Napoleon Hill Foundation offers entrepreneurship class to SWVA teens with UVA Wise- Cardinal News

As befits a Keys to Success graduate, Amre Funk showed up on time for her Zoom interview.

Funk, an 18-year-old student at Eastside High School in Wise County, had a few minutes between classes.

Funk learned about “Keys to Success” from a lecture at school and decided it might be useful for his photography business.

This young entrepreneur attended online and self-paced classes during class breaks or at home in the evenings and weekends.

“As a business owner, I’m always setting new goals and different goals for myself and my business,” he said. “My biggest takeaway was how to set those goals and how to act on those goals. I feel like this class gave me a better perspective and a better way of thinking about those goals.”

Funk is thinking about his next step after high school.

“In the last few months, I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and a lot of doors have been opened for me,” he said. “I’ve looked at business and I’m also really interested in education.” If he sticks to photography, he would like to study business at UVA Wise.

Funk is one of 122 high school students who have taken the online class since April.

In 2021, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Coal Workforce Development and Training Fund awarded $50,000 to the Napoleon Hill Foundation in Wise to be used for workforce development and training.

The funding helped develop an online course in entrepreneurial skills for high school students in the VCEDA area, which includes Buchanan, Dickinson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.

According to a quote from VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher, the online program “appears to align well with VCEDA’s seed capital program, which encourages entrepreneurs in the region to pursue their goals of starting and sustaining small businesses.” and create jobs.” , in a VCEDA news.

While the online class is new to high school students, “Keys to Success” has been taught at the University of Virginia College at Wise for years.

Napoleon Hill. Courtesy of the Napoleon Hill Foundation.

This book is based on a book of the same name by self-help guru Napoleon Hill, who was born in Wise County in 1883 and died in 1970. His best known book is Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937.

The Napoleon Hill Foundation, located on the UVA Wise campus, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting Hill’s methods and philosophy. Its CEO is Don Greene.

Greene was born the son of a coal miner in Dickinson County. He grew up in a house without running water. In high school he discovered Think and Grow Rich.

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Don Greene and Governor Glenn Youngkin at a meet and greet in Gate City, Virginia in November 2021. Sincerely, Don Greene.

“When I was young, I read every book I could,” said Green, 81. I read motivational books, self-help books, biographies. and she [Hill’s] The name was mentioned several times and then when I found out that he was from this area and was born in Pound, it made me even more excited. So I started reading all his books. [When] Hill mentioned another author, I would follow that book, read it and see where he got his knowledge.

Greene attended Clinch Valley College (later Virginia College in Wis.). After a successful career in banking, he became CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation in 2000.

In the 1990s, Greene began teaching a “Keys to Success” class at the college. These 17 principles include developing certainty of purpose, developing a positive attitude, developing self-discipline, and cultivating creative vision.

One of Greene’s first students was Jack Kennedy, described by the Cardinal News as “Virginia’s most famous court clerk.” The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Wise County is a man with wide interests, including aerospace, astronomy and technology.

jack kennedy

Kennedy describes himself as “somewhat evangelical” in his enthusiasm for Hill’s work. “I give copies of the books to people I connect with, literally all over the world, from France to Israel to Saudi Arabia to young interns who work in the clerk’s office,” he said.

“Workforce development is very important in Southwest Virginia and specifically the central Appalachian region,” he said. Historically, the coal counties, for example, Wise, Dickinson, Russell, Teasall, Scott, Lee, Norton Township, Buchanan County, have all been dependent on major employers, be it Pittston, Westmoreland, Virginia Iron Coal and Coke. Coal Company, where we had labor and mining. Those days are gone.

And as a result of that, we’ve lost a lot of our 25 to 55 workforce because they’re looking for other jobs outside of the region to support their families and continue to live and have quality. from life

“So as a result we are in a population that is skewed towards the young and the old. So our hope for the future is for the young.

“College-educated youth have been exported for about a decade. We export our best and brightest to other regions. And I’m not upset about it. I will never stop anyone from their wishes, hopes, dreams. But if we provide the skills, knowledge, desire, motivation, willingness to interact, learn business and launch our own startups, we want to be creative and entrepreneurial and stay in the same area with family and friends. Which they know and are comfortable with, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it should be encouraged.”

