By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Over 25 years ago an innovative program was launched at the Wharton School funded by alumnus Michael Milken and Lisa Hoffstein, from the 1988 graduating MBA class, was hired to create a program to impact the surrounding area and involve business students in the schools.

Forty high school students were recruited from West Philadelphia, University City and Overbrook High Schools among others and the inaugural group attended a two week MBA-style boot camp at Wharton that August followed by a year of mentoring by Wharton’s MBA volunteers.

Students learned the basics of business and all developed a business plan to start micro-enterprises. The year culminated with a venture capital board in which students were awarded seed capital grants.

It was perhaps the first program of its kind in the country and continued for fourteen years. Today more than 25 businesses are employing others and serving as models.