School-based Enterprises

Hands-on learning laboratories that provide practical learning experiences to reinforce classroom instruction.

A school-based enterprise (SBE) is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods/services to meet the needs of the market. SBEs are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality or management.

SBEs provide realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. SBEs can sell to consumers through a permanent location, a mobile kiosk or through Internet marketing. Products may include spirit wear, food and beverage items, school supplies, signs and banners and more, while other SBEs provide services such as creative design, advertising sales and more.

School-based enterprises are effective educational tools in helping to prepare students for the transition from school to work or college. For many students, they provide the first work experience; for others, they provide an opportunity to build management, supervision and leadership skills. While some in the education community have only recently discovered the value of school-based enterprises, educators and DECA advisors have used them as a powerful teaching tool for more than four decades.


Individual Certification

Through the School-based Enterprise (SBE) Individual Certification, DECA members may pursue individual certification in SBE operations through the successful completion of an online exam that measures knowledge and understanding of business operations concepts. The certification program reinforces the integration of National Curriculum Standards and 21st Century employability skills into the SBE learning lab environment.


Chapter Certification

The School-based Enterprise (SBE) Chapter Certification Program provides recognition for outstanding achievement by school-based enterprises and motivates SBEs to strive for excellence and growth. The program provides SBEs with standards for model operations and recognition at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The certification program reinforces the integration of National Curriculum Standards and 21st Century employability skills into the SBE learning lab environment. Earning certification garners international recognition, provides credibility, validates curriculum efficacy and strengthens the relevancy of the SBE as a valuable teaching tool.

Submission Deadline: January 14, 2025


ICDC Academy + Competition

The School-based Enterprise Academy + Competition is held during DECA’s International Career Development Conference. Gold Certified and Gold Re-certified SBEs are eligible to register up to two students for the academy and competition, with the approval of their chartered association advisor. During the academy, participants will experience dynamic professional development sessions specific to the entrepreneurship field, share ideas and learn from other SBEs. During the competition, the participants will present an oral presentation to a business professional judge based on one preselected business standard covered in the SBE Chapter Certification Project. Participants will participate in one of the two categories in which their SBE earned gold certification: Retail Operations or Food Operations. The competition rules, presentation guidelines, and performance indicators are identical for the two competition tracks. The top 10 winners will be recognized in both categories.

Related Resources

Strengthen the connection between classroom learning and hands-on experience in your school-based enterprise by utilizing instructional resources specifically for SBEs. In addition to the resources below, visit the Advisor Resource Center to search for even more webinars, lesson plans and instructional units.

SBE Program Partners

These partners support DECA's School-based Enterprise certification program and School-based Enterprise Academy held during ICDC.


Contact DECA staff
for more information.

Debbie Taylor
Leadership Manager