Tom Friedman Calls for Year of “Start-Up America”

Just got an email from my friends at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) that Tom Friedman calls on President Obama to make 2010 the year of ‘Start-Up America’ as the cure for what ails us (and his political fortunes). Friedman suggests Obama turn to programs such as NFTE and National Lab Day that teach students about innovation, entrepreneurship, and science.

Friedman writes, “We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of “’Start-Up America.'”

Here are some snippets describing the programs.


“NFTE works with middle- and high-school teachers to help them teach entrepreneurship. The centerpiece of its program is a national contest for start-ups with 24,000 kids participating. Each student has to invent a product or service, write up a business plan and then do it.”

National Lab Day:

“Introduced last November by a coalition of educators and science and engineering associations, Lab Day aims to inspire a wave of future innovators, by pairing veteran scientists and engineers with students in grades K-12 to inspire thousands of hands-on science projects around the country.

Any teacher in America, explains the entrepreneur Jack Hidary, the chairman of N.L.D., can go to the Web site and enter the science project he or she is interested in teaching, or get an idea for one. N.L.D. will match teachers with volunteer scientists and engineers in their areas for mentoring.

‘As soon as you have a match, the scientists and the students communicate directly or via Skype and collaborate on a project,’ said Hidary.”

While Friedman doesn’t mention it directly, perhaps Obama’s Office of Social Innovation is talking with these groups. Anyone know if Sonal Shah (a former Google philanthropy director) has been active on these fronts?

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