Youth Invited to Compete in Entrepreneurship Challenge

Two K-State 105 partners — NetWork Kansas and K-State Research and Extension — are collaborating to bring the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge to new heights as one of the leading youth entrepreneurship competitions in the state of Kansas.

A first-of-its-kind commitment from K-State Research and Extension and Kansas 4-H will fully fund the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge, or KEC, which is a program of the NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship (E)-Community Partnership. The contribution involves nearly $100,000 in program support for KEC per year for three consecutive years, beginning with the current 2023-24 competition year.

“A next-generation land-grant university is invested in the future, and that is exactly what we are doing as we partner with NetWork Kansas to build up the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge,” said Gregg Hadley, Kansas State University assistant vice president and director for extension. “Young entrepreneurs are the future of economic prosperity in Kansas, and it’s a natural fit for K-State Research and Extension to support a program that builds on youth development in all 105 counties in Kansas.”

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge represents the culmination of a sequence of community-based entrepreneurship competitions for students in grades 6-12, known as the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, or YEC, series.

NetWork Kansas, a statewide entrepreneurial organization, coordinates the YEC series and KEC in partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship in the K-State College of Business Administration. The 2023-24 competition year marks the 11th annual YEC season.

During the most recent 2022-23 competition year, the YEC series held 56 local-level competitions featuring 1,136 high school and middle school students from across Kansas. More than $90,000 in prize money was awarded to winners across the state. First place winners of local YEC events, plus 15 wild-card entries, advanced to KEC, which occurred at K-State in spring 2023.

At KEC, young entrepreneurs competed in three rounds of live mock board rooms and a separate, optional trade show as well as a networking game. Overall, $65,000 in total prizes were awarded in the 2023 KEC high school division.

“We at NetWork Kansas are so excited to announce our partnership with K-State Research and Extension,” said Amara Kniep, director of E-Community partnership. “Their dedication to serving Kansans and offering resources across the state aligns closely with our mission. We are very much looking forward to working together to provide hands-on learning opportunities for youth across all 105 Kansas counties.”

For K-State Research and Extension, the collaboration represents an opportunity to extend another proven program to build vital communities across the state. The strengthened partnership with NetWork Kansas creates a pathway for future work.

“Through 4-H, K-State has a long history of providing high-quality positive youth development programming in all 105 Kansas counties,” said Sarah Maass, program director for 4-H youth development. “I’m excited to continue the momentum through this new partnership with NetWork Kansas. The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge provides a unique educational opportunity to empower young people, which is a key element of the 4-H mission.”

New materials, including updated competition guidelines, are available to help support series coordinators and competition organizers. Watch a video to learn more about the YEC series.

Key dates for the 2023-24 competition year include:

  • March 19, 2024: Cutoff date for sanctioned community entrepreneurship competitions.
  • March 19, 2024: Wild-card entries for KEC State Championship due.
  • March 19, 2024: Executive summaries for KEC State Championship due.
  • April 16, 2024: KEC State Championship at K-State.

For more information about the YEC series, visit To learn more about KEC, visit