When Whitney Houston first sang “I believe the children are our future…” in 1986 it was certainly considered an inspiring ballad. Flash forward 30 years and there are plenty of reasons to worry that children aren’t prepared for the fast-moving, technologically intense future we’ve created for them.
Lindsey Mangone is the founder and Executive Director of the Audacious Institute, a for-profit social enterprise that empowers and inspires high school students to meet the social and technological challenges of our day.
Lindsey explains the problem as she sees it. “Today’s youth are struggling in a changing economy in part because they’re vastly unprepared for 21st century jobs. Traditional K-12 schools are failing to teach the skills youth need to succeed in the marketplace, such as problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking.”
“Before they set foot on a college campus,” she adds, “teens need ample opportunities to build the mindset, 21st century skills, and networks that will prepare them for jobs of the future. Teens also need exposure to authentic, real-world experiences pre-college to help inform fundamental college and career decisions.”
Lindsey created the Audacious Institute to give teens the opportunity, inspiration and confidence to tackle modern, real-world problems right in their own communities. The organization gives students the opportunity to launch startups and in the process build skills that prepare them for college and careers, she says.
Creating and scaling such an innovative program is challenging, Lindsey admits. “The biggest hurdles we face are marketing and funding. We have run over 25 programs to-date, in Atlanta, Boston, Durham, Park City, Salt Lake City, and even Havana, Cuba. In each new city, it’s a challenge to build awareness around our programs, while remaining a lean team. We strive to make our programs accessible to students of all backgrounds, which means we offer scholarships and struggle to cover our costs.”
The program won’t help every child. Given the small group size and personal attention paid to the students, reaching every child in the world will be impossible, she acknowledges. “We really focus on impact and a personal touch. This creates limitations from a scale perspective, not that we can’t scale but that we have to be very deliberate with how we scale in order to maintain the quality of the program.”
Lindsey isn’t discouraged by challenges and limitations. “Our big, audacious goal is to double the number of entrepreneurs and change makers in the word. We believe if we can do this, we can create an economy and world that gives everyone an equal chance to succeed,” she concludes.
The Audacious Institute will be hosting a one-week program for high school students at the University of Utah July 11 – 15. Learn more here.
On Thursday, June 23, 2016 at noon Eastern, Lindsey will join me for a live discussion about the program, it’s challenges and its potential to shape the world. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about the Audacious Institute:
The Audacious Institute (AI) is a bold opportunity for high school and middle school students to explore innovation and entrepreneurship and learn what it takes to launch a startup. Over the course of a week, students become expert problem-solvers and apply design thinking and the lean startup method to tackle problems they’ve experienced in their everyday lives. Students build an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces feedback, sees problems as opportunities, and thrives amidst failure. Each program culminates in a pitch competition in front of an expert panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. AI students leave more inspired, more confident, and more experienced in the 21st century skills, tools, and networks that will better prepare them for college and careers.
Lindsey is the Founder and Executive Director of the Audacious Institute. Lindsey started her career at Deloitte where she developed innovative products and services for Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations Innovation Center and led Deloitte’s Southeast Women’s Initiative (WIN). She holds an MBA from Duke University, with a concentration in social entrepreneurship. While at Duke, Lindsey coached the winning team in a high school entrepreneurship competition and collaborated on a social impact case study with Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great. Lindsey lives in Atlanta with her husband, Adam, and daughter, Rose. She is active in LEAD Atlanta and serves on the Duke Atlanta Alumni Board.
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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!