SAGE’s Founder, Dr. Curtis L. DeBerg was introduced to many of the current SAGE Country and State Coordinators in his role as faculty adviser to the Chico State Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team from 1993-2005. SIFE is an international organization whose mission is to help university students gain teamwork, leadership and communication skills by learning, teaching and practicing the principles of free enterprise.

The Chico State team gained recognition in the late 1990s and early 2000s based largely on the success of its community outreach projects, the most noteworthy being the progenitor to SAGE, “Cal-High SIFE” (in 1999, Chico State was the International SIFE Champion team). In 2003, the name Cal-High SIFE was changed to SAGE for several reasons, two of which were:

• to brand SAGE, which targets primarily high school students, as a separate organization separate and distinct from SIFE, which targets primarily university students and
• to link the formal name of the program to the SAGE acronym; “sage” means “of wisdom” or “to proceed cautiously and with wisdom.” Also, a “sage” is someone who is wise.

Audience members of Chico State SIFE presentations were impressed with the high school program and sought out Dr. DeBerg to learn how they might implement the SAGE program in their communities. In the past several years, he has traveled to over 20 countries to introduce SAGE. To obtain a clearer idea of how SAGE differs from SIFE, click here.

Why the emphasis on high school students?

Based on International Labor Organization statistics, 66 million young people today are unemployed and an even higher number are underemployed. Overall, the unemployment rate for young people is two to three times higher than for adults. A generation without the hope of a stable job is a burden for the whole of society. Poor employment in the early stages of a young person’s career can harm job prospects for life. The economic investment of governments in education and training will be wasted if young people do not move into productive jobs that enable them to pay taxes and support public services. Having reduced youth unemployment to half by 2015 is one of the goals that Heads of State of all member countries of the United Nations adopted in the Millennium Declaration. By exploring ways to increase youth employment, SAGE can help end the vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion. SAGE can help organizations like the ILO and its member states, employers’ and workers’ organizations become aware of youth employment issues, which helps them formulate effective policies and program.