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Urban League to offer entrepreneurship training

The Urban League of Rochester has partnered with a New Jersey-based firm to offer entrepreneurship training.

Rising Tide Capital will begin offering its award-winning Community Business Academy (CBA) in Rochester this fall as part of a partnership with the Urban League, the firm said this week. The program is designed to equip under-resourced and nontraditional entrepreneurs with the training and resources to build sustainable businesses that directly benefit their neighborhoods.

“We are excited to begin this new chapter for Rising Tide as we bring our Community Business Academy to parts of the country teeming with entrepreneurial promise. Through partnerships with local, community-based organizations we can ensure our model meets the unique needs of these regions,” said Alfa Demmellash, co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital. “For over 15 years, Rising Tide Capital built and refined the CBA model in New Jersey and through our first pilot model in Chicago. Their success demonstrated that this local empowerment model is effective and popular. Entrepreneurship knows no boundaries, and this opportunity should be accessible to anyone who can benefit from it, regardless of identity, background or geography. Our goal is to build partnerships and collaborations in all 50 states that seek to transform communities and grow opportunities from within.”

The average Rising Tide Capital entrepreneur is a single mother of two earning at least $20,000 less than what is needed to achieve self-sufficiency. The cornerstone of Rising Tide Capital’s model is the CBA, an intensive 12-week training program for entrepreneurs on how to start, grow and sustain a business.

The program began in 2006 with 15 participants and since then, the Academy has produced more than 3,000 graduates in New Jersey and the surrounding regions. Officials noted that within two years of graduating, Rising Tide’s entrepreneurs achieve a 95 percent increase in their business sales, a 63 percent increase in household income and a 59 percent reduction in the use of public assistance.

In addition to Rochester, Rising Tide recently expanded to Willmar, Minn., Alexandria, La., and Palm Beach County, Fla. The latest cohort will train more than 100 entrepreneurs over the coming year, adding to the nearly 2000 expected to graduate from the Rising Tide Network in 2021.

The Urban League is currently accepting applications for its Fall 2021 CBA class.

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Allendale Columbia to offer two new diploma programs

Allendale Columbia School has launched two innovative new diploma programs.

The Entrepreneurship & Creative Engagement and STEM Engagement diplomas are the first of their kind offered in the Rochester region and are in addition to the traditional local diploma students receive. The programs will allow students to dive deeper into understanding and investigating their interests, and the pathways to the new engagement diplomas offer a personalized experience that is designed to provide students with choice, autonomy and purpose, officials said.

Both diplomas will be offered through AC’s Centers for Impact, which challenges students to think and work in new ways to better prepare them for the world they will inherit, shape and lead. Established in 2015, the AC Centers for Impact presents students with three unique programs: the AC Center of Global Engagement, the AC Center for Entrepreneurship & Creativity and the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, which teach students real-world opportunities to explore, learn, grow and make a positive impact.

Shannon Baudo
Shannon Baudo

“At Allendale Columbia, we are committed to providing authentic, relevant learning experiences that challenge our students while also ensuring they develop skills they will transfer and apply in the future,” said interim Head of School Shannon Baudo. “We are thrilled to be the first and only school to offer this innovative and personalized experience for our students.”

AC students are allowed to design, build and create their individualized diploma. The Entrepreneurship & Creative Engagement and STEM Engagement diplomas join AC’s third diploma offering, the Global Diploma, which provides students with individualized and meaningful experiences that allow them to foster global understanding and empathy. The Global Diploma launched three years ago and more than 10 students have graduated with the additional honor.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Global entrepreneurship organization to serve Rochester, Buffalo

A global nonprofit that supports and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs has launched an office in Western New York.

With grants from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, HSBC Bank USA, Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, Endeavor Global Inc. intends to help ensure that Western New York’s most promising entrepreneurs have the resources they need to scale their businesses.

“While we’ve been preparing to launch Endeavor in Western New York for more than a year, our arrival obviously comes at a very important time,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “When economies turn down, entrepreneurs turn up. We see enormous potential to help Buffalo and Rochester’s most innovative entrepreneurs scale up and multiply their impact on the region by investing in, mentoring and inspiring the next generation.”

