The Community College Entrepreneurial Pathway Program, which is funded by the Coleman Foundation and directed by the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State, in Fesno, CA, is off to a successful start.
The project is designed to partner community colleges with the Lyles Center in an effort to build curricula, classroom content and community support for students interested in entrepreneurship. The program will work closely with the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Central Valley Business Incubator (CVBI). The ultimate goal of the grant is to produce a higher yield of successful business start-ups in the Central Valley. The initiative hopes to do so by encouraging cooperation and collaboration between the various educational institutions in the area.
During the first year, five Coleman Scholars were chosen: Brent Calvin from the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Monte Paden from West Hills College in Lemoore, Ida Ponder from Colombia College in Sonora, Eric Nasalroad from Reedley College and Alex Brandenburg from Porterville Community College. The program provides extensive resources and support to the scholars as well as education on entrepreneurship.
The scholars, who are faculty members at the various community colleges, are the driving forces behind the development of entrepreneurship programs on their respective campuses. They are laying the foundation for courses and programs with the goal of forming a consistent pathway for students to launch their businesses and continue onto four-year universities.
To help accomplish these goals, the scholars will receive numerous benefits throughout the three-year initiative, including a yearly stipend for their efforts.
During the initial year, the program has worked toward developing curriculum and running nine workshops that focus on development and coaching. During the first year, the scholars attended the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship’s (NACCE) annual convention in San Antonio, TX. The conference gave them the necessary skills to implement entrepreneurial courses and programs on their campuses. The scholars also attended intensive training conducted by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and participated in several of the nine workshops at Fresno State. The scholars have begun aligning future introductory entrepreneurship courses between the community colleges and Fresno State.
In addition, they are making progress toward creating several chapters of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) on the various campuses. Last November, some of the scholars and their students attended the CEO annual convention in Chicago, which was attended by more than 1,200 students from across the country.
In the program’s second year, five additional Coleman Scholars will be chosen from five more community colleges in the Central Valley. The program hopes to offer introductory courses on the original five campuses as well as work toward developing new curriculum. The scholars hope to establish business incubators on the primary campuses. The scholars will continue to attend NFTE and NACCE trainings and conferences and continue to attend the workshops offered at Fresno State.
During the third and final year of the initiative, introductory entrepreneurship classes will be offered and more incubators and CEO chapters will be established. The main outcomes that the initiative hopes to attain on all 10 campuses by the end of the three years are significant enrollment numbers in the courses, knowledge gained by the students and considerable amounts of business start-ups and matriculations to four-year universities.
Because this initiative is the first of its kind, the Central Valley will serve as a model that can be implemented in other areas. The program is open to all community college campuses throughout the San Joaquin Valley and is now accepting applications for the 2008/2009 year.
To learn more about the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit www.lylescenter.com or call Genelle Taylor, associate director of the Lyles Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, at 559.294.2045.