Online Entrepreneurship Institute
for Adult Educators & Service Providers

PART A: Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sept 25 – Nov 10, 2023*

25 Hours of Professional Development
(5 Weeks)

5 Zoom Classes on Tuesdays from 3:00-5:00pm ET**
Sept 26, Oct 10, 17, 31, Nov 7

NO CLASS / BREAK on Oct 3, 24

**Class recordings are also available.

PART B: Business Plan

Jan 22 – Mar 22, 2024

30 Hours of Professional Development
(6 Weeks) 

5 Zoom Classes on Tuesdays from 3:00-5:00pm ET
Jan 23, Feb 6, 13, 27, Mar 5, 19

NO CLASS / BREAK on Jan 30, Feb 20, Mar 12

**Class recordings are also available.


Ms. Lynn Thompson, Program Manager

Hospitality & Business Career Pathways

International Institute of Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

We launched our Entrepreneurship class in January, 2024.  It was an 8-week class that I wrote the curriculum for based on the material that I received from the COABE Online Entrepreneurship Institute.  

Last week, we graduated 13 students who all passed the U.S. Entrepreneurship Certification Examination.  In a class evaluation, 100% of the adult learners said that they were prepared for the exam (the Practice Exam helped), and 100% also said that the certification was important to them. 

At the end of the class, the students gave their business pitches to a panel of SCORE volunteers.  It was an amazing group and a fun class to teach.  Our Career Advancement Specialist will continue to work with these graduates as they work towards their business goals.  We plan to have our second cohort start in May.


I just wanted to say thanks for all the resources you provided and all the work you have done to make this kind of education possible.  All our students are extremely grateful as well!

Zaman offers entrepreneurship classes to underserved women who were trying to adapt to a new culture, allowing them to use their past technical know-how and apply it in a foreign country while understanding what it takes to own a small business in the United States.  Participants are not only taught how to start a business; they are equipped with the entrepreneurial mindset and skills necessary to thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace and world. 


The COABE Institute was a stepping stone in the advancement of our program.  The resources that were given to us elevated our ESL participants' success beyond measure and offered our program a more structured curriculum with vetted activities.  Institute collaboration with other adult educators nationwide was also beneficial.  Our 14-week program now utilizes a more holistic approach including interactive workshops, hands-on projects, and real-world simulations.  The capstone project is a “Mini Shark Tank Competition” judged by professionals in the field.  The U.S. Entrepreneurship Certification Examination is the culminating program credential.  


We are very proud of our small business owners whose resilience is inspirational.  Entrepreneurship is a beacon of hope where women can be empowered, realize their potential, and transform their dreams into reality.

Ms. Rania Khalil, Workforce Development Coordinator & Entrepreneurship Trainer

B.O.O.S.T. Program (Building Ongoing Opportunities Through Skilled Training) 

Zaman International

Inkster, Michigan

Using experiential learning theory and a free field-tested curriculum,
adult educators and service providers simultaneously learn entrepreneurship content and instructional best-practices by reviewing classroom-ready resources and completing Institute assignments that they can turnaround and use with their adult learners with little to no further preparation. 

COABE Certified Entrepreneurship Educator credential, Certificate of Completion, and Digital Badge included

400+ Free, online resources for teaching entrepreneurship (articles, videos, podcasts, lessons, textbook, PPT, etc.)

Real-world context for teaching HSE academic subjects (math, English, science, social studies) while developing workplace readiness skills

National Zoom breakout groups for WIOA and cross-state/agency collaboration,
lesson planning,
and networking

Put HSE and workforce skills to work (literally) for your adult learners!

Entrepreneurship is an excellent multidisciplinary, real-world context for teaching literacy, basic skills, and HSE core academic subjects (English, math, social studies, science) while simultaneously developing workforce-based skills. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset (opportunity recognition, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, adaptability, initiative, collaboration, etc.) prepares individuals to also become better employees in any career field (intrapreneurship) and solve community problems (social entrepreneurship). Entrepreneurship also seamlessly integrates across workforce development programs and optimizes engagement by unleashing individual potential to pursue unique interests, hobbies, and passions in the new Innovation/Gig Economy. Self-employment is a real “game-changer” for disenfranchised individuals living in impoverished areas because it offers freedom, hope, and empowerment via more personally fulfilling career options while capitalizing on and affirming existing skills and talents. Important life skills are also developed (intrinsic motivation, growth mindset, resourcefulness, resiliency, calculated risk-taking, agency, etc.) by starting simple “side hustles” requiring minimal start-up costs to earn additional income that may lead to full-time careers. 

