The Importance of Co-Curricular Learning

Are we in the knowledge business or the development business?

If we are in the development business, what is the connection between thriving in all areas of well-being and what happens at college? Co-curricular, experiential learning with mentoring.

  • 4.6 and 2.2
    • “The odds of thriving in all areas of well-being are 4.6x higher if [we are] engaged at work” (Gallup).
    • The odds of being engaged at work are…
      • 2.6x higher if college prepared students well for life outside of college
      • 2.2x higher if students had mentors who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
      • 2.0x higher if at least one professor made them excited about learning
      • 1.9x higher if professors cared about students as people
      • 1.8x higher if students worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete  (Gallup)
    • Inductive and Deductive and Effectual and Integrated Learning
      • Deductive learning begins with theories and progresses to the application of those theories
      • Inductive learning begins with the need to know; specific observations, case studies or problems, and theories are taught or the students are helped to discover them only after the need to know them has been established
      • Effectual learning begins with who and what you know and continually expanding the circle
      • Integrated learning begins with a liberal arts approach and ends with making connections across the curriculum
    • Co-curricular Learning
      • Complements but is not part of the regular curriculum
      • Provides opportunities for projects that take longer than a semester to complete, mentoring, inductive, and integrated learning
      • Can complement the liberal arts curriculum and help fulfill its promises to develop people
    • CFL (Center for Faithful Leadership)
      • Our WHY is to help students prepare for life after college by helping them discern, discover, and deploy their gifts and calling
      • Our HOW is experiential learning and mentoring
      • Our WHAT is that we just happen to operate consulting and incubator programs

Leadership As Intimacy

What is Intimacy in the context of Leadership?   See this analogy.

Four Pictures of Max De Pree




“Intimacy is at the heart of competence. It has to do with understanding, with believing, and with practice. It has to do with the relationship to one’s work.”

—Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art

Leadership As Integrity

“An acorn is a seed.  The acorn does not contain a small oak but contains the code for a process that may one day produce an oak.  Place an acorn in the soil, with the right nutrients and moisture, and it begins to transform into something greater than itself.  The external, protective coat splits and the internal contents mingle with the soil.  It is a process full of creative tension.  From the interactive process a new form may emerge.  In one sense, the outcome is determined.  If the tree comes into being it must be an oak, not a maple.  In another sense the process if free, emergent, or self-organizing.  The number and placement of branches and other characteristics of the adult tree will depend on a variety of interactions with the environment, many of which will be impossible to predict….

“[Cultures] resemble the shell of a seed.  If they crack we can begin to interact with our environment in new ways, and these interactions give rise to a new self or a new collective….”

“[A] small particle introduced into a human system at the right time may disrupt the system in a positive way.  It can reduce the stasis or entropy and increase the energy, literally breathing new life into it.  The seed or particle that is the catalyst for such changes usually comes in the form of some sort of behavior that itself emerged from a seed-like thought” (Robert Quinn, Change the World, pp. 1-2).

A person with integrity to her/his gifts and calling is a catalyst for human systems: we can bring positive change simply by living with more integrity to our gifts and highest moral values driven by our calling.  Such integrity will create a soil and environment of hope for others.  The right seed-like thoughts spoken in love will help others reach their tallest potential.

HEI Heroes

A hero has the courage to make a transition.  We must respect college students and alums who try to make the transition from student to entrepreneur, and for their parents and loved ones who let them.

Most college students want someone to offer them a job.  Not many students want to create their own job and jobs for others.  Even fewer can make it happen.  Even those who can have to go against the pressure of family and faculty who think they should work or continue to graduate school.

Heroes are purpose-centered and not comfort-centered.

The heroic journey is moving from your former status/identity to a new one, and surviving the process between.  In spiritual terms, it is discerning, developing, and deploying one’s gifts and calling.

Helping students discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling is CFL’s mission.

Here are the stories of those HEI* Heroes who are making the transition to greater integrity.