Founded in 1997, Endeavor has helped 2,000 entrepreneurs build more than 1,200 companies in more than 35 markets around the world. The organization supports founders and companies that have passed through the initial startup phase and demonstrate the potential for rapid expansion and scale by providing access to “a global network of markets, industry leaders, investors and talent, helping to expand their ventures into enterprises that can propel the local economy and have a large impact in the community.”

The new office will be Endeavor’s eighth affiliate in the U.S., with offices previously launched in Atlanta, Detroit, Colorado, Louisville, Miami, Northwest Arkansas and Puerto Rico.

“With all of their unique assets, including their global funding network, Endeavor WNY will significantly increase overall capacity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of this region,” said Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. “By reaching both communities of Buffalo and Rochester, this will be an opportunity to foster entrepreneurship connectivity and cross-city collaboration, as well as encourage inclusive economic growth.”

The local office will be served by a board of area business leaders including:
• John Somers (Endeavor WNY board chairman) – CEO, Harmac Medical Products
• Greg Duval – regional executive and managing director, HSBC
• Gene Gramza – managing partner, Buffalo, Ernst & Young
• Scott Stenclik – CEO, Aleron
• Deborah Biedenkopf – CEO, MB2Group
• Christine Whitman – CEO, Complemar Partners

“By their nature, entrepreneurs embrace uncertainty, face adversity head-on and solve big problems. That’s why it’s such an important time to have Endeavor WNY help founders in Western New York receive the support, connections and resources they need to scale their businesses. Together, we will tackle the challenges ahead and create new opportunities for the local economy,” said Endeavor WNY board chairman John Somers.

The office will be led by John Gavigan, who will serve as the founding managing director. Gavigan is a Western New York native with more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, team builder and community leader in both Buffalo and Rochester. Most recently, Gavigan served as principal at Gamilax Services, chief operating officer at SomaDetect and executive director of 43North.

“We’re living through extraordinary times and entrepreneurs are likely to usher in a wave of innovation and creativity. New businesses account for nearly all net new job creation in our country, so it’s critical that we build on the recent growth of Western New York’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure the strength of our local economy for generations to come,” Gavigan said. “I’m greatly honored to have the opportunity to lead Endeavor WNY and help meet the needs of the growing pool of scale-up companies in our community.”

By focusing on scale-up companies that are generally Series A-stage and beyond, Endeavor WNY will have a unique, additive role in WNY’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, officials said. The office’s efforts will build on the work of other organizations that have helped drive early-stage startup creation and venture capital investment in WNY in recent years such as Luminate, Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc., NextCorps, Launch NY, Excell Technology Ventures, Rochester Angel Network and others.

“Supporting growth in our region is a priority for Wegmans,” said Wegmans president Colleen Wegman. “Endeavor WNY’s goal is to ensure these high potential entrepreneurs will have the support they need to grow and establish themselves in our community.”

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Jobs Accelerator program graduates first class

The Venture Jobs Foundation's pilot Jobs Kitchen Accelerator class with mentors and facilitators. (Photo provided)
The Venture Jobs Foundation’s pilot Jobs Kitchen Accelerator class with mentors and facilitators. (Photo provided)

Rochester’s Venture Jobs Foundation Inc. has graduated its first Jobs Kitchen Accelerator program class. The pilot program was made possible by a $100,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase and donations from two private regional foundations.

Nine entrepreneurs took part in the two-month program, meeting weekly to learn about marketing, finance, legal issues, business development and customer engagement, said VJF President and director Dennis DeLeo.

“A core focus of the program is getting the participants to go out and talk to potential customers. Because businesses start with customers, they don’t start with a dream,” DeLeo said, noting that for many individuals that’s not a natural task. “The whole purpose of this is to get them ready to approach others for capital.”

The program’s first cohort included a welder, a letterpress printer, a vacuum tube manufacturer, a consultant in inclusion and diversity and others.

