Sept. 22--From the time he opened his first retail shop -- Free People, filled with secondhand and vintage clothes, scented candles, and inexpensive jewelry -- more than 40 years ago, Richard Hayne has cut across the grain.
That first "hippie store" just outside the University of Pennsylvania campus morphed into Urban Outfitters, the store, soon the chain, and finally the empire, with a collection of brands -- Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, and BHLDN.
It left Hayne a very wealthy man, and one not shy to preach, in his own fashion, the gospel of entrepreneurship. For the last year, through his influence and a $5 million donation, he has been proselytizing at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where he serves as chairman.
Last year, the school launched its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), a school within a school, designed to give students tools perceived necessary to thrive in today's world, and a taste of what it takes to create and build a business.
Priscilla Sands, SCH Academy's president, said the school embarked on a mission about six or seven years ago to identify critical skills sought by employers and design a curriculum to address them.
That hunt included long discussions with Hayne, who declined to be interviewed for this article.
"He has been hugely generous with his time," Sands said.
What resulted was a seven-pillared curriculum that focuses on communication skills, engineering and new media, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, statistics, and being comfortable in a global community.
Students are challenged to create their own businesses, and given guidance to do so.
Not every path was straight ahead. Sands recalled with a laugh the efforts of a group of middle-school girls to raise money to fund women's health issues in developing countries. They did so by buying chickens to raise and selling the eggs.
Well, the school bought the chickens -- and a not-inexpensive chicken coop from Williams-Sonoma.
The biggest buyer of the eggs? Sands.
"I told my husband to eat them very slowly," she recalled. "They are the most expensive eggs in the world."
Last week, the school celebrated the start of CEL's second year by ringing the opening bell of Nasdaq's trading day Tuesday and launching a "venture incubator," where students will work with established entrepreneurs to build their own businesses.
Where does it go from here?
"Five years from now, I would hope the CEL is so integrated in the overall curriculum," said Sands, "that it is as much a part of the faculty's mind-set and the student mind-set as anything else."