Young Founders Program

If you believe that enterprise, creativity, and ingenuity are potent and effective tools for shaping our world, the Young Founders Program may be the perfect place for you. This program was created specifically for high school graduates seeking to enhance their academic skills as they gain valuable experience in designing and developing a social or commercial enterprise that delivers value to the world.

And the best part is, you get to create the program you want. The Young Founders Program is fully customizable and includes classroom time, design/building time, internships with local businesses and organizations, field research, guest visitors, and consultation with advisors. Upon completion of the program, students will enter the world equipped to take their enterprise and their entrepreneurial skills to the next level. Whether that means attending university or technical school, managing or joining a start-up, or entering the next phase of their lives ready to create social impact through ingenuity, passion, and discipline, our graduates will be prepared to realize their vision for themselves and the world.

The Young Founders Program is open to accepted applicants who have a high school diploma and are under 21 years of age at graduation.


What is the Young Founders Program?
Who is eligible to apply for the Young Founders Program?
What constitutes an “enterprise”?
Why should I consider deferring college/university enrollment to participate in this program?
What will I get from participation in the program?
When and how should I apply?
What does the program cost?
What others services are available for college preparation?

Advisory Committee

Karen Doyle Grossman is co-founder of the Young Founders Program. Previously, Karen served as Executive Director of WorldTeach and Director of Global Initiatives at the Hotchkiss School. From 2006-2011, she was Vice President, Social Innovations at Mercy Corps, a $450 million international organization with 5,000 staff operating in 41 countries. During her six years at the Aspen Institute, Karen launched the Institute’s Young Leadership Initiative for executives under the age of 45. She also managed the Socrates Society, a Silicon Valley-based seminar and policy program for technology sector and social entrepreneurs. Karen was an associate director for the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program, leading multi-year initiatives to document, evaluate, and fund innovative anti-poverty strategies in the United States. Also in that role, Karen founded MicroMentor, an online mentoring and business support network for emerging entrepreneurs. She has spoken on social entrepreneurship and innovation at Harvard Business School, Yale University, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, among many others. Karen holds a B.A. in government from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in education policy studies from The George Washington University. She is currently finishing her doctoral studies at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and completed executive education at Harvard and Stanford Universities. Karen lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with her husband and their three children.

Ela Ben-Ur is passionate about enabling people of all ages to articulate and amplify their natural ways of designing and innovating. She has worked and co-experimented deeply with organizations and educators interested in design thinking since 2012. A focus of her present experimentation is Innovators' Compass,  Ela worked 13 prior years at renowned innovation firm IDEO. Her design practice and leadership at IDEO spanned diverse industries, geographies and sectors. She went on to co-found IDEO’s Leadership Studio for developing project leaders, coach teams and facilitate for clients. Ela has taught courses from product design to life design at pioneering Olin College since 2007. She has offered workshops through MIT (her alma mater), Babson, Dartmouth and Harvard, and at conferences from SXSW EDU to the US Conference on AIDS. She loves the outdoors, traveling, and improvisational fiddling. Her 4- and 6-year old daughters are her inspiration.

Erika Allison - Director of Member Services at 1Berkshire
Erika Allison is a mechanical engineer, educator and entrepreneur. In addition to leading innovation
within Fortune 100 companies and high school classrooms earlier in her career, Erika went on to lead
the launch of a STEM education nonprofit and the Technovation Challenge, a high-tech
entrepreneurship incubator program for girls in New York City. She later won the inaugural Startup
Weekend event in Maine with a mobile app called Goals with Friends. Especially passionate about
social entrepreneurship, Erika is a StartingBloc Fellow from the 2010 NYC Institute. She lives in the
Berkshires of western Massachusetts and works for 1Berkshire, a regional nonprofit economic
development agency.

Joe Finnegan - Executive Vice President at Berkshire Fairfield Financial LLC
Joe is 30-year veteran of the financial markets and private sector investing. As Executive Vice President with Berkshire Fairfield Financial Services & Insurance, he helps businesses, individuals, and families by structuring solutions that optimally protect their financial interests A graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Joe relocated to the Berkshires after leaving Wall Street, and co-founded CFB Partners, where he worked with individuals and families to design personalized, tax-efficient strategies for wealth creation and asset protection. During his time on Wall Street, Joe spent 20 years as a specialist trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, managing trading for internationally driven companies. As an expert skilled at explaining the volatile global marketplace during the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was a frequent guest commentator on CNBC’s “Street Signs” and “Opening Bell,” as well as CNN-FN’s “After The Close.” He is also a Strategic Advisor to Terra Sustainable Technologies. Joe, his wife, Tracy, and their three sons moved to Williamstown, Massachusetts in 2005.

