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Former Colts player launches Entrepreneur Program in Warren Township Schools

Emil Ekiyor Sr., the founder and chief executive officer of InnoPower Indy Inc., is shown Aug. 16, 2023, with a student at the Warren Township Schools' Walker Career Center in Indianapolis. (WISH Photo)

New entrepreneur program in Warren Township

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A former Indianapolis Colts player is bringing his love for innovation to high school students on the far east side of Indianapolis.

Emil Ekiyor Sr., the founder and chief executive officer of InnoPower Indy Inc., said, “Every idea is great. There’s no bad idea. The bad idea is the idea you don’t think of, so that’s what we want to encourage. That’s the spirit we want to encourage.”

Aliya Thompson, a sophomore at Warren Central High School, said, “I want to major in sports management and entertainment and go to college and this is a good way to start.”

The newly launched Entrepreneur Program in Warren Township aims to help high school students start their own businesses while earning 16 college credits; that’s equivalent to one semester.

It’s thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit InnoPower Indy, Warren Central High School, the Warren Township Schools’ Walker Career Center, and Ivy Tech Community College.

Educators say students will spend time with potential customers, mentors and community leaders.

Steve Rogers, the director of the Walker Career Center, said of the students, “Our hope is that they develop the idea, they develop the business, they learn how to pitch and, at the end of the school year, now we’re going to do a pitch contest. We’re going to have some winners, and they’re going to get some seed money to really start that company.”

On Wednesday, the first cohort of students met up with Ekiyor to talk about building an entrepreneurial mindset and navigating life.

Ekiyor spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders. His lone season with the Indianapolis Colts was in 1998, the year Peyton Manning was drafted. Ekiyor also is a previous football coach at Warren Central High School, which won several state championships.

He said, “Going to college helps so much, so we want to promote that as well. So, having those students take this entrepreneurship class, get college credit for this class, learn how to run and start their businesses, fella would be killing so many birds with one stone.”

The school system says the program will open new pathways for these students who were recruited by their teacher of principles of business management.

Thompson says she is looking forward to attending class and achieving her dreams with her parents who also entrepreneurs. “I want it to be a wealth thing, so generational, so starting with my parents and my peers. I know they will empower me. I uplift them and as well they uplift me.”

School officials say they’re looking forward to seeing many more students benefit from this new program.