Go Back

What We Teach

How we teach Opportunity in YE

At Youth Entrepreneurs, the principles that guide behavior are called Foundational Values. These YE values are at the heart of our curriculum and integral in helping our students grow. Our Foundational Values are responsibility, knowledge, passion, sound judgment, be principled, freedom, opportunity and win-win focus. We’re taking a look at each one, diving now into Opportunity.

Opportunity, YE students learn, starts with our own initiative: we make our own opportunities. “We’re surrounded by opportunities, but many of us have closed our eyes to those opportunities,” says Michael Barrett, Training Specialist at YE. “What our students learn through various activities is that when we focus on creating benefit for others, opportunities become more prevalent and more apparent. Going into the world with an understanding of opportunity, students look at the resources around them a little differently.”

Learning the value of opportunity cultivates a mindset shift in students. “Students explore the difference between receiving opportunities and earning opportunities,” Michael explains. “Opportunity calls us to awareness: once you understand what it is that will fulfill you in the world, you can start to interpret these opportunities and determine what their true value to you is.”

In the YE classroom, an understanding of opportunity encourages curiosity. “Our students learn through various activities that when we focus on creating benefit for others, opportunities become more prevalent and more apparent,” Michael says. This value results in an important curiosity. “Students begin to ask, How can I apply my skills and knowledge to my community? How can I create value in a way that others want to partner with me? How can I get to know those around me so I can serve my community?”

Michael recalls a powerful exercise a YE educator uses to demonstrate opportunity. The educator takes a $5 bill out as she discusses what it means to reach out and seize opportunities. “After the whole discussion, she’s still holding this $5 bill,” Michael says. “Holding it out signals that someone can take this if they are willing to step into the opportunity. It’s a springboard for learning: opportunities don’t just fall into our lap. It requires work and effort on our part. Part of our ability to influence ourselves and our communities is us stepping up and doing that hard work.”

Classroom auctions are another environment where students engage with the value of opportunity. “Students come to realize through auctions that opportunities do not persist. We have to be ready. Opportunities don’t wait for us, and opportunities don’t do the work,” Michael says.

The value of Opportunity connects directly to the value of Responsibility. Michael shares one of his favorite quotes by Louis Pasteur: “Chance only favors the prepared mind.” “There’s a responsibility within seizing opportunities. Students learn to define what their passions are, what their knowledge and skills are, how they create value,” he says. YE students learn to be ready so when the opportunity arises, they can create the most value for themselves and others.

Furthermore, students who learn Opportunity begin to see what is possible in the world, rather than what exists today in the world. “Students have a wonderful capacity for imagination,” Michael says. “They are able to see their own value and then manifest that imagination to make our world better! We’re capable and called to seek what’s next, and to take ownership over those opportunities.”

The Opportunity value also drives students to understand that when they see a problem in society, they can pursue the solution. “They learn to find people to partner with them to create what’s needed. They’re free to solve the problem.”

Understanding opportunity means understanding hope, Michael says. “Many YE students are learning to hope for the first time ever,” he says. “Students learn in YE that they do have power over their lives and they can have influence in their communities.”