A two-year grant of $500,000 from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation will endow entrepreneurship programming at Oberlin College. The endowment will provide vital support for the college’s campus-wide entrepreneurship initiatives—Creativity & Leadership and LaunchU—and will play a critical role in advancing entrepreneurship as a defining and transformative component of an Oberlin education.
In 2007, Oberlin was one of five colleges awarded seed funding through the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program (NOCEP), conceived by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and co-funded with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Based in Hudson, Ohio, the Morgan Foundation works to strengthen the free enterprise system by investing in organizations and institutions that foster the entrepreneurial spirit.
Support from the Morgan Foundation has helped make entrepreneurship an overt and intentional part of an Oberlin education.
“The Foundation is excited to see entrepreneurship fully embedded on the Oberlin campus as a highly visible, multidisciplinary program accessible to students and alumni through curricular and co-curricular modes of learning,” says Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of the Morgan Foundation. “Oberlin has fully embraced the ambitious vision we shared for harnessing student energy and creativity through entrepreneurship, and we are pleased to help sustain the momentum of the program for the future.
Oberlin’s Creativity & Leadership (C&L) program is a multidisciplinary effort designed to encourage students to put their innovative ideas into practice. Competitive funding opportunities for students have included the Ignition Fund, Conservatory Initiative Grants, C&L Fellowships, and internship support.
The Ignition Fund allows students with early-stage ideas to test and refine their business models. Conservatory Initiative Grants enable students to spend winter (January) term implementing artistic projects that prepare them for entrepreneurial lives and larger ventures. C&L Fellowships have provided seed funding for Oberlin’s most promising entrepreneurs to move their ideas from concept to reality in the year after graduation. Students prepare for funding opportunities through C&L workshops, advising, mentoring, and courses. C&L also awards competitive, need-based funding for students to undertake unpaid summer entrepreneurship internships during which students work with a startup or other entrepreneurial enterprise, receive mentoring, and develop skills to further their own entrepreneurial aspirations.
Oberlin continues to respond to the changing needs of students and alumni and in 2013 introduced the LaunchU entrepreneurship accelerator. Culminating in a public pitch competition before a panel of investors, LaunchU helps students, alumni, and faculty refine their entrepreneurial ideas, develop skills and contacts, and compete for seed funding, coaching, and access to venture capital. By extending Oberlin’s entrepreneurship resources to alumni for the first time, LaunchU is establishing a vibrant network of Oberlin entrepreneurs in a range of sectors. It is also deepening ties with the rich entrepreneurship ecosystem of northeast Ohio.
“Support from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation was key to catalyzing entrepreneurship as a powerful educational tool at Oberlin,” says Andrea Kalyn, dean of the Conservatory. “We are very grateful to the Foundation for this campaign gift, which will ensure that generations of Oberlin students and alumni have ongoing access to the opportunities and support critical to developing their passions, skills, and entrepreneurial ideas to create change and value in the world.”
About The Burton D. Morgan Foundation
The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is a private foundation established in 1967, whose mission is to strengthen the free enterprise system by investing in organizations and institutions that foster the entrepreneurial spirit. To advance the mission, the Foundation supports entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education programs and initiatives at the youth, collegiate, and adult levels. A legacy of founder and entrepreneur Burton D. Morgan (1916-2003), the Foundation leverages its grant and staff resources to connect the people, ideas, organizations, and opportunities that comprise the vibrant and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northeast Ohio. Visit www.bdmorganfdn.org.
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