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If you are a fan of innovation, entrepreneurship, and education, there couldn’t be a better place for you than Conrad Foundation.

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When I was in high school, I got good grades, did community service work through my church, played baseball and basketball, and ran a fan website about my favorite rapper (it was a long time ago, and it was profitable). It may sound like a lot, but I can’t believe how much time I wasted. High schoolers are capable of a lot, and they need to be challenged. That’s exactly what the San Francisco, CA based Conrad Foundation does. They’re a non-profit organization that challenges “high school students to create innovative products using science, technology, and entrepreneurship to solve real-world, 21st century problems.” They do so through the Spirt of Innovation Awards, which is a competition put on in honor of Pete Conrad (whom the foundation is named after), the astronaut who commanded Apollo 12. Pete was expelled from a prestigious high school because he couldn’t read or spell. It turned out that he was dyslexic, and the headmaster at his new school was able to help him make the most of his genius. After high school he went to Princeton and the moon. Not bad for someone who couldn’t read or spell in high school.

Making the Most of High School

High school is the time to start getting serious about life, yet many talented students don’t get on the right track because they’re not engaged at school. The Conrad Foundation and the Spirit of Innovation Awards is all about giving students an alternative setting to pursue their interests. The Foundation’s vision is three-fold—they envision:

  • An education system where every student is engaged in and excited about learning.
  • An innovative, 21st century STEM workforce capable of solving society’s grand challenges and sustaining our knowledge based economy.
  • A movement in transformative education where innovation and entrepreneurship play an integral role in developing leadership & thinking skills.

The main activity of the Foundation is The Spirit of Innovation Awards Competition, which focuses on three specific areas: Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Cyber Security. You can read about all of the specifics of the competition on the Conrad Foundation site, and if you like what you see, then you may want to consider Getting Involved. They’re looking for Mentors and Supeheros on the volunteer front, but their Jobs page doesn’t show any opportunities. Luckily, I checked on Idealist, which says that they’re looking for an Administrative Assistant and a Fundraising Manager. If you are a fan of innovation, entrepreneurship, and education, there couldn’t be a better place for you.

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