Civic Entrepreneurship for America’s Children

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 2:00 - 5:00 pm ONLINE


This is an LBJ School course, cross-listed with the Law School. This course will be taught online. Contact LBJ if you have questions about how the course will be taught.

This course requires instructor permission to enroll. Application available at

Over 32 million children in the United States grow up poor or near-poor, which means two out of every five kids in America faces increased risk of worse health, education, and future economic outcomes. While many US policies, social enterprises, and nonprofit organizations aim to improve life trajectories for vulnerable youths, some are more effective than others. This course explores pro-child interventions with experiences inside and outside the classroom before giving students the opportunity to take their own shot at improving outcomes for children in-need.

This course, which aims to prepare effective civic entrepreneurs and advocates, answers three fundamental questions about disparities among America’s children:

  1. What do experts say? Alongside guest lectures, debates, and panels with subject expertise, students will investigate social issues impacting children’s health and wellbeing. We will study the evidence on inequalities, debate US government programs and policies, and explore examples of relevant social enterprises and nonprofits.
  2. What do children (and their families) say? Students have the opportunity to see US social policy and programming up-close by e-travelling with Dr. Mike’s “Street Pediatrics” team, a mobile clinic serving children experiencing homelessness and poverty. Our intent is to learn from local families and children facing the problems we will work to solve.
  3. What do you say do? Applying lessons from both the classroom and community, student-entrepreneurs will practice human-centered design in interdisciplinary teams alongside community partner organizations to develop and pitch plans for products or services aimed at improving life trajectories for vulnerable children.


  • To help students develop a deeper understanding of domestic social and economic problems, their impact on children’s life trajectories, and the policies and entrepreneurial programs trying to mitigate their effects.
  • To give students an advocacy platform via writing to both lay readers and policy leaders.
  • To dive deep into the many steps and principles of human-centered design and hypothesis-driven startups—a skillset students can deploy in future studies and careers.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to apply lessons learned in both the classroom and community to build and pitch their own plans for practical solutions to child suffering.


Students will be evaluated based on class participation and performance on four assignments: (1) 500-word Memo to the President; (2) 650-word Opinion Editorial; (3) first and final drafts of a business plan; and (4) final class deliverables, including a one-pager, PowerPoint deck, and 5-minute pitch on their new organization.


Readings may include academic articles, book chapters, listening to podcasts, and lay media pieces. The majority of reading assignments will be required for the first six classes. Students will spend more time working with their teams and community partners during the latter classes when less required readings are assigned.


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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
11/10/2020 Course is cross listed
Course title updated