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Future Founders career program added to more schools

Brad Keywell  co-founnder GroupLightbank founder Chicago Ideas Week announced new program attract best brightest young minds Chicago news conference

Brad Keywell, co-founnder of Groupon and Lightbank and founder of Chicago Ideas Week, announced a new program to attract the best and brightest young minds to Chicago at news conference, Wednesday, August 3, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: November 26, 2012 7:25AM

Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell is on a mission to introduce inner-city middle school and high school students to professional role models.

“Every person in any career should spend 90 minutes in a classroom at least one time in a school year, sharing their stories and setting an example for the students,” he said. “It’s part of giving back. These kids generally don’t see enough examples of why education is important or who they could be or what they could do.”

Keywell’s personally funded program, the non-profit Future Founders Foundation, has recruited 250 professionals — many of them entrepreneurs — to inspire low-income teenagers to explore careers they never imagined. They talk about economics, salesmanship, negotiating skills, dealing with customers and their career paths.

Keywell spoke Wednesday at a news conference at Chicago Tech Academy, announcing the program’s expansion to six more schools on Chicago’s South and West sides, making for a total of eight schools, serving 525 children.

The professionals will take on an additional task, too. They will use a new curriculum, Pathways to Career,” along with an activity they already lead, giving the students experience with teamwork, networking, goal-setting and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts.

Foundation partners Accenture and CME Group Foundation helped set up the new school partnerships and Accenture helped design the curriculum.

Keywell also is the major backer, with Groupon co-founder, Eric Lefkofsky, of investment fund Lightbank, which has committed to invest $200 million in local startups. So far, Lightbank has helped fund 56 startups, Keywell said.

Though Keywell declined comment on Groupon after the event, he might be interested in a “Made to Be” app designed by Tech Academy students Keautishay Young and Diamond Adell.

It’s a student version of Groupon, offering coupons to local retailers that appeal to teens.

“You can be ‘Made to be’ beautiful, chic or classic,” said Young. “We offer discounts to Hollister, Forever 21, Discovery, 21 Men and other stores we like.”

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