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Summer course for high schoolers merges business and Catholic social teaching

high school girl studying

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J-P Mauro - published on 04/23/24

A new summer course from CUA for high schoolers wants to fan passion and build confidence in the next generation of Catholic entrepreneurs.

A Silicon Valley entrepreneur who spent time as a seminarian discerning a vocation to the priesthood is trying to bring religion back to business. He’s teamed with the Catholic University of America (CUA), in Washington DC, to reach the younger generations.

A report from The Open News cites the entrepreneurial pedigree of Luke Burgis, who attended NYU, worked on Wall Street, launched businesses in Silicon Valley and Las Vegas, and – surprisingly enough – spent five years as a seminarian. While he didn’t decide to become a priest, Burgis came out of seminary seeking to bring greater spiritual significance to the world of business. 

This new calling he found in his religious studies came to fruition in 2020, when he launched the Catholic Entrepreneurship and Design Experience – or CEDE (pronounced “seed”), with the goal of offering young people a way to meld their religious and professional lives. Headquartered at CUA, where Burgis is an assistant clinical professor of business, CEDE has grown in the last four years to offer digital educational resources available around the world. 

CEDE equips students to live out their Catholic values in the business world, introducing students to the principles of entrepreneurship within the context of Catholic social teachings. Burgis explained that the program helps to instill a level of confidence in students, whether they wish to seek a career in business or not. He places a high importance on “[seeing] solutions where other people only see problems,” a trait he feels is “really important for all Catholics.” 

On the CUA website, the school describes the program as “a high school entrepreneurship program driven by experiential and project-based learning”: 

“We believe that a spirit of freedom and play are critical to the entrepreneurial journey. Combining academic rigor with fun and engaging action, CEDE is organized into 3 phases of Discern, Create, and Grow. As such, it is not strictly for those who want to found companies, launch ventures, or go into business. CEDE’s broad and widely-applicable call to an entrepreneurial spirit will serve all students, whether they become priests, parents, teachers, business people, or chefs!”

Students do not need to have a firm idea of a business they would like to create, as the first few weeks of the program are designed to develop an idea. From there, they go through stages of discernment, launch, testing, and review, all the while confronting the many problems that plague a startup. 

Rather than create a successful business, Burgis said that the program is more interested in lighting a fire of passion for business in the students. He wants to see students exercise their creativity, take responsibility and ownership of their work, and, above all, feel the pride of creating something that can serve others through their gifts and talents. 

As the course is entirely online, the program is designed to be flexible and fit into each student’s schedule. CUA welcomes any high schooler aged between 14-18 to apply for the course, which runs from June 10 to August 12.

Visit the CEDE website to learn more about this program and apply today. 

EducationSocial Doctrine of the ChurchVocation
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