A traditional liberal arts education has much to offer in terms of developing students’ entrepreneurial leadership skills. But does it go far enough in transitioning students out of college?
That is where Hope College, the Center for Faithful Leadership, and community partners provide a distinct advantage.
Hope’s mission is to educate students for lives of leadership and service. The Center’s mission is to enable students to experience their faithful leadership potential by engaging them in projects that help them apply in the real world what they learn in the classroom. Community leaders, as mentors and advisers and clients have much to offer.
To help students test whether entrepreneurship is their calling, and to help them discover and polish and reflect on their strengths, the Center co-creates work experiences that matter — that help them discover and develop their gifts by using them, that prepare them for their next internship or job, and that transition them out of college. Think of the program as a funnel.
At the top of the funnel are students with an appetite in innovation.
Once at Hope, they can feed their hunber with particular courses in art, the digital humanities (Mellon Scholars), engineering, management, music, etc.. In addition, CFL offers students particular experiences.
- LDRS 231 (“Entrepreneurial Leadership”), a course that engages students in the lean start-up, boot-strapping process; encourages them to “get out of the building” to lead problem, solution, and MVP interviews; and challenges them through idea and investor pitch and learn competitions, which are open to all students. LDRS 231 is also the gateway course for CFL’s (co-curricular) Incubator.
- Based on their performance in LDRS 231 — a very experiential learning-oriented course — and involvement in other entrepreneurial activities, students apply to be in CFL’s Incubator. The Incubator provides students the time and space and resources to work on their ideas. In the Incubator, students work with CFL’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence and alumae/i Mentors-in-Residence to create actual businesses and non-profit organizations.
- Because Hope College is a sponsor, student have free access to StartGarden’s (downtown Grand Rapids) classes and events.
- Because Hope is a member, Hope students have free access to the Warehaus and coaching through Start-up AcademE.
- Hope College, CFL, StartGarden, Warehaus, and Start-up Academe offer community-focused start-up support, helping to connect Hope students to a vast network of resources.
But the mentoring and coaching don’t end with the CFL Incubator. At the bottom of the funnel are Hope alums who frequently return to campus to serve as advisers, lecturers, pitch judges, project leaders, and Mentors-in-Residence for the next cohort of student entrepreneurs!