Using experiential learning theory and a free field-tested curriculum, Institute participants simultaneously learn basic entrepreneurship content and instructional best-practices by reviewing classroom-ready resources (news articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, textbooks, lessons, PPT slides, test bank, etc.) and completing assignments that they can turnaround and use with their adult learners with little to no further preparation. The Institute content is extremely flexible and accessible to a variety of adult programs and easily customizable to organizational missions and target populations. Online modules are mostly self-paced and live Zoom classes feature introductions to supportive community resources, grassroots entrepreneurs who share "lessons learned," and breakout groups for WIOA and cross-state/agency collaboration, resource sharing, and planning. Practical module assignments result in a collection of co-created lessons and workforce-based activities (Part A) and a business plan first draft (Part B) to inspire creative strategies for high quality education and employment outcomes. 

Participants may complete both Part A and Part B in any order for COABE Certification or just complete either Part for professional development hours.  COABE Entrepreneurship Educator Certification, Certificate of Completion, and Digital Badge included.  



$550 for Parts A&B

55 Hours of Professional Development

Or optional 3-hours of undergraduate or graduate credit available for an additional $135 ($685 total)

Please email Dr. Cheryl Ayers at with questions. 

NOTE:  The COABE Online Entrepreneurship Institute for Adult Educators & Service Providers is aligned with the U.S. Entrepreneurship Certification Examination (details linked here), equipping educators and service providers with the content knowledge, instructional strategies, curriculum, and resources they need to successfully prepare adult learners to pass the exam.


Jordan Reaves
Student Success Specialist

Community College Preparatory Academy 

Washington DC


Jessica Untch

High School Equivalency Teacher & Supervisor

Aspire Greater Cleveland



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PART A: Entrepreneurial Mindset


Types of Entrepreneurship

Workplace Intrapreneurship

Entrepreneurial Mindset

Entrepreneur Self-Assessment

Problem-Solving & Research

Entrepreneurial Pathways

Business Opportunity Recognition

Innovation & Design Thinking

Lean Canvas

Lean Startup

PART B: Business Plan


Business Plan

Competitive Analysis

Marketing & Branding
Operations & Resources
Management & Networking
Start-up Costs & Funding Sources

Accounting & Financial Statements

Business Structures & Taxes

Risk Mitigation

Elevator Pitch


Any adult service provider who works in adult education, basic skills and HSE programs, literacy organizations, workforce development, career coaching, employment centers, social services, aging and vocational rehabilitation, benefits/work incentives, disability services, corrections, veterans affairs, American Job Centers, Goodwill Industries, United Way, immigrant services, disenfranchised youth programs (alternative education, juvenile justice, Job Corps, etc.), foster care, substance recovery programs, homelessness aide, community colleges, and other like-minded nonprofit and government organizations.  Separate programs available for secondary teachers.

COABE Certified Entrepreneurship Educators

Click here to see a list of names.


The gift of an entrepreneurial mindset could be life saving for [disenfranchised] populations. They desperately want to support their families but are not being taught that they have other options. They need to hear about the freedom of entrepreneurship to give them hope. Thank you for equipping me.

The resources provided were amazing and can easily be adapted to any student level in a variety of subjects. Our ability to collaborate with such diverse educators throughout the Commonwealth was priceless. What an amazing opportunity to learn from colleagues each class via breakout rooms. Thank You for this life-changing educational opportunity.

This class provided a wealth of information about how the entrepreneur mindset can be used in every subject taught in school and how it will benefit students in life overall, even if they are not interested in being an entrepreneur. These are real life skills and that is what I want to bring into every class I teach.


There were so many resources and materials shared that I honestly can't wait to go back and read through it all again to see what else I can incorporate. I really like the OpenStax free e-textbook. I thought the textbook itself was also quite engaging and (dare I say) fun to read. I want to say thank you for putting this on because it has reignited my love for helping adult learners, and it's sparked so many new, fun, creative activities that I will be bringing to the students. Well worth every penny I paid for.


This class allowed me to think about Integrated Education & Training in a whole new perspective.  The lessons learned and the group discussions helped me discover a new way of teaching adult education in a real-life contextual understanding.  Everything taught in the course was applicable to the classroom and home life.  Our students will now be able to learn the basic skills while also learning how to be an entrepreneur and a better employee.


Dr Cheryl is to die for, she is a delight, her way of delivering the information is beyond great. Her multidisciplinary knowledge in many topics such as economics and business makes her unique. The homework was very detailed and adaptable to customized learning. Thank you Dr. Cheryl, it was a wonderful pleasure to take the course with you.


The breakout rooms were amazing where I met many people from all over the United States, the weekly class went quickly and the guest speakers were great too. Will I refer anyone about this institute?  Absolutely!


The resources and material were both very insightful and provided a great foundation to teach entrepreneurship. I appreciate that everything was presented in a very practical way. I also liked hearing best practices and experiences from entrepreneurs who were able to share at each session. Remarkable class that covered so much information in a short time period. It was well worth my time and money. Thank you so much for creating this valuable class. I have really enjoyed it!


The instructor is so engaging, and did a variety of things to keep everyone energized - polls, chat box, breakout groups, videos, guest speakers, etc.  Consider taking this Institute! This is the most engaging online class I have taken.  Cheryl is just the best!


This institute was very helpful. The different presenters were very motivating and helpful. Their words of wisdom made the class sessions very enjoyable. The resources were awesome. The time period of the class made me look forward to starting the class each Thursday. The presenter, Dr. Ayers, was very thorough, clear and very helpful. She was always available to answer any questions or address any concerns. She made us look forward to coming to class and being placed in the breakout groups.  Being placed in the breakout groups gave us the opportunity to meet classmates from all over the country. This was an excellent institute and one that I will recommend to others and also pursue starting a class in the community.


Bringing a useful subject matter to our adult learners was my main reason for participating in the institute, but I also learned additional steps I can take to strengthen my organization and gathered information I can share with the community. It was well worth attending. Thank you. I will create curriculums for adult literacy classes and community workshops. Thank you so much. You did an awesome job. I will look out for other institutes you facilitate.


I believe it is valuable for entrepreneurship classes to be taught in Adult Education programs nationwide.


This institute combined two elements that were incredibly powerful: first, a step-by-step Business Plan assignment taught us participants the exact steps that any of our future Entrepreneurship students will have to go through and do.  Second, the Institute had an eye on andragogy, HOW to teach our students the class material.  We were always thinking about how to teach our Adult Learners.


This institute was extremely well organized, provided invaluable information in a way that was engaging, provided time to collaborate with peers across the country and provided countless curated resources and concrete activities that we can use in the classroom. I now feel prepared to teach a class on entrepreneurship to my adult education students. The training was Awesome! Thank you so much!

The breadth and depth of information will be invaluable in working with my students, particularly because I have been tasked to teach a prison entrepreneurial program to help reduce recidivism.  I think of the information as a smorgasbord from which I can choose what will be the most relevant concepts and material for my students.  Additionally, I will benefit from the course material personally as I get serious about business ownership. 


Before the course I only thought about entrepreneurship in a way of creating a business, never a mindset. It has taught me to always be forward thinking and consider solutions in everything I do, things around me, and the people I serve. As an inspiring entrepreneur/currently taking the steps to become one, I have gained so much confidence in my entrepreneurial skills/abilities. These resources will help me to continue to be a life-long learner of multiple industries and also spread the knowledge to my colleagues, students, and future clients. I want young adults and older adults who may have given up on their passions to understand the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset and using it for the evolution of positively impacting not only themselves, but communities & the world. Thanks so much for your dedication to this course. It shows, and I really have enjoyed it, and learned a lot!


The Institute was of great value for the following reasons: (1) the personal and professional experience shared by Dr. Ayers; (2) the plethora of resources shared by the instructor; (3) the diverse entrepreneur guest speakers; (4) networking with classmates; (5) the diverse professional backgrounds from classmates. I will use it to write an English Literacy Civics education for the students in my school district.


It is not just about training more workers, because not every person in our country will be hired.  We have to invest in empowering our people to use the skills they know they have in a way that can sustain them.  Entrepreneurship may be their only option for independence and self-sufficiency.


This Institute helped me to realize that there is an entrepreneurial mindset, and you don't have to be born with it. It was a completely novel idea to me that this mindset can be developed and honed. I am sure that there are many students in my adult education program who may have had the same experience as me. They may falsely believe that entrepreneurs are a rare few, born with the talent, savvy, and know-how. I think it is an intriguing idea to share this mindset with adult learners because the skills, processes, and way of thinking can benefit folks whether or not they start a business or just want to be an exemplary employee. It can help them in their personal lives with family decisions, too. 


All of our students may not be thinking of becoming entrepreneurs, but the skills taught in this Institute are applicable to everyday life as a family member, student, employee, business owner, and/or community member.  Dr. Ayers - thanks so much for facilitating a wonderful course. I appreciated your energy, humor, organization, and encouragement as we met for class. Your commitment to and excitement about this topic is evident.


This is invaluable to the adult educator because today's world is quickly becoming an entrepreneur's world. Whether a teacher is interested in becoming an entrepreneur or not, there are many tools and resources shared through this program that make it possible to easily and accurately integrate entrepreneurial knowledge and mindsets into adult education. Teachers are exposed to information and testimonials that can possibly open up a new sense of interest and capability in the entrepreneurial realm.


