What if there was a class at Lake Forest High School that could teach students essential and marketable skills? Skills like critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, time management, organization, and goal-setting? And what if that same course could also build leadership and teamwork abilities, encourage fresh-thinking and creativity, and help cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset? Well, that is precisely what the  LFHS Business Incubator course is providing students each year thanks to the generosity of LFHS Foundation donors and community volunteers.

In 2014, the LFHS Foundation partnered with teachers at the high school providing the funding and support needed to pioneer an innovative new way of teaching critical business concepts and practical life skills. Students in the Business Incubator have the unique opportunity to become real entrepreneurs by creating and developing their own product or service. Student teams are coached and mentored by local entrepreneurs and business leaders, who volunteer their time and business acumen to assist the students in cultivating new product concepts. During the year-long course, students learn about ideation, marketing, accounting, human resources, as well as the legal and financial aspects of running a business in a hands-on, practical way.
Creating a Foundation for Innovation: Curriculum, Space, Volunteers & Funding
Investing in Educational Excellence
The LFHS Foundation’s investment began by funding a re-imagined classroom called the  Innovation Incubator , a customized space designed to ignite brainstorming and inspire collaboration and creative thinking. The Foundation also purchased the original course curriculum used to launch the program. Additionally, each year the Foundation provides volunteer support, helps to fund the students’ business ideas, and hosts the annual  Pitch Night , a “Shark-Tank” style event where selected student teams have the opportunity to present their ideas to a Board of Directors for the chance to earn money to help take their businesses to the next level.  Two LFHS Foundation Trustees work closely with the instructors and LFHS administration supporting the program in a variety of ways including securing and managing dozens of volunteer mentors and coaches to support the students.

In just five short years since its inception, the Business Incubator program has grown three-fold in popularity, with nearly 25% of the Junior class across 17 student teams enrolled in this honors-level business course. Shortly after it was established, a subsequent Senior-level honors course called the Business Accelerator was established, where teams awarded funding during Pitch Night can continue in the process of developing their businesses. The program has been highly successful, with many of these student teams going on to secure additional funding to further their businesses through national entrepreneurship competitions and Venture Capital investment. 
Providing Real World Business Experience

Even for those students who do not take their business concepts beyond the walls of LFHS, the opportunity to gain “real world” business experience, work collaboratively to overcome obstacles, and pretest career interests prior to college is invaluable. As LFHS Foundation Business Incubator Vice Chair, Nikki Rhomberg, shares, “Many of our students are getting into top business and entrepreneurship programs by highlighting their experience in the Business Incubator on their college applications. Our alums tell us that once they are in college, they are more prepared than many of their peers because of the learning they’ve had in this class.” The Business Incubator course provides a unique learning opportunity for LFHS students and helps prepare them for their future.
Want to see the Business Incubator in action?
Be sure to attend the  2019 Pitch Night on Monday, June 3, 2019 at 7pm in the Raymond Moore Auditorium at LFHS. This 5th annual event will feature up to four of the Business Incubator teams battling for prize money, while the other groups as well as teams from the Business Accelerator will have the opportunity to highlight their businesses in lobby displays.
Don’t miss this exciting event!
Thank you to our GENEROUS DONORS
for investing in educational excellence with us!
Lake Forest High School Foundation | lfhsfoundation.org