Robert Glovsky '69 - Vice Chair and a Principal of The Colony Group
The Colony Group provides wealth management and investment advisory services to individuals and families. Bob, a graduate of the Darrow School Class of 1969, brings 40 years of experience in financial planning and money management with a focus on comprehensive planning. In addition, Bob is a 2018 Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative. Bob served as a member on the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, after being appointed by President Obama in 2014. Bob currently serves as Chair of the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning. The Center is dedicated to the profession’s collective effort to develop a diverse and sustainable talent pool for the 21st century. Bob served as 2010 Chair of the Board of Directors of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. He also has served as Chair of the Board of Examiners of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which sets standards for financial planning professionals worldwide. Bob co-founded and is the Director Emeritus of Boston University’s Financial Planning Program after more than 20 years of service as its Director. He was honored in 2010 for his service, and the Robert J. Glovsky Scholarship Fund was created to help fund financial planning education for qualified women and people of color, plus those choosing to assist the underserved population.

Garry C. Miller, Jr. - Agile Coach at State Street
A software delivery consultant with 11 years of experience in project execution, AGILE software development, and transformative investment management, Garry values working with clients who are embarking upon pivotal initiatives, seeking to reestablish their competitive advantage. While pursuing a finance degree on full scholarship at the University of Texas, he began his professional career as a technical analyst with the firms Lucent Technologies and Perot Systems, the precursors to Dell Professional Services. After several years as a process lead, he moved into traditional project management with a growing supplier of the natural and organic food market, where he led the Innovation and Architecture Solutions team, spearheading two large supply modernization efforts. This led to a positions working with UPS Worldwide Logistics and Fidelity Investments, the latter as a senior scrum master, where he earned formal certification through Scrum Alliance. After positions working with venture-backed startups in the food service and kitchen management industries, he went to work with OPTUM of United Healthcare as an Agile Program Lead, training and developing new agilists, contributing to curriculum, and establishing best practices. Garry then joined State Street's Agile Office as a Team Coach, where he conducts training classes, launching and certifying more than a dozen scrum teams annually.

What is  the Young Founders Program?
The Young Founders Program is a one-year, intensive, and customized residentially based program at Darrow School that, through project-based classroom work, field work, and individual mentorship, gives each student the chance to design and launch an enterprise by the end of the year.

Who is eligible to apply for the Young Founders Program?
The program is open to high school graduates who will complete the program before their 21st birthday, and will constitute a combination of classroom and design work on the Darrow campus and experiential opportunities off-campus.

What constitutes an “enterprise”?
An enterprise, broadly speaking, is a project or undertaking that requires initiative and results in the creation of a business, product, or service that adds value to the world. Students in the Young Founders Program will have the opportunity to explore and create either commercial or social enterprises.

Why should I consider deferring college/university enrollment to participate in this program?

Colleges increasingly report a need for students who can instinctively and skillfully solve the problems that exist in the world around them while living independently in an academic setting. Further, colleges and universities seek to add to their campuses students who possess leadership skills and an openness to new ideas. The Young Founders Program will strengthen your applications to elite colleges and universities.

What will I get from participation in the program?
When you complete the Young Founders Program you will be more driven, confident, and capable of understanding how to make an impact on the world by designing products and services that have inherent value. The program results in a certificate of completion.

When and how should I apply?
Admission to the Young Founders Program is open through August 20. However, we plan to cap enrollment in the first year at five students, so you should consider sending your materials to us as soon as possible. A completed application consists of: a resume, letter of interest, high school transcript, and interview.

What does the program cost?
The Young Founders Program costs $55,000, which includes, tuition, room and board, and up to a $5,000 stipend to fund your enterprise. Financial aid is available on for students with demonstrated financial need.

What others services are available for college preparation?
For an additional fee, students in the program can receive one-on-one college counseling; academic mentorship to improve study skills, executive functioning, content knowledge or skill development; and SAT/ACT preparation.

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