**FILE** The campus at the University of the District of Columbia is seen here (Courtesy of UDC via Facebook)
**FILE** The campus at the University of the District of Columbia is seen here (Courtesy of UDC via Facebook)

Three D.C.-area historically Black universities — the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), Bowie State University and Morgan State University — have created a new entrepreneurship-based student scholarship program.

A three-year, $1 million grant award administered by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund has been bestowed upon the Capital Builders Center, which is open to D.C. residents enrolled at the three public institutions.

The center — created via a unique public-private partnership with the Clifton Foundation, UDC and the D.C. government — will include summer boot camps, second-summer apprenticeships, entrepreneurship coursework, life skills training, coaching, mentoring and other work in and out of the classroom that supports creating a successful business.

UDC’s School of Business and Public Administration will guide the curriculum development.

“The Clifton Foundation’s Strength Lab is component of the Capital Builders initiative,” said William Latham, chief of Student Development and Success Officer at UDC. “The Clifton Foundation also provides the introductory and the boot camp process for the Capital Builders program.”

Each participating university will administer the Gallup Entrepreneurial Profile EP10 Assessment to interested students. Those who rate high are interviewed and considered for the summer boot camp, the program’s starting point.

The goal is to enroll 20 students each year into the entrepreneurship program. To recruit students into the program, the three participating HBCUs have implemented a marketing effort with the D.C. Public Schools system.

The center will not limit the types of businesses or age range of a student that can receive business development guidance. Of course, technology and technology build-out services are being considered, but retail and service businesses also are of interest.

Since the student population at all three schools is age-diverse, there is an opportunity for those outside the traditional college age range to be assessed for enrollment in the center.

“We want to ensure that students understand the pipeline to build a billable, viable enterprise,” Latham said. “We will embrace all of the potential business concepts with students on the front end. Then we will refine that process as the program develops.”

Though it just launched, additional funding sources are already being pursued to expand the center. Latham said he is confident that the viability of the program, the uniqueness of the training, and the innovative curriculum will be attractive to potential funders.

“The program is geared towards students who traditionally have not been observed as particularly talented because of the general metrics of success for pre-college and college students,” he said. “We are excited to look at a new and dynamic way of assessing entrepreneurial talent that measures grit, enthusiasm, perseverance, and engagement for the work that creates a real strong venture process. We want to tap into that unique student.”
For more information, contact William Latham at William.Latham@udc.edu.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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