The CEO Program enables high school students in rural Illinois to become self-reliant, enterprising individuals who will start successful businesses and contribute to the ongoing economic development of our community.

CEO – Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Our Goals:

  • Inspire and encourage young people to return to their communities to live, work, raise families and start businesses

  • Provide opportunities for students to be engaged, curious and ready to learn

  • Provide real-world, real-life experiences for students

  • Create a learning environment that takes the “lid” off of learning

  • Connect students with business professionals

  • Transform the way young people view the world and their future


The CEO program:

  • Is funded by business investors

  • Is open to high school juniors and seniors

  • Selects students through a rigorous application process
  • Meets for 90 minutes each day

  • Provides 2 high school credits

  • Utilizes area businesses as classrooms

  • Visits dozens of area businesses each year

  • Hosts a variety of guest speakers each year

  • Emphasizes 21st century Learning skills

  • Provides opportunity for each student to start their own business

  • Provides a mentor from the business community for each CEO student

  • Hosts an annual trade show to showcase student businesses

The CEO program was developed about 5 years ago in the 6 high schools of Effingham County, IL by educator Craig Lindvahl.

Entrepreneurship education seeks to prepare people, especially youth, to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities.  The CEO program is much more than a textbook course.  Rather, students are immersed in real life learning experiences with the opportunity to take risks, manage the results and learn from the outcomes.

Entrepreneurship education is not just about teaching someone to run a business.  It is also about encouraging creative thinking and promoting a strong sense of self-worth and accountability.  Through entrepreneurship education, students learn how to create a business and more.

The CEO class covers the basics of conceptualizing, starting and running a small business.  Concepts such as supply and demand, cost/benefits analysis, competitive advantage and opportunity recongition are covered.  In addition, coursework includes: innovative thinking strategies, product development, business structure, marketing, financial strategies, record keeping, preparing and 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 and is linked to the Illinois Learning Standards.

This is not an educational program about business; rather it is a long range economic development program that is built upon our students who are our future.

Please direct general inquiries to info@unioncountyceo.org.
Union County CEO Program

Show your support by making your tax deductible donation to SICF or mail your check to: SICF, PO Box 1772, Marion, IL 62959.



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