evaluation and discussion of different types of negotiation situations.

Perfecting Your Speaking Style and Clarifying Your Message

This course uses skills developed by actors to overcome stage fright, develop a strong stage presence, and develop a commanding voice. Additionally, participants are given the tools to perform a self-assessment and continue their growth after the course.

Marketing Essentials

This course provides students with a broad introduction to marketing concepts, how these fit within the overall strategy of the organization, and how they influence management and decision making. Specifically, students will understand the elements of the marketing mix, SWOT and breakeven analyses, segmentation, and how all marketing decisions necessitate good research.

What are people saying?

The kids were completely off the charts excited about what they accomplished and how empowered they felt to be speaking with “real-life business people." We had a couple breakdowns for some kids that were devastatingly nervous to present, but once they got up there they were all smiles coming to me afterwards telling me that this assignment has done “wonders” for their confidence.The results have been amazing. This event really brought out the adult professional in these kids…it’s going to have an impact for a long time.

- Parker Bush, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Instructor, San Diego Jewish Academy

"I recently had the pleasure of serving as one of the judges of a business plan competition among students of Francis Parker School. I actually forgot that I was observing high school students, as their level of preparation, thoughtfulness, creativity and presentation skills were akin to those seeking an MBA. The session made me realize how valuable this type of experience is for young eager minds. I wish I had had this type of early exposure and training while I was in high school. LaunchPad is a wonderful resource, and I have no doubt that the experience will benefit these young adults as they approach college and ultimately their careers."

- Lisa Walters-Hoffert Co-founder, Daré Bioscience

I liked the simulation and the exposure to this field. The simulation proved to test critical thinking problem solving skills within me, and the exposure showed me what a snippet of college would look like.

- J., Francis Parker School student

I enjoyed the speakers most of all, they provided interesting insight into the world of entrepreneurship and business.

- H., Francis Parker School student

Let us tailor a program for your students and their needs. Additionally, we can adapt workshops to "train the trainers" so that teachers will be able to disseminate this knowledge in their classrooms. For more information, please contact Launchpad Executive Director Tina Klein at 

Opportunities for individual students

In addition to our offerings for schools, Launchpad and UC San Diego offer a variety of programs for individual students who are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. Current and upcoming programs include:

Check out our high school spring and summer certificate programs focusing on entrepreneurship!

Startup Spring Break

Cost: $389
Ages: 14 - 18 years
Prerequisites: None
Session I: March 26 - 30, 2018


Session II: April 9 - 13, 2018


Startup Summer Camp

Cost: $789
Ages: 14 - 18 years
Prerequisites: None
Session I: June 18 - 29, 2018


Session II: July 9 - 20, 2018


Course Description
Curious about entrepreneurship, but not sure where to start? This two-week course is designed for aspiring high school entrepreneurs who want to explore this path. From developing new business ideas, learning marketing, research, and communication skills to entrepreneurial strategy and pitching, this course follows Rady’s successful approach to commercializing innovation. The last day culminates with student pitches to CEOs, educators, and entrepreneurs.

Course Goals
Through a mix of lectures, exercises, field trips, discussions with founders of startups, and visits to research labs & facilities, you will 1) learn the entrepreneurial mindset and its essential tools, 2) define your goals as an entrepreneur and business, 3) create viable business ideas, 4) understand the power of digital marketing, 5) create a website 6) appreciate how & when to protect your intellectual property, 7) glean insight into consumer and buyer behavior, 8) play an on-line entrepreneur simulation in which you’ll evaluate financing options at startup, as well as make staffing, marketing, and inventory management decisions, 9) explore the fundamentals of crowdfunding, and 10) learn effective communication and presentation skills. These 2 weeks culminate with teams pitching their new product ideas to a panel of experts.

Course Expectations
We expect that students will come ready to learn and explore ways in which they can make their new product ideas successful. In addition, we encourage students to think critically, evaluate the ideas of others, and support the commercialization of innovations that make our world better. In short, we encourage you to engage with the community and make a real impact!

For more information, please contact Tina Klein, Ph.D (

Mentor Assistance Program

Now in its third year, UC San Diego’s Mentor Assistance Program (MAP) is a campus-wide program, which will engage high school students in a mentoring relationship with an expert from a vast array of disciplines, including business and entrepreneurship. MAP’s mission is to provide a pathway for student researchers to gain access to UCSD faculty, post doctoral fellows and staff to mentor students in their own field of interest (i.e. independent study, class projects or possible career path). MAP is an opportunity for students to take the first step into a potential career path, while simultaneously building an early foundation for success in their academic career. Applications are closed for 2017. Learn more about the program and how to apply: