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The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Awards $2 Million to Fund Entrepreneurship at UMBC

Initiative Seeks to Develop Entrepreneurs Outside of Business, Engineering Schools

UMBC has been awarded a $2 million grant to build entrepreneurship programs across the campus, joining a select group of colleges and universities receiving funding for entrepreneurship endeavors through the Kauffman Campuses Initiative.

The Kauffman Foundation initiated the three-year-old Kauffman Campuses Initiative to catalyze entrepreneurship programs outside of business and engineering schools. The Kauffman Foundation grant complements two substantial commitments already received by UMBC to support its Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. The first commitment is $1 million from Constellation Energy Group. The second is $1 million from the Herbert Bearman Foundation to establish The Bearman Family Chair in Entrepreneurship at UMBC.

The Kauffman Foundation grant acknowledges the success and potential of the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, created six years ago through a gift of $1 million from the Alex. Brown Foundation to develop a leading university entrepreneurship center for the Baltimore region.

UMBC has developed three broad strategies to make entrepreneurship education a common and accessible experience for students in all majors: exposure of students and faculty to entrepreneurs and their expertise, creation of formal education opportunities and development of programs to give students and faculty experience in entrepreneurial settings.

UMBC, recognized for its culture of entrepreneurship education despite the absence of a business school, joins a prestigious group of institutions selected by the Kauffman Foundation for funding. The others are Arizona State University, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, New York University, Purdue University, Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UMBC learned of its selection after a campus delegation, led by President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, presented its proposal before an independent panel of judges at Kauffman Foundation headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., on December 12.

“This partnership gives UMBC the opportunity to take entrepreneurship programming to the next level,” says Vivian Armor, director of the Alex. Brown Center. “It will allow UMBC to expand course offerings for current undergraduates, graduate students and working professionals. It will improve programming that exposes students and faculty to important entrepreneurial concepts. Finally, the partnership will help develop systems to support individuals as they work to launch successful business ventures or address urgent challenges facing our communities through social entrepreneurship.”

The Alex. Brown Center supports the kind of entrepreneurial creativity and action exemplified by the creation of OpenPosting.com, the first online classified community for college students. Students Wan Hsi Yuan and Jason Servary, members of the Center’s student-run CEO Club, created the site. It has 1,500 registered users and receives roughly 4,000 page views per day.

Entrepreneurship at UMBC also thrives via the Alex. Brown Center’s summer entrepreneurship institute. In summer, 2006, UMBC’s first Faculty Summer Institute was held for eight faculty members representing the departments of music, dance, theater and visual arts. The institute was created to broaden faculty exposure to concepts of entrepreneurship and integrate into their curricula career development skills, internships and mentoring relationships with established entrepreneurs.

Participation by faculty was determined based upon proposals that demonstrated interest in learning more about entrepreneurship. Winning proposals from faculty included the exploration of marketing and audience development initiatives, the development of courses to help students understand professional careers in the arts and arts and non-profit organization management.

The Center also serves as one of the University’s partners in the ACTiVATE program, funded by the National Science Foundation to address the unique needs of accomplished women interested in starting technology companies. Eight women in the ACTiVATE program, established two years ago, now lead their own tech companies.

The Alex. Brown Center’s activities are complemented by such other initiatives as techcenter@UMBC and bwtech@UMBC, which offer specialized support geared specifically toward research and technology businesses. Through UMBC’s Shriver Center, a national leader in promoting community-based service and internship programs, businesses are introduced to undergraduate and graduate students interested in internship experience in career-related fields.

“The Alex. Brown Center augments the excellent education UMBC offers by giving students the proper toolset to interface with business leaders in their field of choice,” said Greg Barnhill,” chair of the Alex. Brown Center Board of Visitors and partner and member of the board of Brown Advisory Securities. “We offer students guidance on how to deal with people on a daily basis, compose quality written communication and verbalize opinions effectively.”

The grant is awarded with the expectation that UMBC will raise an additional $8 million toward entrepreneurship programs during the next five years.

The Kauffman Campuses Initiative began in 2003 with $25 million in funding to eight schools that provided entrepreneurship education within liberal arts, engineering and other non-business programs.

Selection of this latest round of Kauffman Campuses schools was based on a series of criteria, including the ability to generate a partnership with other foundations and funders and the potential to create new representative models.

“Our initiative is creating a cultural change and making the entire university system more entrepreneurial,” said Kauffman CEO Carl Schramm. “We want all students, not just those in business schools, to see the value of thinking like entrepreneurs. We want them to be able to recognize and seize opportunity when it presents itself, no matter what field they find themselves in.”

About the Alex. Brown Center

Established in 2000 through a gift of $1 million from the Alex. Brown Foundation, the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship is the hub of entrepreneurial-based activity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). It provides an active link between the academic community and the corporate environment. Since its inception, the Center has worked closely with the Baltimore business community to create one of the leading university centers for entrepreneurship in the country housed at a mid-sized university. Information about the Alex. Brown Center is available at http://www.umbc.edu/entrepreneurship.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City is a private, nonpartisan foundation that works with partners to advance entrepreneurship in America and improve the education of children and youth. The Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. Information about the Kauffman Foundation is available at www.kauffman.org.

Posted: December 14, 2006, 12:00 PM