RIT’s Saunders College Launches Future Business Leaders’ Experience

Pilot program focuses on minority high school students helping minority-based businesses

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Rochester Institute of Technology marketing professor Delmonize Smith envisioned building a triage “pipeline” experience to help local youth develop their business, problem solving and leadership skills through real-world learning.

This isn’t summer school in the traditional sense, but a 12-week Saturday pilot program underway called “Future Business Leaders’ Experience,” where students and faculty from RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business meet with 16 minority junior and senior high school students from the Rochester City School District (Franklin and East High)—to help solve pressing business challenges of several Rochester based minority companies.

The program consists of a sequence of business workshops and face-to-face working sessions, and it culminates in a formal presentation to representatives of the company where students offer cost-effective, practical solutions the company can implement.

“The participating companies are Datrose, TruForm Manufacturing, Cannon Industries and DG&M Agency—all Rochester-based companies, as well as minority-based companies, from various industries who have agreed to have the students solve their most pressing business challenges,” says Smith, who is personally working with the students to make the program a win-win situation for everyone involved.

According to Smith, there are huge benefits to the future business leaders program. “Superior high school students will go on to pursue a college degree—perhaps here at RIT; participating businesses will have business-minded youth offer solutions to their most pressing organizational challenges, and they’ll also get a firsthand look at the potential labor supply,” he explains.

“And most importantly, the community benefits through the development of our next generation of business leaders who will be starting and running companies that drive our economy and create jobs.”

For more information about the Future Business Leaders’ Experience program or to interview students and companies involved, contact RIT Assistant Professor of Marketing Delmonize Smith at (585) 475-4749 or dsmith@saunders.rit.edu.

Note: One of eight colleges at RIT, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB International) and enrolls more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students. The Saunders College and its entrepreneurial Venture Creations Incubator works in partnership with RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world leading technical and creative programs. The business school is also launching an executive MBA online program this fall.

In six consecutive years since 2004, Saunders undergraduate programs have ranked in the top five percent of all U.S. business schools, according to U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges. In 2009, it was named one of the “Great Schools for Accounting Majors!” in The Princeton Review's “The Best 368 Colleges.”