Bringing Entrepreneurship to High Schools

Our new Launchpad Center (founded in 2016) is co-sponsored by the Rady School of Management's Center for Executive Development and the California Institute for Innovation and Development. We aim to introduce high school students to entrepreneurial thinking by utilizing the resources of the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego, and our startup community.  This program builds bridges between teens, CEOs, city officials, educators, entrepreneurs, and the university. Through this initiative, high school students are inspired to embrace innovative thinking and benefit our greater community by creating enduring business ideas, connections, and increasing social mobility.

Launchpad endeavors to provide the opportunity for every student to access the power of youth entrepreneurship education, and to give those that step forward access to the ecosystem to empower and support them now and in the future. With studies showing as many as 46% of jobs for people 30 years of age and under being in the form of independent contractor roles, the need for the entrepreneurial mindset, skills, competencies, and resilience has never been greater. 

We offer workshops in business and presentation skills as well as design thinking. These vary in length; some are a couple of hours and others represent a longer certificate series.

Let us tailor a program for your students and their needs!

For more information, please contact Launchpad Founder Tina Klein at 

Listen to Launchpad Founder Tina Klein talk about the why, how, and what of the program


Who are we working with?

San Diego Jewish Academy, La Jolla Country Day, Francis Parker, Pacific Ridge, Del Lago Academy, the Nordson Foundation, and Barrio Logan College Institute, along with individual students from San Diego High School of International Studies, Canyon Crest Academy, Bishop’s, La Jolla High, Torrey Pines, and Helix Charter High School.

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 CFO, 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

Read more about the educational and real world value of the program:

Opportunities for individual students

Launchpad and UC San Diego also 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 summer certificate program focusing on entrepreneurship!

Startup Summer Camp

Cost: $789
Ages: 14 - 18 years
Prerequisites: None

Session I: Dates TBD

9:30a - 3:30p each day



Through a mix of lectures, exercises, field trips, discussions with founders of startups, and visits to research labs & facilities, students will 1) learn the entrepreneurial mindset and its essential tools, 2) define their 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 they’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.

Mentor Assistance Program

Now in its fourth year, UC San Diego’s Mentor Assistance Program (MAP) is a campus-wide program, which engages 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, postdoctoral 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. The application deadline for 2018-2019 is April 18. Learn more about the program and how to apply: