By Nic Custer

5 Steps to Start Up Kickoff Event

As part of efforts to expand the reach of the Innovation Incubator, staff has taken the business training out into the community. Two business bootcamps have been recently offered to community members and students. 5 Steps to Start Up, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center-funded series, was held on UM-Flint’s campus and helped more than sixty business owners better understand customer acquisition, marketing, business finances and government contracting.

[IN] on the Road Teen Session at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint

[IN] on the Road, another workshop series, offers multiple free business bootcamps on the north and east sides of Flint. This program’s goal is to build up entrepreneurship knowledge in neighborhood residents. The Innovation Incubator-led project is funded by Ruth Mott Foundation. Each 5-session bootcamp is geared towards both teens and adults.

The curriculum brings financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills to the general community, which may have barriers to access traditional business planning services downtown. The program was held at Joy Tabernacle in Civic Park, Holmes STEM Academy and will be at Asbury United Methodist Church this June. An additional bootcamp exclusively for teens was held at Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint during spring break, funded by Michigan Small Business Development Center. Business counselors make themselves available to community members an hour before and after each session for 1-on-1 counseling. The program will culminate June 24 with a graduation celebration at Berston Field House. Participants will receive certificates of completion and young people will compete in an elevator pitch competition with up to 10 of them winning $500 towards starting the business. The Innovation Incubator hopes to work with clients beyond the life of the camp and is offering bus passes to clients without access to reliable transportation to help them attain services downtown after June.

Larry Nichols of the School of Management and Sara McDonnell of the Innovation Incubator present “Grants, Crowdfunding, and Financing: How to Fund your work and business”

Additionally, Outreach held an Arts and Social Entrepreneurship Symposium at the Flint Institute of Music and Flint Institute of Arts in March. This event brought together local arts entrepreneurs for a day of workshops and panel discussions. Keynote speakers included local printmaker Bill Stolpin and Aaron Dworkin, Sphinx Organization founder and dean of the U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Matt Kelterborn of the U-M Center for Social Impact and University Outreach Director Paula Nas with Martha Fedorowitz, Emily Futcher, Dean-Mark Clemente, the 2017 Social Impact Challenge grand prize winners.

The Social Impact Challenge finals were held at the symposium and mixed teams from Flint and Ann Arbor presented their ideas of how to better connect IN on the Road’s neighborhood entrepreneurs with a new Ferris Wheel innovation hub downtown. The $2,500 grand prize was awarded to student team, Innovation to Impact.

 

 

 

 

 

immigrant u

Photo courtesy of Brandon Malevich

By Sherry Hayden

Did you know international students comprise about one-eighth of the student body at UM-Flint? It turns out you can have a truly international experience right here in Flint, Michigan. It’s exciting to travel to other countries and cities to learn about our differences and our similarities. That’s what is happening right here, right now.

Some of these international students have been working for a couple years on a documentary about their experiences coming to the UM-Flint from their native countries. The new documentary, Immigrant U: Our Story, Our Way, was conceived by students of Kendrick Jones, who lectures in the Theatre Department. Kendrick also is the director and founder of Shop Floor Theatre Company (SFTC), a non-profit housed in the UM-Flint University Outreach Innovation Incubator. SFTC is funded by a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation, which funded the documentary and all the work leading up to it.

The students premiered the documentary at UM-Flint November 18, 2015 to a full house in the KIVA. It was followed by live, theatrical performances from some of the students.

I sat with my new friend Abeer, who immigrated from Sudan. She works across the hall from the Incubator at the Northbank Center. It is interesting to hear her perspectives; I am always impressed with how brave it is for anyone to move to a new country and start over. I’ve only visited other countries for a few months, and can only imagine being apart from my family and friends, and the land that I love so much, for an extended period of time.

We listened to the students talk about the difficulties of coming to a new country, being accepted by others, and even dealing with Michigan’s climate.  When one of the performers pleaded with the audience, “I don’t know anything about American football – will you still love me?” Abeer spontaneously cried out, “I will!”  The whole audience laughed. I was delighted – gentle humor is the common language here. Love and friendship are our common languages as well.

What this production revealed is that we are much more alike than we are different. Most of the problems presented by the students from India, Saudi Arabia, France, Nigeria and Jamaica really are no different from new students who grew up locally. Everyone has difficulty, especially the first semester of college. It’s new, different, and that requires adjustment. Every student wonders if she will make friends, fit in, and find her way around in the world.

A key message of the international students is that they want to be your friends and they want to learn and grow with you. That’s really what most people want, regardless of where they were born. UM-Flint is a great place to do that.