Opportunity Gap Business founders need people with curiosity and concern for the world

 In Benefit Venture Blog, Entrepreneurship, Reflections

opportunity gapOpportunity Gap: The Opportunity Gap concerns the arbitrary circumstances in which people are born—such as their race, gender, ethnicity, ZIP code, and socioeconomic status—that determine their opportunities in life.

The Opportunity Gap is not a kid problem, it should concern all of us, not just parents and educationalists. The Opportunity Gap is especially true for those of us who create new ventures.

Entrepreneurs need to have access to a pool of people who have above average curiosity and concern for the world around them. Founders grab opportunities, no matter their social background, but depend upon others who can also contribute beyond their skills.

One of the most significant ways that we can close the Opportunity Gap is by supporting out-of-school learning, especially since, by 6th grade, students living in low-income communities experience 6,000 fewer hours of learning opportunities outside the classroom than their more affluent peers.

One of the best examples of plans to close the Opportunity Gap is by Thompson Island Outward Bound in Boston, MA—an organization that I support. Called Connections, it’s a multi-year program serving Boston middle schoolers with hands-on field science, integrated with Outward Bound’s unique approach to building leadership, compassion and service—three critical attributes of successful entrepreneurs.

Connections partners with teachers, and brings students for at least 12 days on the island in Boston Harbor, throughout the middle school years, including overnight learning expeditions. Helping to close the opportunity gap, students get instruction and support from an Outward Bound staff member embedded year-round in their school. Program goals are to: improve student achievement in math, science and English language arts; develop social/emotional skills to help students succeed in school, their community and in life; increase student interest in professional and vocational careers, including STEM-based industries; develop active and informed citizens who are ready to take responsibility for creating a more sustainable world.

New venture founders need themselves to have strong character traits, and so do their teams. Character traits of priority for both venture leaders and teams include: confidence and passion, matched by humility and a willingness to learn; courage and determination; compassion and a socially responsible world view. These are of course not the only traits for successful entrepreneurship, but they are the ones that match what the spirit of the Connections program.

To give you a bit more depth, it could be worth you looking at:

All of these insights and reflections in some way underline the importance of why we should close the Opportunity Gap.

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