01/24/2013 10:59 am ET Updated Mar 26, 2013

Solving the Jobs Crisis Begins With Empowering One Another

By Claire Topalian, Communications Manager at Startup Weekend

In the United States, it's never been more clear that we need entrepreneurs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate remains stagnant at 7.8 percent, nearly 3 million Americans have fallen into a "long-term"unemployment category (lasting 27 weeks or longer), and even those able to find jobs are 40 percent more likely to resort to temporary positions.

Entrepreneurship is a natural rival to job scarcity. The Kauffman Foundation reports that "firms in their first year of existence add an average of 3 million jobs per year" and concludes that startup firms are "responsible for all net job creation during most years." Further, entrepreneurs are characteristically ambitious, creative individuals, capable of surviving -- and often thriving -- in less than ideal economic climates. Ultimately, entrepreneurs create more than jobs -- they are the innovation leaders of every community, and their action-based personas make their local (and national) presence a force to be reckoned with that leaves a lasting impact. In order to combat the jobs crisis in a sustainable way, we must address how we can better support our most essential source of economic growth so that they can accomplish what they do best: tangible, industrious problem solving.

Although the emergence of more jobs is just one influential result of the work we do, we have come to understand more and more that Startup Weekend is truly making an extraordinary dent in the U.S. jobs crisis. As we check in with past event participants, now members of our growing, vibrant community, we find that many are still with their co-founders from Startup Weekend and are gradually hiring more people to work for their startups. In this way, Startup Weekend generates a self-empowerment strategy that has led to a chain-reaction in the startup world: new entrepreneurs are helping others become entrepreneurs. We recognize that nearly all net job creation comes from newly created firms, and therefore, as an organization acting in the name of human welfare, we have a unique responsibility to provide what we can for entrepreneurs. With this long-term vision in place, we hope to create many more jobs by enabling more high-growth firms that consistently present more opportunities.

Startup Weekends accomplish this task by delivering low-pressure, fast-paced environments that connect people with mentors, resources, and most importantly, with one another. De-mystifying and democratizing entrepreneurship begins with subverting the myth that entrepreneurs are isolated or "lone achievers." For many, all it takes to act on an idea is to gain support and interest from one other person. Startup Weekend aims to disprove any debilitating mentalities about entrepreneurship that cause people to hesitate in a time when we need action most.

To have a lasting impact on the job market, it's crucial to focus on not only creating more entrepreneurs, but better and more capable entrepreneurs, and this is why Startup Weekend is rooted in education above all else. While the Internet in particular serves as a catalyzing force in breaking down many barriers for new firms, it is important to meet the urgency that technology and progress has created for modern entrepreneurs by providing the "missing pieces" required to support new ventures: education, methodology, an action-based environment. In doing so, entrepreneurs are better prepared upon entering into the now more accessible startup world. Stable, growing startups generate more jobs, and by providing the right tools from the start of each entrepreneur's journey, we are able to position entrepreneurs with greater odds for success and growth.

According to recent surveys taken by a small sampling of 2,500 out of over 100,000 past attendees, about one-third found a job as a result of attending a Startup Weekend and 6% of attendees were able to offer employment and create jobs for about 2-3 other people after six months. According to this data, Startup Weekend has generated thousands of jobs in the past year. Over 10,000 startups have launched at Startup Weekend, and a small sampling of just 75 of these startups established in 2011 accounted for a total of 260 new jobs in the past year. Just this week, we checked in with another sample of 50 startups and found that over 325 full-time jobs were created from these startups alone. In order to continue empowering communities to drive economic growth, we will use all of our Crowdrise donations to further our movement and specifically target struggling communities in the U.S. that need entrepreneurship most.

This January, Startup Weekend celebrated the creation of over 100,000 entrepreneurs -- a pivotal achievement that encourages our work and sharpens our focus and intention for the coming years. As more entrepreneurs are created, communities will continue to develop and embrace innovation, and we will understand more fully, on a national level, that entrepreneurship has always been and continues to be a cornerstone of what our country was founded on: taking bold action in the midst of hardship.

Our best hope for progress lies in supporting one another and fostering innovation in our communities. With your help, we can stand up to the jobs crisis and create jobs for our neighbors and ourselves. Contribute today and help us put Americans back to work.