The Power of Entrepreneurial Programs
If two minds are better than one, imagine the power entrepreneurial programs can harness with the brilliance of multiple students from various colleges. Not only do students benefit from sharing ideas, but they're also no longer limited to the resources of their own campuses.
The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation's Entrepreneurship Initiative is such a program, spanning 12 colleges in Massachusetts, including Hampshire College, Holyoke Community College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Started in 2003, the program teaches college students about entrepreneurship through experiential and academic opportunities and encourages them to start businesses while still in school. "[Faculty] advisors attend regular meetings to share syllabuses and ideas, talk about the different opportunities their entrepreneurship clubs and organizations are offering to students, and make these opportunities available to all the students in the area," says Brenda Wishart, director of the HGCF Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Education and mentoring are only part of the program, which also awards about $70,000 in Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards to students annually to help them fund their businesses. Winning the award in 2006 helped brothers Andrew and Alex Cook, 19 and 21, respectively, build Rentabilities.com, an application service provider for tool and equipment rental companies. For the two University of Massachusetts, Amherst students, being part of the program "brought a lot of structure, networking and some funding to the table," says Alex, whose startup has done more than $125,000 in transactions.
Meanwhile, students in New York can benefit from the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative, or Enitiative. Started in 2007 with a grant from the Kauffman Foundation, the program extends through Syracuse University and five other colleges in central New York, including the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "By being exposed to entrepreneurship, students, regardless of major, will be comfortable engaging in the economy," says Bruce Kingma, associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation at Syracuse University. Part of the program is aimed at giving grants to students who start businesses in the area. Check out entrepreneurship.syr.edu for more information.
The desire to spread entrepreneurship is so strong that a program designed for faculty members has been opened up to students as well. The Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education, hosted by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University, has encouraged the sharing of ideas among entrepreneurial educators for 10 years. Students from around the world applied to be part of the fellows program, and in the summer of 2007, 40 students worked for three months on a project related to electric vehicles. They then presented their ideas to the conference in October. To get more information on this year's program, students can go to ree.stanford.edu. Students and educators alike can also check out the free entrepreneurship education resources at edcorner.stanford.edu.