High School Students Become Global Entrepreneurs
What happens in Chico has the potential to reach around the world. Just ask accounting professor Curt DeBerg. He helps high school students in Bahrain, Burundi, Canada, China, Ireland, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Zambia, among others, serve their communities—and the world—by starting businesses. The students work through Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE), a business program modeled after interscholastic sports.
In late July, teams of high school students representing eight countries gathered in San Francisco for the 2012 SAGE World Cup Entrepreneurship Tournament. The 150 students presented business ideas designed to change the world—vying for the top spot and $9,000 in cash prizes.
“Instead of competing on speed, strength, or endurance, we provide teens with a chance to compete based on the creativity and impact of their socially responsible businesses,” says DeBerg, SAGE founder and CEO.
Each team had, over the past year, developed either a socially responsible business or a social enterprise business. According to SAGE’s definition, a socially responsible business is designed to make a profit; a social enterprise business is to address a social problem by using earned revenue. Each team presented their business at a SAGE national competition—and won a spot at the World Cup. Local sponsors include PG&E, Umpqua Bank, Deloitte Consulting, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Sierra Health Foundation, and the Ken Grossman family.
SAGE was founded at CSU, Chico in 2002 by DeBerg and a group of students on the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) team. The program has exploded since then, and DeBerg travels during semester breaks around the world starting new high school chapters. SAGE currently serves about 1,100 schools around the world, impacting about 11,000 students each year, says DeBerg.
The highest concentration of SAGE chapters is in Nigeria, with 800 schools participating. These chapters have raised money for new school buildings, latrines, and water wells across the country.
CSU, Chico students mentor the U.S. SAGE chapters, helping nurture the budding “capitalistic humanitarians,” DeBerg says. They visit Northern California schools in person and mentor other chapters remotely via Skype. They also staff competitions, gaining real-life experience in project management, communication, and leadership.
Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications
Honorary Doctorates Awarded to Notable Alumni
Ed Rollins and Sandy Lerner were awarded honorary doctorates during the University’s 122nd Commencement. Rollins (BA, Political Science, ’68) received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, and Lerner (BA, International Relations, ’75) received the Honorary Doctor of Science. The degrees were conferred by the California State University Board of Trustees and CSU, Chico.
Rollins is a political analyst and campaign manager who has served four U.S. presidents. He was in charge of the White House Office of Political Affairs and Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and served as the deputy chief of staff during the Reagan administration. He has had managerial roles in 10 presidential campaigns, including Ronald Reagan’s landslide reelection campaign in 1984.
Rollins is a senior political analyst for Fox News and appears regularly on Meet the Press, Nightline, Today, and many other talk shows. His memoir, Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics, was the No. 1 selling political book in America in 1996.
While at Chico State, Rollins was a member of the Block C athletic letterman’s society and helped coach the varsity boxing team to the National College Boxing Championship.
Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems Inc. and founded Urban Decay. She earned an MA in econometrics at Claremont College and an MS in statistics and computer science at Stanford University. She is the 1996 Distinguished Alumna from CSU, Chico’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. For more about Lerner, read "A Knack for Reinvention."