Rhode Island resident Bill Daugherty was wealthy by the age of 40. While in business school he came up with an idea for an online media and search company, then built it and sold it for $500 million. He started looking around his small state for ways to use his money philanthropically. He didn’t just want to write checks or sit in board meetings—as a successful business owner he had more to offer than money, and he wanted to get involved.
At last, in 2005, a neighbor introduced him to a social entrepreneur who thought the same way. Dennis Littky was co-founder of the Met Schools in Providence, an alternative academic program oriented toward career and technical skills, funded by CVS Pharmacy founder Stanley Goldstein. Littky’s schools were built on the latest research about how kids learn, but he was missing something he wanted: an entrepreneurial element to the curriculum. The two men connected, and Daugherty designed a new program for the schools called Entrepreneurship 360.
The program gave students an inside look at how to start a business. Daugherty did more than create it and fund it—he spent two mornings a week mentoring the students, in keeping with the Met Schools’ philosophy that adult nurturing is crucial to child development. The program led to successful businesses started by kids graduating from high school, and a freestanding Center for Entrepreneurship on the school campus in Providence, the only standalone business incubator for high-school students in the country. The Entrepreneurship 360 curriculum remains an integral part of the Met coursework, now taught in their six Rhode Island high schools and exported to 36 other alternative schools in 16 cities nationwide.