New Mexico State University guides students toward career success, and more and more careers are being built by the entrepreneurial spirit. NMSU’s entrepreneurship hub and business incubator, Arrowhead Center, has a mission to help nurture that career path as well. Now, thanks to an additional $300,000 Cradle-to-Career Pipeline grant from the Colorado-based Daniels Fund, even more students can explore entrepreneurial thinking throughout their educational career and beyond through Innoventure, Arrowhead’s entrepreneurship education program for K-12 students, and Studio G, its business incubator for college students and recent alums.
“With this continued support from the Daniels Fund, our outreach is going to focus on more in-person presentations and hands-on activities with more students,” said Amanda Bradford, director of Innoventure, an educational outreach program introducing students throughout New Mexico to entrepreneurship.
Bradford said Innoventure aims to strengthen the skills and attitudes that make up an entrepreneurial mindset, such as a willingness to take creative risks, an ability to see challenges as opportunities to try something new, and the resilience to try again when something doesn’t go right. All of these attitudes have been identified by employers and leaders as key to success in the workforce – regardless of discipline.
“We’ve discovered as we’ve grown the program that the best way to capture the youngest students’ attention is meeting them where they are, listening to their ideas and helping them think through the whole process using those entrepreneurial skills like problem-solving and opportunity recognition,” said Bradford.
Through previous support from the Daniels Fund, Innoventure has greatly expanded the reach of two key programs designed to introduce children to entrepreneurship through hands-on learning: Innoventure Jr. and Camp Innoventure.
Through Innoventure Jr., more than 18,000 New Mexico elementary school children learned about entrepreneurship and practiced their problem-solving and teamwork skills. Camp Innoventure students brainstorm creative business ideas, put together a business model and develop their product to sell at a farmers or artisan markets in their community.
“With these funds,” Bradford said, “we’ll be able to reach even more students in the rural areas, while continuing to build on entrepreneurial learning in schools where we’ve already sparked their interest.”
The latest Daniels Fund support will similarly help drive the growth of the Innoventure Challenge programs for middle- and high school students. Guided by learning modules, videos and worksheets, the teams create a business plan and a simple prototype based on a new theme each preliminary round, and finalists get the chance to participate in a final competition day at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus in the spring.
For college and university students, Arrowhead’s Studio G provides a network of business mentors and accelerator programs set up to support their entrepreneurial ideas and give more heft to their career goals.
Studio G leveraged previous support from the Daniels Fund to create partnerships and open incubator sites at 13 colleges and universities all over New Mexico, including New Mexico Tech, San Juan Community College and University of New Mexico. The additional funding will help continue that expansion.
“The Daniels Fund has been an incredible partner and instrumental in the development and expansion of Studio G in allowing us to help significantly more student entrepreneurs than we would have been able to otherwise,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G. “Through this new grant, we plan to open several new Studio G sites in the state, as well as growing our existing sites while continuing to improve the resources, services and support that the entrepreneurs in Studio G receive.”
Arrowhead Center Director Kathy Hansen said the continued support from the Daniels Fund is a testament to how important these programs are to the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“The Daniels Fund has made a substantial commitment to hands-on entrepreneurship education and training in the state of New Mexico,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have their ongoing support to allow our programs to continue to grow and reach more students.”
For more about all of Arrowhead Center’s programs that support entrepreneurs of all ages in the region, visit http://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu.