WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) introduced legislation yesterday to connect students from underprivileged backgrounds with mentors in entrepreneurship and innovation. The 21st Century Entrepreneurship Act would connect students enrolled in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) with mentors from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) to introduce students to entrepreneurship and help them develop professional skills.
“Tennessee is known for having a robust creative and entrepreneurial community,” said Senator Blackburn. “What we know from experience is that mentors are essential in showing young adults how to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to their workday. In this time of uncertainty, a mentor to partner with you and provide advice is invaluable. The 21st Century Entrepreneurship Act ensures that Tennessee’s entrepreneurs of tomorrow have someone to guide them today.”
“Nevada is home to countless young innovators with so much potential, but we know that not everybody starts off on an equal footing,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Despite the fact that numerous studies have proven the importance of mentorship for young entrepreneurs, there are currently no federal mentorship programs that provide the tools for students to become the successful inventors and business owners of tomorrow. This legislation addresses that disparity. It would provide underprivileged students in federally-funded afterschool programs with the opportunity to learn business and life skills from professional mentors and gain the confidence and support to continue pursuing their dreams.”
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) is a federal program that supports local afterschool and summer learning programs for students with high potential at under-resourced schools. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) provides business counseling to entrepreneurs via more than 11,000 volunteer counselors who are working or retired business owners. The 21st Century Entrepreneurship Act would create a partnership between 21st CCLC and SCORE by requiring the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop an entrepreneurship curriculum for 21st CCLC and encourage SCORE volunteers to partner with local chapters to provide training and mentorship. It would also amend the Small Business Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure these partnerships fall within the mission of each agency.