About Us

For Educators

The St. Joe CEO Program is designed for seniors attending any high school in St. Joseph County and covers the basics of conceptualizing, starting, and running a small business. The Indiana Department of Education recognizes the CEO program and has designated it as program 5966 Entrepreneurship and New Ventures. The program qualifies for two credits per semester for a total of four credits.

Concepts such as supply and demand, cost/benefit analysis, competitive advantage, and opportunity recognition are covered. In addition, coursework includes: innovative thinking strategies, emotional intelligence, product development, business structure, marketing, financial strategies, record keeping, and preparing an income statement, balance sheet, income and cash flow statements. Entrepreneurial thinking (outside-the-box problem solving) is utilized throughout the course. The course is built around the National Entrepreneurship Standards.

For Businesses

In recent years, St. Joseph County has developed programs like Innovation Park and enFocus that encourage Notre Dame graduates to “Stay, Contribute and Make Michiana Their Home.” These programs are having a positive effect. But we think there is one program that is even more direct.

The St. Joe CEO program (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) is designed to encourage high school seniors to learn about business not by listening and reading but by actually doing. Our CEO Program is one of many in the United States. Every high school in our county including Marian and St. Joseph will be offering it as a 4 credit, graded course.

For this to work we need broad local support. The CEO Program is funded solely by local business people who are each asked to contribute $3,000 per year for three years. We are asking you to be one of those people. We are also asking you to help by actively participating by hosting a class, communicating what has worked for you, or mentoring a student.

One of our program goals is to help all students to be successful in the future. Another is to help some of them be success business leaders right here in St. Joseph County where they grew up.

Dear Soon-to-be Senior

There is no other program available to high school students quite like the CEO program. For one thing, you have to apply to be accepted into the program. Each year 40 seniors from all St. Joseph County high schools will be selected. In a way, those selected will have received a scholarship. If you participate, the cost of this part of your education will be independently funded by donations from generous members of your local community.

Another thing you may find is that the program will be both demanding and different. Your teacher will not lecture you but will act as a facilitator and your coach. You will not prove you have mastered the material by returning ideas to the teacher on tests or quizzes but by actually executing your project. Classes will meet at different business locations throughout the county. So to participate you will have to have transportation to arrive each day promptly at 7:30 AM. When each class period finishes you will be expected to be back at your high school to continue your school day.

In addition to gaining insights into how businesses are built and how problems are solved you will meet dozens of local professionals who own and run businesses. We know that some CEO graduates will ultimately need to study and work outside our local area. We wish them well. We also hope that in the years ahead some of you will develop a powerful network of contacts and discover local opportunities that you didn’t know existed. Who knows? You may decide there is no better place to pursue your dream of starting and building your business then right here in North Central Indiana.

Download Student Application

For Parents

The St. Joe CEO program is designed to allow your child to develop some of the skills needed to succeed by starting and running a business. This website contains lots of information that you can explore to see if it is right for them.

For your child to be considered they must attend a high school in St. Joseph County, complete an application and be selected. In a way, those selected will have received a scholarship. The cost of this part of his or her education will be independently funded by generous donations from members of your local community. If selected, your child will need transportation because the classes are held in local businesses, not in school. There they will get to communicate with dozens of highly successful business owners. They can model their behaviors and ask them how they succeeded and how they address obstacles and business problems.

Please understand that this program is not a didactic approach. The teacher will not ‘stand and deliver’ information that they copy into notebooks. Rather the student will be required to ‘deliver’ by developing and then executing on their own business plan.

Talk to your child. If you sense that they are susceptible to “senioritis” or not quite ready to accept such a challenge, this may not be the program for them. But if your child has a burning desire to ‘make their mark on the world’ encourage them to apply.


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