Young Americans have high aspirations, according to a new poll released Thursday by Gallup-HOPE. More than three quarters of students in grades 5 to 12 want to be their own boss, and nearly half plan to start their own business.
The polling company Gallup partnered with Operation Hope, an organization that encourages economic education, to create the poll, which measures student entrepreneurial excitement and motivation, as well as financial and entrepreneurial knowledge. Leaders from both organizations have framed these issues as key to America's economic future.
"I think what would change America, bring it back, [help it] not get wiped out by China would be if we simply doubled the amount of economic energy we have in 5th through 12th graders," Jim Clifton, chairman of Gallup, said at a recent event announcing the poll.
A high percentage of students who responded to the survey seem to have that excitement and an entrepreneurial mindset. More than 9 in 10 students say they aren't afraid to take risks and 85 percent of respondents say they never give up, two key entrepreneurial traits, according to the poll.
But high school students may be getting a slow start. Less than a quarter of students in high school say that they work an hour or more at a paying job, and just 5 percent of students in grades 5 to 12 have an internship.
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The poll, which included responses from 1,721 American students in grades 5 through 12, found that students aren't getting much more help in the classroom, either.
Just half of students say that their school offers entrepreneurial classes, and fewer than 6 in 10 respondents have a bank account. Older students were more likely to have an account, but just barely: 60 percent of high schoolers have an account with money in it, compared with 54 percent of respondents in grades 5 to 8. Only 54 percent of all students say that their school has taught them about money and banking.
John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation Hope, says financial literacy is imperative for the nation.
"This issue of financial literacy is not just a poor persons' issue, [and] it's not a minority persons' issue," he said at the announcement event. "It's fundamental to the health of a democracy and a growing middle class."