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Kennedy isn’t the only prominent “Keys to Success” graduate.

Chuck Slump Photo Courtesy

Chuck Slamp is the Senior Deputy Attorney General of Virginia.

“When I enrolled in the course as a business student at UVA Wise, I had no idea that the Napoleon Hill Foundation’s ‘Keys to Success’ curriculum would have such a profound effect on me,” Slamp said in a statement emailed to Cardinal News.

Slump became a researcher of Napoleon Hill. The Napoleon Hill Foundation has funded scholarships at this college since 1997.

“After graduation, I applied these principles to my life and career,” Slamp continued. “I am where I am today because of this foundation.

I believe in this course so much that I have continued to teach the principles formally and informally for the past two decades. Years after graduation, UVA Wise asked me to return to campus to teach the course to the next generation of future leaders. “Keys to Success” is a different type of college course. It’s a practical curriculum with real-world application that covers important topics like learning from adversity, budgeting time and money, and going the extra mile. I cannot stress how critical it is to discuss these folk principles with students to help them acquire the skills and knowledge they need to make a difference in the world. “

Another early Keys to Success graduate is Julia McAfee, 66, an attorney who practices in Norton. He was a CPA when he took the class in the 1990s, but dreamed of a career in law.

“It just seemed out of reach for me,” he said. “But I took the class and I’ll never forget it,” Mr. Green wrote on one of my papers.

“And I thought, you know, he’s right. And it’s time, so I might as well do it.”

In 1997, McAfee was accepted into the charter class of Appalachian Law School at Grundy.

Don Green “believes in the people of this area,” McAfee said. And I think he really believes that anyone can achieve their goals if they put their mind to it, and that’s what I admire about Don, is that he never compromises his faith in anything or No one misses out.”

UVA Wise honored the Napoleon Hill Foundation as its 2022 Charity of the Year for “decades of establishing scholarships and generous funds that help students achieve their goals.” The foundation has created six endowed scholarships, three bicentennial scholarships and one professorship in business valued at more than $4 million, according to a college press release. Hundreds of UVA Wise students have been financially supported through Hill Scholarships.

A number of bicentennial scholarships were established in conjunction with UVA’s 200th anniversary in 2017.

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Greene said the foundation’s income comes mostly from book publishing, although it also receives donations. Hill assigned all of his copyright to the Foundation. In addition, Green said he has published approximately 150 books worldwide in the past 20 years. Amazon lists eight books with Greene as author or co-author, including “Napoleon Hill My Mentor.”

The foundation’s best-selling title is Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Green said.

Green earned $257,336 as executive director in 2019, according to the foundation’s publicly available Form 990-PF for that year. Total revenue was $1,215,272. The foundation paid $753,475 in charitable contributions, which accounted for 74.6 percent of its total expenses.

Hill had a huge impact on the self-help industry of the 20th century. However, he is a controversial figure.

In an article published on, Michael Schein wrote: “Before becoming a self-help author, Hill’s life path was marked by a series of embarrassing and embarrassing failures.

“Napoleon Hill is far from perfect,” Kennedy said. “If you read his personal record, it’s colorful. However, his literary works are artistic and at par with other writers of this particular genre. In fact, his writings are the roots of the motivational business genre taught in graduate schools around the world.”

A student does not need to be a future entrepreneur to take the Keys to Success class.

Ethan Cloud. Courtesy photo

Ethan Cloud, 16, a junior at Eastside High, wants to be a surgeon. He attended the class in the Fall 2022 semester.

“I learned about all the principles of success,” he said. “There’s a definite purpose, knowing what you want to do with your life, and knowing the plan you want to put in place to succeed. There’s a Mastermind Coalition, where you find people with similar goals and like-mindedness. And you surround yourself with them to encourage each other to achieve these goals.

Cloud’s goal is to attend UVA Wise on a scholarship and then medical school.

“I think a problem in many [high] “Schools are kids who don’t know what they want to do.” And I think the Keys to Success class helps kids understand that there is life after high school. And it’s not the end of high school, they should start planning for the future as soon as possible to understand the plan and goals they need to prepare.

The next “Keys to Success” online class will begin on January 17, 2023. The instructor, Adam Moore, is the Upward Program Coordinator at UVA Wise. Costs are paid by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Registration link for high school students:


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