Internships and Scholarships for Youth


The Builders Strengths Lab identifies young people who are eager to work together, start a business and do something important for the economic growth of their city. This internship program selects student entrepreneurs for a work and learn experience which builds their individual talents.  The Strengths Lab is a nonprofit organization working with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, The Clifton Foundation and Gallup.  The goal is to partner with the city to develop 1000 new entrepreneurial leaders in the next ten years.   The 5-week summer experience starts is July 5-August 5, 2016.   The semester experience for high school students starts in January 2017.

Strengths Lab Principles:

  • Identify talent early and provide challenging experiences.
    Young people with energy and ideas to start something live in every zip code.  Strengths Lab brings together students from different high schools to work together in teams while growing their individual expertise.  A recruitment campaign across the city will encourage students with interest to apply. The first cohort begins in summer 2016 and includes 25 students.  In January 2017, a semester cohort will launch to serve 25 students. The program will expand in enrollment size each semester.   Gallup has studied entrepreneurs for over thirty years and identified early motivational factors.   These strengths are equally prevalent in different races, socio-economic groups and genders.  They are often different from academic talents.
  • Strengths First: Every Student a Playlist
    Each Builder will start with a profile based on strengths for school and work.  Each will have one or more identified goals for building an identity to stand out in the future.   They will determine what unique contribution they can make to the community and who will benefit most from that product or service.Interests and differences will be key considerations in creating the work plan. Each student will have a strengths coach who meets with them weekly to track their individual growth and learning. Their strengths playlist, a series of goals, is architected for their responsibilities at work, business ideas and community values. Additionally, students will partner with and interview local entrepreneurs.
  • A School Work Partnership
    We believe learning and work should be seamless.  The best workplaces challenge each associate to contribute and learn every day.  The best schools give ownership and responsibility to young people and get them excited about the future.  The Strengths Lab plans to work closely with DC high schools and UDC to provide dual enrollment and scholarship opportunities. Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholars will mentor high school students through the internship.Each student will serve a startup, spending quality time with an entrepreneur-mentor and adding value to their workplace. Each week a new business principle is learned through a challenge the students have to accomplish together. Their community capstone serves as demonstration and launch of their business idea and showcases their career readiness and growth.Good lives and good jobs happen when people have a chance to do what they do best:    Every student starts the week with strengths education and personal coaching.   The internship includes time with experts on entrepreneurship, technology and leadership.
  • Teachers and Coaches will be Selected from the Top in the Country
    Gallup has been studying and selecting top teachers and coaches for over 40 years.  This process identifies teachers, specialists and mentors who are best at developing students’ talents.  The Builders Strengths Lab will staff some positions and contract with experts and leaders to present and lead special sections and experiences.  Community mentors will be people who have built successful businesses, who love their work and who know how to keep students excited about their goals.


The Strengths Lab for Washington Builders will enroll students into two developmental programs—the 5-week Entrepreneur Launch Challenge and the 18-Week Washington Builders Internship.


  • Higher eligibility and graduation rates
  • Certificate in Strengths-Based Entrepreneurship
  • Career Portfolio
  • Higher hope, engagement and wellbeing evidenced in student surveys
  • Willingness to mentor students in the future
  • Long-term follow-up will examine how Strengths Academy participation affects employment and life happiness.


The Future Project sponsors dream directors in DCPS high schools.  They build culture by encouraging students to spot needs, name their dreams and build teams to reach the dream goals.  Students in the project become candidates for Strengths Academy.

NFTE, BUILD, and Junior Achievement are organizations with interest in collaboration.  Students in DCPS Career Academies and these organizations are high potential recruits to The Entrepreneur Strengths Lab.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund has supported students in HCBUs for years.  Their scholarships enable students who might not have college opportunity.   They are ready to build a pipeline with high school students.

George Washington University Business School summer 2015 entrepreneur fellows brought together community business starters, innovative teachers, and students to begin the design of Entrepreneur Strengths Lab.  Their faculty continues to be interested in providing business education to high school entrepreneurs.

Gallup invests in strengths and entrepreneur education by providing experts and experiences for youth in the internships.