BOSS selected nation’s best in UEDA competition

October 9, 2020 |

BOSS is truly the boss.

Tim Scales talks with a George Washington High School student

In July 2019 Tim Scale works with a George Washington High School student during the BOSS Summer Camp. Photo courtesy of Victor Hill, Shadowbox Photography

That’s lingo for being the best, something that’s fitting for the entrepreneurship curriculum that was founded by IU East’s Tim Scales in 2007. Scales is the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Economic Education, and senior lecturer at IU East.

It was selected the winner in the Talent Category of the 2020 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Awards of Excellence.

“I am so thrilled,” Scales admits. “It’s been a great, fun and productive 13 years.”

BOSS is an acronym for Business Opportunities for Self Starters. The 54-hour program was designed to introduce local high school students to economics and entrepreneurship and teach them how to produce a business plan. It is guided by teachers who have undergone three days of curriculum training.

Scales believes the first-place honor will help IU East.

“When this happens, it exposes us across the U.S. It adds credibility and builds more awareness … so the program can expand,” Scales said.

He originally was awarded BOSS funding from the state for just two years and added a third because he had money left over. “After that, we built interest and community support,” he said.

By steadily gaining new audiences and new funding, BOSS has reached beyond the original nine counties it started in and become known around the world in places such as India, South Africa and Mexico. Scales promises there will be “no slowing down; we will continue to grow the program.”

BOSS’ mainstays have included flexibility, adaptability and a personal touch. Schools that use the curriculum can adapt the program to best fit their needs.

The program also was a finalist for an award from the University Economic Development Association in 2017 and 2019. Two other IU East programs from the Center for Entrepreneurship were first-time finalists in 2020: Cash Equals Opportunities (CEOs) in the Talent Category and In Your Business Television in the Talent & Place Category.

The total of three was the highest in the nationwide competition that includes regional schools as well as major universities that feature enrollments in excess of 30,000 students. The University of Kentucky took a pair of first-place honors, while Jackson State, Seton Hall and California State-Northridge also had one apiece. Read more about the awards on the UEDA website.

portrait Tim Scales

Tim Scales

Last year, BOSS showed scalability (success elsewhere), something the UEDA judges noted they wanted to see after the 2017 awards. This year, a new online program showed adaptability during the pandemic.

Scales helped IUPUI pilot a 2019 summer camp for George Washington High School in northwest Indianapolis after a request from Teresa Bennett, who is assistant vice chancellor for Community Engagement at IUPUI and interim executive director of SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center.

Bennett had learned about BOSS at an UEDA conference. She asked Scales if he would share the curriculum and/or advise the IUPUI team from Kelley Business School on how to plan for the  camp. “Tim went further than I even hoped by offering to share his secret sauce and curriculum. He even offered to instruct the five-day pilot camp for us,” Bennett said in an email.

Scales worked for weeks with the IUPUI team, teachers and administrators at the high school and modified the program so it could fit into one week. He secured funding and prepared hands-on projects, Bennett said, and then drove from Richmond to attend every day of the camp.

“Tim asked nothing in return,” Bennett said. “(He) became known to the students as Uncle Tim and by the last day it was clear that he had succeeded in giving every George Washington High School BOSS student an amazing and meaningful experience. They were all sad to say goodbye to him and each other.”

Scales revels in that kind of connection. In fact, he says BOSS has been introduced to “4,200 kids and I have interacted with every single one of them.”

He was shadowed by Peggy Daniels Lee to better understand how BOSS works. “Tim spent a day walking the IUPUI-Kelley BOSS team through the BOSS curriculum and helped us to prepare to host the camp ourselves,” said Lee, who is an associate emeritus professor at Kelley. “Tim is a very generous colleague.”

Bennett and Lee have secured grants to expand the camp to all four IPS high schools beginning in 2021.  “We can’t express enough our gratitude to ‘Uncle Tim’ for his willingness to make BOSS available to IUPUI and Indy high schools. The impact will be lasting,” Lee said.

Scales led a presentation to the UEDA two weeks ago that described how the BOSS program has changed. “COVID-19 made me realize we might not be in class for a year or two,” he said. “So the modules are something we could modify quickly and put on online. I may not meet the students in person, but I’ll get to see them through Zoom.”

UEDA Executive Director Tim Hindes alluded to the need for adaptability in announcing this year’s honors.

“Never before has economic engagement of higher education institutions been more critical to our economic redesign,” Hindes said in a release. “UEDA’s model of highlighting best practices in economic engagement continues to locate, highlight, and recognize those initiatives that best exemplify sustainable models that are making remarkable, positive impacts on regional economic ecosystems across North America.”

Ironically, Scales was unable to watch the online announcement of winners. “I was actually teaching a Freshman Seminar,” he said.

IU East student Cole Fosbrink stepped in to give the acceptance speech.

“It was great to see him win with the BOSS program because he has earned it over the years,” Fosbrink said. “So, winning it this time was a great thing. It is also a great achievement for IU East.”

Fosbrink and fellow students Johnny Fike and Joao Vitor de Lima lead the CEOs program that is designed to teach financial literacy to high school students around the area.

Fosbrink is from Seymour, Fike from Bradford, Ohio, and de Lima from Curitiba, Brazil.

“It was a fantastic experience, and we hope to do it again (be a finalist) next year in Georgia,” Fosbrink said, noting that COVID-19 is likely to affect the high-school presentations throughout the current school year. “We are grateful for the opportunity, and we are eager to keep working and be successful next year as well.”

Scales has recorded more than 400 episodes in 16 years as host of In Your Business.

Each 30-minute program features an interview with a local business leader who offers a peek into their companies and how they have succeeded. The shows are recorded and aired through Whitewater Community Television (WCTV).