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The Chairman's Blog
Forty Percent of 5th-12th Graders Plan to Start a Business
The Chairman's Blog

Forty Percent of 5th-12th Graders Plan to Start a Business

by Jim Clifton and John Hope Bryant

Since 2011, the joint mission of Gallup and Operation HOPE has been to unleash the economic energy of America's youth. We wanted to learn if the nearly 30 million American students in middle school and high school possess a spirit of free enterprise. We looked everywhere and could not find a single behavioral economic nor predictive analytic on the financial literacy of youth related to business and banking.

So we created one.

In the 2016 Gallup-HOPE Index, you will find answers to the most important questions for our nation's future: Is America's youth financially literate enough to solve the country's economic and jobs problems? Do young people possess the spirit of free enterprise? Are students getting the opportunity to match their aspirations with the experience they need to boom America's economy?

You'll see in the report that there's been little progress on these measures. Students remain optimistic but lack the financial literacy required to compete globally. This is bad news for America, as the country's productivity growth has fallen to nearly zero.

There are some promising signs. About 40% of students say they plan to start a business and/or invent something that will change the world. The problem is, less than 5% of these students are participating in internships at companies or organizations. This is arguably the single biggest national failure of our leadership. Not Washington's, not the public school systems' -- but yours and mine.

Given the current state of the nation and outlook for the future, investing in our aspiring young entrepreneurs is essential to developing the next generation of business builders and community transformers.


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.
John Hope Bryant is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and author of How the Poor Can Save Capitalism.

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