Drew Born and Adam Loveless of ReindeerCam

Drew Born

Adam Loveless

Matt Rutter and Team of Kingdom Paradigm

Matt Rutter

Kylen Blom and Team of Silkscreen Marketing

Grace Theisen and Team of Songs Against Slavery

grace theisen

Jared DeMeester and Team of Sweet Spot Wheels

Jared DeMeester

Scott Brandonisio, Russell Fyfe, and Sam Tzou and Team of Ring Cam

Scott Brandonisio

Russell Fyfe at StartGarden

Sam Tzou

Evelyn Ritter of UMP Analytical

Evelyn Ritter


John Boss and Matt Gira and Team of Fathom

John Boss

Matt Gira

Matt Gira and Team of Lio Jam Jars

Matt Gira

Jonathon Maat and Amanda Shepherd of Mission Goods

Jonathon Maat

Amanda Shepherd

Jonathon Maat and Team of a Medical Device Start-Up?

Jonathon Maat

Amanda Napier and Team of a Health Care Product Start-Up?

Amie (Amanda) Napier

Benjamin Schipper and Team of a Software Start-Up?

Benjamin Schipper

*HEI = Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative = a co-hort of HEI Awardees

To learn more about CFL, click here.

Board Report

CFL defines leadership as integrity with our gifts and calling.  Our core purpose is to help Hope students prepare for work by helping them discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.  We do that through the rare combination of experiential learning and mentoring.  Below is a list of what we do:

  • Our current students in LDRS courses are interacting with community leaders in their courses on inspirational leadership, influential leadership, being a trusted adviser, and innovation (leading the start-up process).
  • Our current students in CFL Consulting are working with for-profits and non-profits such as 70×7, Brownson Properties, Culture Works, Ditto, Herrick Public Library, Invest Credit (Moldova), Johnson Portables, and Spectrum Health Innovations (x3).  Our staff includes 30 part-time student employees and 15 part-time project leaders, including alums, including those who were founders and top-level executives.  Our alums are making a difference in corporations such as Amway, Dow, Gordon Food Service, Haworth, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Stryker, etc.
  • Our current students in the CFL Incubator engaged many members of the community via an open house on September 22 in the Martha Miller Center 1st Floor rotunda.  Our staff includes 12 part-time student-entrepreneurs and a part-time entrepreneur-in-residence, and alumni team-in-residence (Ring Cam), and a student team-in-residence (Fathom).  We are proud some of our alums are still going strong as job-creators and talent-retainers who are helping others discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.  These include Matt Rutter of the Kingdom Paradigm (Moldova) team, Scott Brandonisio, Russell Fyfe, and Sam Tzou of the Ring Cam team, and Grace Theisen of the Songs Against Slavery (Nashville) team.
  • We are currently re-developing our mentoring program.

Faith and Work Integration

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Some colleges have student-run consulting clubs.  Some have incubators.

Few have programs that engage practitioners on project teams and cohorts to help student solve problems for others and for their own start-ups.

None, except Hope, hire students to do problem-solving for others (CFL Consulting) and for their own start-ups (CFL Incubator) with practitioners within a faithful leadership center.  Only CFL provides and combines these high level experiential learning opportunities with mentoring.

Hope College CFL logo

CFL Consulting 2000x2000

CFL Incubator 2000x2000

No Longer A Start-up

We were a Start-Up.  Here’s our pitch:

CFL Start-up 1

Our mantra.

CFL Start-up 2

A Gallup/Purdue study wanted to determine the connection between a fulfilling life and what happens in college.  What did they find?

  • “The odds of thriving in all areas of well-being are 4.6x higher if [we are] engaged at work” (Gallup).

The odds of being engaged at work are…

  • 2.6x higher if college prepared students well for life outside of college
  • 2.2x higher if students had mentors who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
  • 2.0x higher if at least one professor made them excited about learning
  • 1.9x higher if professors cared about students as people
  • 1.8x higher if students worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete  (Gallup)

Why is that?  Experiential Learning + Mentoring lead to a higher understanding of one’s gifts and calling.

