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Many new hires aren’t prepared for work. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, remote learning during the pandemic left many students short of basic skills, including the ability to work with others.

Such things almost surely won’t be said of the 100 high school students who participated in the Oregon Business Academy’s inaugural Business Week this summer. The students gathered at Oregon State University from July 16 to 22 to learn not only how businesses work, but also how those who run them work together. They learned how to write resumes, participate in job interviews and, thanks to a networking and etiquette dinner, even how to navigate a conversation without straying into political controversy.

Though the business academy is a new organization – it received 501(c)3 status only last year – the business week model is not. It echoes the popular Young Entrepreneurs Business Week program, which had expanded to four college campuses and involved more than 500 students when the COVID pandemic happened, says OBA CEO Anne Adler. It did not survive.

The need for such a program persists, however. Students generally do not graduate from high school with an adequate understanding of the basic principles of business, says Adler. Yet Oregon relies upon the private sector to provide employment, tax revenue and prosperity. The Oregon Business Academy fills that knowledge gap while helping students in grades 9-12 develop skills they’ll need whatever they decide to do.

Business Week is the academy’s cornerstone event. Participating students form teams, and each works throughout the week to identify a product and create a business plan around it. At the end of the week, the teams present their work to a panel of state business leaders.

Even as each team creates a business during the week, it runs a simulated manufacturing company using specialized software that demands timely decisions and holds users accountable for their bottom-line consequences. The teams present their simulation results at the end of the week as well.

To support the teams, the Business Week curriculum includes workshops and tutorials as well as guidance provided by company advisers, many of whom are corporate volunteers; and interns, who often are Young Entrepreneurs Business Week alumni. And each day except Friday, when teams present their work, participants listen to a guest speaker. This summer’s speakers included Willamette Technical Fabricators CEO Alicia Chapman, Rogue Valley Microdevices CEO Jessica Gomez and i.t.motives CEO Tony Seminary, among others.

The Oregon Business Academy plans to double Business Week participation in 2024 and begin to add programs for which Business Week participation will be a prerequisite, says Adler. The academy hopes to add a Marketing Week next year and expand programming in subsequent years.

Like many other nonprofits, however, the Oregon Business Academy runs on contributions, volunteerism and word of mouth. The Papé Group is the academy’s largest corporate supporter, says Adler, and Papé Group CEO Jordan Papé, who chairs OBI’s board, played a leading role in reviving Business Week. Past OBI Board Chair Karen Vineyard serves on the academy’s board, too, as does OBI President and CEO Angela Wilhelms.

Businesses that would like to support the academy’s work can do several things, says Adler, including:

  • Sponsor a student. Business Week tuition is roughly $1,500, which can be difficult for many families to pay.
  • Volunteer. The program relies upon business professionals to serve as company advisers, judges and mock interviewers.
  • Spread the word. As a new organization, the Oregon Business Academy isn’t yet well-known among Oregon’s high school population. Spreading the word to high school students and their families, as well as entrée to high school superintendents, principals and CTE teachers is greatly appreciated.
  • Make it a benefit. A handful of companies have offered to cover tuition for the children of company employees.

If you’d like to know more about the program or support it by volunteering or writing a check, email Anne Adler at or visit