Small business and entrepreneurship is a key driver of the economy with the vast majority of new private-sector jobs being created by small firms and entrepreneurially minded people. Additionally, employers highly value employees who are self-starters and possess entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. This makes it imperative for educational institutions to develop programs that will prepare students to succeed in an entrepreneurial economy.

The California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) Program’s Small Business Sector Navigator initiative recognized this need and put out an RFA for a total of ten Faculty Entrepreneurship Champion (FEC) mini-grants, one for each community college region in the state, of up to $7,500 each. The purpose of the grants is to help business faculty at community colleges infuse entrepreneurship curriculum into existing classes and programs or develop experiential entrepreneurial learning opportunities for students. Working in conjunction with San Diego CITD Business Advisor and Youth Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, Gabriel Reyes, Southwestern College Business Professor Yvonne Lucas was awarded an FEC grant for the San Diego region.

As part of the FEC grant activities, Professor Lucas and CITD Business Advisors Gabriel Reyes and Monica Rosas worked with Southwestern College students to prepare them for a regional business pitch competition by providing assistance with developing a brief business plan and video pitch for their business ideas through two group lab sessions and one-on-one counseling. The regional competition, called Idea2Innovate, was organized by the Small Business Deputy Sector Navigator for the San Diego & Imperial Region and is one of 10 regional competitions throughout the state—the winners of which will compete in a statewide competition in May. Students who participate in the regional competition will have a chance to win up to $2,500, with an opportunity to win additional cash and other prizes at the state level.