A new type of school that plans to offer real business experience to students in middle and high schools will open in the fall.
Matrix Entrepreneur Academy, located at 4900 California Ave., is a part-time curriculum for seventh through 12th graders in any type of educational setting. Unlike a traditional school, these classes are held two days a week for two and a half hours each.
The entrepreneur program will consist of four areas of emphasis: financial education, entrepreneur education, skills for success and wellness for energy.
Students will be part of a class business before starting their own, explained Donna Schwartz, founder and president of the board of directors of the nonprofit Innovative Entrepreneur Education. Businesses will be sole proprietorships and will range from selling products to providing a service or being in the entertainment business. Auditions will be held in March and April for students who would like to participate in a production company.
Schwartz wanted to open an academy like this after seeing that most business education in schools revolves around virtual businesses and basic concepts, she explained. This also offers an avenue for students who want more in their education.
"Some are bored, some want to make money, nothing is really grabbing their attention," she said. "There’s quite a few out there who are entrepreneurs and have businesses. There’s kids who would like to have businesses and don’t have anybody that would help them. Kids that are children of entrepreneurs sometimes don’t learn best from their parents. Those are the kinds of students we anticipate would blossom."
The school will offer classes at various times throughout the day to make it easier to fit into students' lives. A morning class will be offered from 9 to 11:30 a.m., which would be appropriate for homeschooled children. Another class will be held 12:15 to 2:45 p.m., which could also work for homeschooled children or those taking online classes through Kern Learn. There will also be a class offered after school from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
Each student will also have a mentor from the business community.
Similar business schools have been up and running throughout the state. In 2015, the Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, part of the Fresno Unified School District, opened as a "pathway out of poverty for a lot of local students," school counselor Oscar Barragan explained.
There are around 300 high school students enrolled, and unlike Matrix Entrepreneur Academy, they go to school five days a week and take classes that they would at any other high school. The entrepreneurship education kicks in through their business or computer science electives that they take each year that lead up to them running their own business senior year. Businesses have included running a skincare line and creating high-tech shower heads.
"There's more buy-in to this type of educational system. They’re more serious," Barragan explained. "We’re a choice school, so they want to be here."
Barragan agrees with Schwartz that many of his students want something different with their education, which is why they decide to enroll in Patiño School of Entrepreneurship.
"Not all of my students go to college for business, but a lot of times it’s still their passion," he added.
Matrix Entrepreneur Academy can hold a maximum of 250 students, though Schwartz doesn't anticipate reaching that number this first year.
Those interested in the academy should submit an intent to enroll form by Feb. 28. Registration packets will go out in March that will include tuition fees and other information.
To learn more about the academy, visit https://matrixentrepreneuracademy.org/