Developing Young Leaders for Sustainable Change

StandWatch Academy (SWA) is an adventure leadership course that leverages the vast experience veterans and small business owners to teach young people how to conceptualize, launch, and lead their own social enterprises, issue campaigns, missions, and nonprofit organizations. The end result is a young person with the confidence, leadership ability, and basic entrepreneurial skills needed to create economic opportunities for themselves and their communities.  We believe that this is the best way to create an entrepreneurial mindset in depressed areas where economic opportunity is lacking; one motivated young person at a time.

The SWA leadership course teaches entrepreneurship, business planning, team-building and leadership skills in an dynamic setting that encourages students to test their mental and physical endurance in a supportive environment that’s free of distractions. The courses teach the following:

  • Leadership and followership
  • Civics, history, and American exceptionalism
  • Innovation, adaptability, and creativity
  • Social entrepreneurship

Ultimately, our expeditions have two objectives; motivate and inspire the kids by introducing them to the areas of the country that have inspired others throughout our nation’s history while helping them complete a short business plan for their nonprofits or social enterprises.  During our latest Southwestern Expedition, ten students completed all of the research and prep work they needed to write their business plans, while seeing things they might never see again. Each student chose his or her issue and approach to “fixing” the problem, and they include things like improving the foster care system through a faith-based initiative, coming up with new ways to fight poverty and the opioid epidemic, and lifting people up by starting a clothing and apparel company that places its manufacturing shops and good jobs in disadvantaged communities across the United States.

We believe that every young person should know that, no matter what their economic condition, creating a job is infinitely better than finding a job.  StandWatch Academy’s leadership course motivates and prepares young social entrepreneurs to bring about significant social change in a setting like no other.  A lot of nonprofits strive for sustainable change.  Our academy creates the leaders that can make that happen.

Why Use an Outdoor Approach?

There is little doubt that being outdoors produces tangible benefits for people.  Witnessing the incredible scale of God’s earthly creation places everything we know in context.  There is no better place to learn about one’s ability to enact change in this world than through outdoor discovery.  Besides this, using an outdoor approach benefits students by:

Placing them in a distraction free environment where technology doesn’t play a role.Teaching both self-reliance and how to operate as part of a team; an extremely tricky thing to do and something that we believe can ONLY be achieved outside of a traditional classroom.

Providing a sense of adventure and excitement that may be absent for some students in a traditional classroom environment.

Students will apply leadership and problem solving skills while experiencing the majesty of God’s natural wonders.  It’s a transformative experience that can’t be found in a classroom setting. After completing a course,  students are left with validated plans for their own nonprofit organizations, valuable business strategies, and leadership experiences that will benefit them as they grow older.  It’s a win for students, and it’s a win for the communities where they live.

Who is Eligible to Go?

The academy is open to both boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 18 years-old. Students should be enrolled in high-school, or have a high-school diploma/GED. College students in their freshman or sophomore years are also encouraged to apply.  Each prospective student must complete an initial application to be accepted into the program. We will interview each applicant to make sure they are committed to completing the course. Special consideration will be given to students interested in developing ways to bridge the civil-military divide, promote entrepreneurship, and finding faith-based approaches to today’s social challenges. We also have a specific number of slots available for certain at-risk populations.  

Investing in Building a Better Future

Tuition for the course is $2450 per student and covers 7 days of overnight travel, book fees, and instructor fees.  Our goal is to fund scholarships for 15 students per semester.  We are asking companies and interested individuals to support one student by funding one full scholarship. If at all possible, and you can fund additional scholarships, we will place a dedication page on our printed course materials, website, and social media channels recognizing your fantastic support.  The money for each scholarship will be used in the following way:

  • $1300– Expenses for seven-day retreat
  • $100– Book fees for printed materials used during instruction
  • $500 – Activities before and during the retreat
  • $550 – Instructor fees for SMEs teaching courses

The opportunities that your contribution will create span across the entire region and will help break a cycle of dependency for an economically disadvantaged young person.  In essence, the funds will help us teach entrepreneurship as a trade skill. Once a young person knows how to start and run a small business, be it a nonprofit or social enterprise, they will always have hope for a better future.  Your firm’s support will make that happen.