Dr. Ayers’ passion for this topic was apparent and made the idea of leading workshops on entrepreneurship approachable, even for someone new to the material like me. The fact that she seemingly tirelessly researches and checks resources to make sure they are credible and current helps me feel confident in sharing them with workshop participants. Lessons were logical and easy-to-follow, and I really like knowing about (and now using) OpenStax e-textbook. Thank you for this wonderful course!  I will lead workshops for and support women program participants in pursuing their small business development goals.


This Institute was extremely helpful and opened my eyes to the possibility of an entrepreneurial class for ABE students and why it would be so beneficial. I discussed with my staff the opportunity to hold Entrepreneurial Bootcamps for our learners, as I will be able to share what I have learned from this institute with my students who are currently incarcerated.  Many of them have expressed an interest in entrepreneurship. Great class.


Wow - I am so happy I did this class.  The instructor was captivating and so were the guest speakers.  Even the textbook was good - might go buy a hard copy.  As a participant, many learning styles were used to absorb the information and to participate.  I seriously recommend this class, even if you do not become an entrepreneur yourself, you have very good resources you can tell others about, and support them in their ventures. Another thing I will do is promote the idea of the entrepreneur mindset to others.  I work at a college so pairing it with so many other programs we have is such a beautiful fit.


I like the subtle emphasis of mindset being an important role in helping adult learners become valuable producers in today's economy. Since I've started working with ESL students, I've seen a lot of curricula where there is a lot of emphasis on the skills they need to acquire - reading, listening, writing, critical thinking - but never anything about mindset. I saw so many of my students who were exceptional in their ability to read, write, speak, and think critically, but lacked the confidence to go for the job/opportunity they wanted. It frustrated me because I knew it was a mindset issue, and I struggled to figure out how to help them in that area. Now, I've incorporated more mindset activities in my curriculum from what I've learned through this institute, and I've seen HUGE improvements already in my students' confidence levels to the point where they don't focus on what they're lacking; rather, they are seeing that they add value to an organization/society at large.


This Institute opened my eyes and mind to the realization that the entrepreneurial mindset would be a beneficial decision making adjunct to any student's way of thinking, whether one intends to start a business or excel in a job or career. Mindsets and skills that allow one to recognize opportunity, work through creation of an idea, solve a problem, fill a gap, take a project to profitable fruition and pivot when necessary are essential in this 21st century global economy. And thinking as an entrepreneur is fun and creative as well. This is definitely something my GED students need to hear and learn.


The amount of resources was extremely helpful. I appreciate the format of the institute as well. An equal balance or collaboration, independent work and lectures was an environment that fostered great learning opportunities. Also, thank you for also recording the lectures to watch if we missed class or needed to review the lectures.


The knowledge that I gained will help me to provide my students with a strong entrepreneurship foundation to start successful businesses.  After finishing this institute, I am now confident in my ability to be able to provide my students with training that will definitely equip them to be competitive in starting and marketing their business plans. Dr. Ayers, thank you for organizing an amazing institute!  I look forward to taking another course of yours in the future! You are an inspirational educator! Thanks again!


One statistic that stood out to me was the percentage of entrepreneurs who are immigrants. Most of my students are immigrants and they take ESL classes and learn tech skills with me. Both are foundational to gaining a foothold in American society. Knowing the steps in how to start a business are also important since opportunities for newcomers can be limited. There may be barriers such as work status and language.  Starting a small business or gig could be a way to generate income.


Excellent resources!  I am developing a Bridge (Pre-IET) Class for ELA students on entrepreneurship to prepare them for an IET on Entrepreneurship and this has had excellent information to help develop this for non-native speakers. 


This course was extremely helpful, first I met many educators from all over with whom I was able to share my ideas and brainstorm with. Dr. Cheryl energy and knowledge is very unique. Her wealth of knowledge is more than I have expected to get from the course. Definitely the certification is also a plus for my resume. All the information and resources I got access to will change my students' lives, and I will use them as teaching tools.


As a teacher, I really appreciated that you allow us to share your content and resources in our classes.  Although I teach an entrepreneurship course, I also love the emphasis you put on integrating an entrepreneurial mindset in all K-12 classrooms.  This course would benefit all teachers and their students.  I actually completed our business plan assignment with my class.  They were able to completely create a business by following the plan you gave us.  Great, great class!!  I loved every minute of it!


Thank you for your passion, encouragement, and vision for empowering others who may lack a voice. I like your quote in Zoom Class #5, "Without agency your whole life is less empowered.