RIT’s Saunders College Hosts ‘Future Business Leaders’ Experience’

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

Delmonize Smith

Forty-two students from the Rochester City School District will start an unconventional summer school program June 11 at Rochester Institute of Technology.

It’s all due to Delmonize Smith, professor in management at RIT, who envisioned building a triage “pipeline” experience to help local youth develop their business, problem-solving and leadership skills through real-world learning.

Now two years since its inception, Future Business Leaders’ Experience is a 10-week Saturday session program where students and faculty from RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business meet with minority junior and senior high school students from East High, Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Wilson Commencement and others to help solve pressing business challenges of several Rochester-based minority companies.

The program is co-sponsored by Bank of America and consists of a sequence of business workshops and face-to-face working sessions, culminating in a formal presentation to representatives of the company where students offer cost-effective, practical solutions the company can implement.

“The participating companies include ITT Geospatial 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 working with the students to make the program a win-win situation for everyone involved.

According to Smith, there are huge benefits to the 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.”

Note: One of nine 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 work 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 also launched an online executive MBA program in 2009.

In six consecutive years since 2004, Saunders undergraduate programs have ranked in the top five percent of all U.S. business schools. The 2011 U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges ranked the graduate program as 63rd in the nation. In 2009, The Princeton Review named the Saunders College as one of the “Great Schools for Accounting Majors!” and the graduate program was cited among “The Best 301 Business Schools.”

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