The Joy of Discovery at #NACCE2022


Have an idea for a fundraising initiative at your college or seeking workforce development ideas that will work in your region? Sign in to NACCE’s new “Joy of Discovery Innovation Lab” and you can check out what other community colleges are doing in these spaces. 

The new Innovation Lab, which made its debut at the NACCE2022 Annual Conference in Boston this week, enables you to tap into a large network of community college users who are sharing ideas and models covering a broad range of initiatives at their respective colleges. 

“For entrepreneur educators, this is the toolbox of the 21st century for designing and testing entrepreneurial approaches and programs,” said NACCE President and CEO Rebecca Corbin. “It is a live connection point to share, shape, and sharpen ideas to creatively address challenges facing community colleges across the nation.”

Sharing Innovation

The Innovation Lab platform is a critical component of NACCE’s Entrepreneurial College of the Future (ECOF) program, a nationwide initiative to create a collective framework of best practices for the country’s 1,100 community colleges. Fifteen community colleges kicked off the ECOF in June during an ideation workshop in Charlotte, NC. Their work led to the creation of the Innovation Lab, which was co-designed by NACCE and ITM Mobile, a company specializing in custom development of IT solutions and co-founded by Thomas Hallin, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Barstow Community College in Barstow, CA. 

“We built the prototype of the NACCE Innovation Lab by conducting initial discovery interviews, creating mockups, and tapping into our professional experience developing similar solutions,” said Hallin. “If you have a fully evolved idea, you can test it among your peers via the lab, or if you’re in the seminal stages and need to adapt an idea for your particular area of the country, you can take a model that’s been tested and tailor it to your needs.” 

As more and more colleges add ideas and explore the lab, Hallin and his team look forward to receiving feedback and suggestions about new features as this will assist with the direction of further development of this tool, built with and for NACCE.

Interactive Marketplace

The original mission of the Innovation Lab was to provide a database of best practices. Through design-phase conversations and numerous iterations, it has evolved into a space to share ideas for addressing current challenges focusing on six pillars of common challenges facing colleges: Entrepreneurship, Fundraising, Silo Busting, Student Enrollment, Student Success, and Workforce Development. Since its launch, several additional areas such as maker spaces and others have been identified as potential additions to the platform as it expands. “What started as a database has evolved. Instead of being a repository of practices, it has quite literally become an interactive marketplace,” Hallin observed. “People can share their prototypes, see what other colleges are doing, and next up is to make it so that everyone can engage and interact, obtain feedback, build on ideas, and explore collaboration opportunities.”

There is no limit to the number of colleges that can benefit. “We are so pleased that additional colleges, supported by the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund (EEVF), greatly increased the scale and scope of our efforts,” said Corbin. “Stuart and Chip Weismiller, co-founders of the EEVF, provided guidance and input on the creation of the prototype based on their combined experience as entrepreneurs and leaders of community college foundation work. Thanks to this new innovation lab, we can share resources and practices, which all community colleges across the country and beyond can replicate.” 

Access to the Innovation Lab will be available through the NACCE website shortly. In the meantime, you can visit it at

Please register and SIGN IN and use the GREEN COMMENT BUTTON in the lower right corner to provide feedback on the prototype or suggest new features.