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Cayuga CC receives $5000 grant from Coleman Foundation to host SUNY business idea competition

DATE: 10-22-2012

Cayuga Community College will host a Business Idea Competition and an entrepreneurship mentoring program for all students at any of the 30 State University of New York (SUNY) community colleges this year, thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation.

The grant was one of six others awarded by the Coleman Foundation at the 10th Annual Conference of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), held earlier this month in Chicago. A Cayuga team, led by President Dr. Daniel P. Larson, presented at this conference, and Dr. Larson was elected board chair of NACCE. At the conference, Fred L. Emerson Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Innovation Tom Paczkowski was invited to present Cayuga’s proposal to host the Business Idea Competition before representatives of the Coleman Foundation’s board.

Cayuga and the other community colleges who received the Coleman grants will use the funding to develop successful practices for creatively involving entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship and self-employment education.

“We view the elevator grant program as an important way to both add excitement to NACCE’s annual conference event as well as to reinforce the elements of NACCE’s agenda which align with Coleman Foundation interests,” said Michael Hennessy, president of the Coleman Foundation. “The foundation believes that practitioners such as alumni and local entrepreneurs must be part of a student’s learning experience. These elevator winners are exploring ways to do this and our competition at the conference allows these solutions to be shared across NACCE member colleges.”

“The monies awarded this year by the Coleman Foundation bring their total grants to NACCE members to over $500,000,” said NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. “I cannot stress how important this support has been to helping NACCE members develop best practices in entrepreneurship education and support services. The impact of this money has been felt in dozens of communities all across the country where our members are working hard to help entrepreneurs make their dreams a reality.”

The Cayuga competition is open to any SUNY community college student enrolled in a credit or credit-free (community education) course. The College will award $2,750 in prizes to the winning ideas.

“This project builds on Cayuga’s national reputation in supporting entrepreneurship on campus and in the community,” Paczkowski said. “The competition will encourage budding entrepreneurs to more formally think through and present their business idea. The winners will benefit from expert advice and an opportunity for access to seed money as well.”

Mentoring opportunities will be available to students both before and after the competition. This competition will allow the most promising prospects to gain seed money while also benefitting from the expertise of seasoned entrepreneurs.

The winners would have access to a team of mentors who would provide information and support to move the project forward.  The winning teams would about be encouraged to prepare a formal presentation and submit their winning concept for entry to other competitions. 

Cayuga will run the competition through its SUNY Entrepreneurial Network to Grow Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ENGINE), a collaborative group of educators, non-profit agencies, and business people that support economic growth across the state. The College’s Phi Beta Lambda business club will coordinate the competition, with assistance from Professor and Faculty Advisor Amy Valente and Professor Paczkowski.

The College will host three workshops this fall for anyone interested in learning more about the competition, the necessary preparation to start a business, and what the two-page application form will entail. More details will be shared about the dates and times of these workshops in the coming weeks.

The event builds on two years of experience in holding business idea competitions at the College. Last year, the College received approximately 30 entries from four SUNY colleges, and awarded $1,750 in cash prizes to three winning ideas: MySleeves, changeable sleeves for a functionally fashionable shirt; Keeping it Sunny Foods, a mobile concession stand; and Hockey Jocks Ice Cream, hockey-themed ice cream franchise.

For more information, contact Amy Valente at or 315-255-1792, ext. 2419.