UConn's Entrepreneurial Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) has received a $50,000 grant from NBC Connecticut.
The grant will be used to expand the program, which equips veterans with the knowledge, skills, and support to start and grow their own businesses and attain economic independence.
EBV includes an on-line course to bring veterans up-to-speed on business ideas; a week-long immersion workshop on campus for veterans to learn from business faculty and successful local entrepreneurs, and an on-going mentoring program to support the veterans as they implement their business concepts. There is no cost to participants for the program, which is supported by private donations. UConn's School of Business became part of the national consortium of business schools offering the program in 2010.
"Because we are privately funded and receive no taxpayer money, the support of corporation foundations is crucial," says Michael Zacchea, a Brookfield resident and disabled vet who is director of the EBV program. "We believe helping disabled veterans start businesses in the long run realizes a return on investment that ultimately bends down the cost of long-term care."
The program also demonstrates the power of entrepreneurship in our communities, according to John Elliott, dean of the business school. "It is an essential route for job creation and economic vitality."
The UConn program currently serves 24 people, and the goal is to expand it over time to serve 50. "There is a real need for programs that give disabled veterans the tools they need to successfully transition into civilian life," says Zacchea.
Since UConn joined the initiative, it has provided training to 37 veterans. Of those, 24 have launched businesses, one has taken a full-time job related to his entrepreneurial interest, four have returned to school, and eight are preparing to launch their businesses. Nationally, the program has had more than 500 participants and 300 have successfully launched their own business.
The entrepreneurial boot camp for veteran is one of three non-profit programs in Connecticut to received funding from NBCUniversal Foundation through the 21st Century Solutions Grant challenge to support high-impact, progressive programs. Charter Oak Cultural Center's vegetable gardening and newspaper initiative to provide employment and opportunity for the homeless and the Connecticut Pre-engineering Program's cyber-gaming math challenge to close the achievement gap among urban students received grants of $25,000 each.
"The winning programs showcase innovative and creative ways to impact our state. NBC Connecticut is proud to recognize the organizations and provide resources to move their projects forward to benefit our community," says David Doebler, NBC Connecticut president and general manager.
NBC Connecticut featured profiles of each of the winning programs during newscasts on-air and on NBCConnecticut.com
By: Kristina Goodnough, UConn Foundation
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