“Some of these ideas are very interesting,” DeLeo said. “But these are all people who would probably not have any success going to the bank for a loan. And that’s the population we’re after: underserved populations that tend to be heavily women and minority.”

Nicole Hercules was a professional soccer player who also had worked in human services. She was trying to find a way to combine her love of soccer with her desire to help her community. As a result of the VJF Jobs Kitchen Accelerator, Hercules has applied for her 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and has spoken with investors to start an after-school program for kids aged six to 12 and an academy for those aged 12 to 19 that will allow kids to play soccer while also being tutored and have mentors.

Hercules is working with Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester to provide tutors and mentors. Eventually she’d like to add a science, technology, engineering and math component to the after-school program.

She also is working on a for-profit business, Rochester Soccer School, where she will work with elite soccer players.

“I’ve formed a curriculum that teaches technical skills so kids can be comfortable and confident and on the ball,” Hercules said. “And it’s somewhere they can train where I’m able to teach them everything they need to know as players outside of their team. So it’s kind of a stress-free environment where I can just help them become the best player they can be.”

Hercules said she didn’t know what to expect of the Jobs Kitchen program but jumped in with both feet.

“It’s the most amazing program,” she said. “I learned all of these things I needed to learn: how to form a brand; how to know what your client (wants); how to negotiate, how to create your business plan. There’s so much we covered in an eight-week span.”

DeLeo noted that each week of the program participants are expected to report back to others their highs and lows.

“And the opinions that come out of the other members, who are all small business people, are very important to the members of the cohort,” he said, which is why future cohorts will be kept to about a dozen individuals.

VJF expects to hold three cohorts per year, with the next round beginning the week of April 9. In its pilot, students did not pay for the training, but DeLeo said future classes will have a base tuition.

“Because we feel it’s important for people to have some skin in something that’s going to be of value,” DeLeo said. “But we’re going to build a scholarship fund so we don’t ever have to turn anybody away that we think is truly deserving of the program, will benefit from it, merely because they lack resources.”

Hercules said the program is for everyone.

“I really wasn’t good before this at negotiating my salary and charging the correct price, and it was something that they challenged me on,” she said. “And I’ll tell you what, I’m a beast right now because they pushed me.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Hobart grad gives $4 million for entrepreneurship, scholarship

A first-generation college student who became a successful real estate entrepreneur and the chairman of the board of trustees at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has, along with his family, given his alma mater a $4 million gift.

Three million dollars of the gift from Thomas S. and Barbara M. Bozzuto and their children will pay to endow the Bozzuto Center for Entrepreneurship at HWS. The other $1 million will create a scholarship for first-generation college students.

“Neither of my parents went to college, and when I got to Hobart, I was totally unprepared academically. It was only because of support from some of my classmates, the faculty and a couple members of the administration that I persisted,” said Thomas Bozzuto. “Young people from working class backgrounds deserve an opportunity in higher education and add to the community in a way that can’t be ignored and that benefits everybody. The scholarship is intended to ensure that financial stress will not compound the challenges first-generation students face.”

Bozzuto earned an English degree from Hobart in 1968 and went on to graduate school before his 45-year career in real estate, winning national and regional awards as a real estate developer in the Maryland and Virginia area. He is also a Vietnam Army veteran.

The newly named Bozzuto center is a 7,000-square-foot space on Castle Street in downtown Geneva that provides classrooms and spaces to work, hold discussions and meet over entrepreneurial studies, the popular minor concentration at HWS.

“Throughout his tenure on the Board of Trustees, and now as chair, Tom has been a leading supporter for the innovative and rigorous academics we offer at Hobart and William Smith,” said college President Gregory J. Vincent. “Likewise, Tom, Barbara and their family recognize the importance of making such an education accessible to talented students of all backgrounds, and with these gifts, they are cementing the colleges’ commitment to these critical areas in perpetuity. We are immensely grateful.”

Bozzuto has been a member of the board of trustees since 1999 and became chairman in 2016.

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275