M&T donates $50,000 to entrepreneurship center

RIT’s Saunders College creates pipeline for RCSD students to help minority-based businesses

Delmonize Smith, director of RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

FBLE benefits the community through the development of our next generation of business leaders who will be starting and running companies that drive our economy and create jobs.

—Delmonize Smith, director of RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

M&T Bank is making a two-year commitment and donating $50,000 to the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship’s (CUE) Future Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (FBLE) program—under the helm of Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology.

FBLE is a 12-week unconventional summer school program where students from the Rochester City School District help solve pressing business challenges of local minority-based businesses. Since 2009, FBLE has been managed collaboratively by Saunders College, RCSD and business partners who choose to sponsor the program.

“The Future Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs program allows students from the Rochester City Schools to apply their learning by working on real-world business cases,” says Dan Burns, Rochester Region president, M&T Bank. “Small business development and entrepreneurship are essential to the future of our local economy, which is why we think corporate support of this RIT program is an investment in our community’s future.”

Saunders College Dean dt ogilvie says the program and the partnership with M&T Bank is making a difference to Rochester youth.

“Both M&T and Saunders share the value of helping Rochester youth to grow and develop their leadership and foster their entrepreneurial skill. These attributes will enable the youth who go through this program to have a successful future.”

According to Delmonize Smith, RIT professor in management at Saunders College and director of CUE, the goal of the program he founded is to encourage more students from the city of Rochester into college business studies—especially underrepresented minority students who often lack role models in business fields. Business partners from the community provide the case studies for the project work and interact with the student teams (coached by Saunders College faculty and staff) as they develop their solutions.

“An important goal of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship is to promote the curiosity and knowledge of our next generation of entrepreneurs,” says Smith. “We strongly believe the FBLE program is most effective in accomplishing that goal, particularly for students within the Rochester City School District.”

“We are extremely excited about receiving this two-year grant from M&T which will allow CUE to continue producing the exceptional results delivered by our FBLE program.”

Since its inception, more than 140 RCSD students have completed the program, and more than 90 percent of participants said the program increased their abilities to speak and present in front of a group, take on difficult challenges, problem solve, and work as a team.

“Ongoing assessments are being conducted to evaluate change in college readiness and track actual college attendance of program participants,” says Smith. “We are hoping to make FBLE a year round program.”

About the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE) at Rochester Institute of Technology is under the direction of Saunders College of Business. Located in downtown Rochester, N.Y., one of the top two urban entrepreneurship centers in the U.S., CUE is dedicated to reshaping the regional economy and building wealth within the urban community by implementing a proven model that is unique in integrating entrepreneurs with university resources, professors, students, government and financial capital. CUE provides general educational programming, customized training, mentoring and consulting between entrepreneurs and industry experts, and deal flow strategies that result in funding and revenue-generating opportunities.

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