CCBC Receives Grant to Support Youth Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program

Community College of Beaver County continues to grow its youth entrepreneurship initiatives and was recently awarded $9,000 to support a one-to-one mentoring program and a Venture Capital Fair for youth entrepreneurs.

      The Coleman Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit that supports educational institutions offering entrepreneurship education, awarded 11 total community colleges with elevator grants during the 9th annual NACCE (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship) Conference in October of 2011. Competing community colleges from across the United States submitted proposals for an Entrepreneurship Engagement Plan through which they will identify practicing entrepreneurs in their local community and engage them in education programs.

      “This year’s elevator grant program highlights activities that are part of NACCE’s newly launched Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum, an initiative outlining five actions community college presidents should take to advance self-employment and entrepreneurship education,” said NACEE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. “One of the commitments is to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges; that commitment aligns with one of the Coleman Foundation’s Bull’s-Eye Entrepreneurship Concepts – that successful practitioners, including local and alumni entrepreneurs, must be a part of a student’s learning experience.”

      Summer Biz Camp, sponsored by the College in a partnership with Entrepreneuring Youth (E Youth) and the Franklin Center of Beaver County, started in the summer of 2009 with the goals of introducing local youth to the thrill of entrepreneurship and providing them with the tools needed to create a business.  Serving as an expansion to the College’s Summer Biz Camp, the mentoring program and fair will allow students to be continually engaged year-round in entrepreneurship as well as network with local entrepreneurs. As part of CCBC’s Engagement Plan and in keeping with Coleman Foundation’s concept, each youth entrepreneur will be assigned a mentor who is a practicing entrepreneur. The mentor will provide guidance that is specific to each student’s proposed business.

       “In February, we will connect the students with mentors,” stated John Goberish, Manager/Continuing Education at CCBC and project director of the youth entrepreneurship initiative at CCBC. “Right now, we are identifying the right mentor for each student’s business.”

      In November and December of 2011, the students had a chance to sell their products at the Festival of Trees held at the Beaver Valley Mall.

      “Together, the students sold upwards of $800 worth of products at the festival,” stated Goberish. “This was a great opportunity for them to practice selling their products, make a profit, and increase awareness of the program and all of their businesses.”

      The Venture Capital Fair, which will take place on campus in April, will allow the 8 youth entrepreneurs to display and market their products and services to business/community members; compete for cash awards; and present their business plans to investors and practicing entrepreneurs with the hopes of securing investment capital.

       “As a result, practicing entrepreneurs, investors, parents, community organizations, and school districts are exposed to and witness the value and importance of entrepreneurship education and support systems for youth,” stated Goberish.

      In addition to the mentoring program and Venture Capital Fair, the grants funds will be used to create a year-round business incubator at the College. This will provide the students with an area to receive guidance and direction from mentors, College faculty, and students. Youth entrepreneurs can use the location and its resources as an office space to launch their business.

       In May, the students will sell and market their products at Nationality Days in Ambridge as well as attend the George W. Tippins’ Regional Business Plan Competition to compete with youth entrepreneurs from the Pittsburgh region.