Robert Quinn and other leadership gurus tell us that we will be leaders if what they do is aligned with the gifts and calling (i.e., if we have integrity).

CFL Start-up 3

The problem, as articulated in the Purdue/Gallup study, is that very few college students have Experiential Learning + Mentoring.

CFL Start-up 5


CFL is students and practitioners.  We believe leadership is integrity with our values and gifts.  Therefore…

Our WHY is to help students discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling, and transition from college to a life of leadership and service.

CFL Start-up 6

Our HOW is integrating Experience Learning and Mentoring.

CFL start-up 7a

Our WHAT, then, is CFL Consulting,  CFL Incubator, CFL Integrated Learning, and CFL Mentoring.   In the former two, we hire students and put them on interdisciplinary teams to develop and validate ideas.  We also hire experienced practitioners with proven track records to coach and mentor our students while they work on those teams solving problems for themselves and others.

CFL Start-up 8

Our practitioner coaches-mentors is our secret sauce!

CFL Start-up 9

As well as our clients!

CFL start-up 10

Our clients expose our students to the real world and to real-world challenges.

Some of our clients are helping us create student entrepreneurs!  See:

And some of our clients are our student entrepreneurs!  See:

CFL start-up 11

Our unique value is that we complement the official Hope College curriculum by providing students with Inductive, Integrated (vs. Deductive, Discipline Specific) Learning experiences because we recruit and train and hire students to work part-time (5-10 hours/week) on Interdisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems.  Students lead and are practitioner-coached.  They learn about themselves and the options that await them after graduation.  They develop a greater understanding of who they are and how God made them.

CFL start-up 12

Because our Experiential Learning + Mentoring experiences are transforming, we attract both students and practitioners who wish to join the movement!  In CFL Consulting and CFL Incubator alone, we now have 50 part-time student employees and 15 project leaders!

CFL start-up 13

We inboard, develop, and transform, and transition students through experiential boot camps and coursework, and outboard them through reflection and mentoring experiences.

CFL start-up 14

And it works!

Because we transform lives, we have grown. See:

CFL start-up 15

We are no longer a Start-Up.  This is why:

According to the “four steps to the epiphany,” a start-up is no longer a start-up when it reaches the Customer Creation stage and begins to scale to meet customer demand. (See:

Our customers are clients, project leaders, subject matter experts, and students.  They are seeking transforming experiences as they transition to new opportunities.  Students in particular are preparing for work.  They seek to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling, and transition out of college.  The harvest is ready!

By that definition we are no longer a start-up.

A second way to answer that question is to think about the founder of the organization.  From the founder’s perspective, a start-up is no longer a start-up when the organization needs someone to manage the business as much as it needs someone to keep growing the business.

We are there: the current director has passion and skills for initiating, recruiting and building, not managing.  We now need a chief operating officer to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

By that definition we are no longer a start-up.

A third way to answer that question is to think about the planning needs of the organization.  Start-ups seek to find a business model that works before they run out resources.  But eventually they get to a size and success level that requires strategic plans and sustainability plans.  We need a strategic and sustainability plans.

By that definition we are no longer a startup.

Finally, a fourth way to answer that question is to think about the financing needs of the organization.  No longer does the organization need “seed money” for Customer Discovery and Product Development, it now needs investment for Customer Creation and Company Creation — in infrastructure to support its growth and management overhead.

Clearly, we are no longer a startup.  We too are transitioning.

We need a Business Plan.

Because we are in a transition phase, we are creating a strategic and sustainability planning team made up of a subset of our very talented pool of CFL Consulting project leaders. (See:  To ensure objectivity and buy-in, the director is not and will not be directly involved in the process or in determining the recommendations.

These are exciting times!

We covet your thoughts and prayers for wisdom.

For more on our history, click here.

To God be the glory!

To learn more about CFL, click here.