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Springer reflects on the successes of CEO Program

Back in 2017, the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development partnered with the Galesburg Community Foundation to bring the CEO Program to Knox County. The CEO Program is a once-daily 90-minute off-campus experience for high school juniors and seniors. The class learns business concepts over the school year, tour local businesses, talk to and learn from local businesses owners and even launch their own for-profit business. KCAP President Ken Springer says the program now has six students from four different high schools around the county. “Already, just in the first few months of the program, the growth and development for those students in terms of their business acumen, their communication ability – it’s just been off the charts,” Springer said. “Anybody that’s had a chance to interact with CEO students comes away with the same impression like, “Holy cow these are some really, really awesome kids.”

The program currently runs in forty cities in six states throughout the nation. Springer says the program will continue every year for the foreseeable future. He adds that it’s not a book-learning experience. “We’re not going after the student who is acing every test and getting 1600 on their SAT,” He said. “That’s not necessarily the type of learning that CEO provides. So what we’re really looking for are good, honest, trust-worthy kids that are hard-working. Maybe they’re a little bit bored with a typical school day. We take those type of kids because that’s really energy and type of thinking that’s going to make someone successful as an entrepreneur.” Springer says KCAP has begun recruiting for next year’s class. The competitive application process is not unlike applying for a position with a company: students provide references and written justification for why they belong in the class. The application process is 100% digital and will open on February 1st. To apply, visit the CEO Application Website.  

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