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Entrepreneur Clubs Revitalized in Inland Empire Region

In a state filled with startups and entrepreneurs, it might be surprising to hear that entrepreneur clubs at some community colleges have fallen by the wayside over the years. Changing students and faculty make it tough for something to stick in a community college environment.

The Inland/Empire Desert Region hopes change that this fall by partnering with Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization (CEO)  to revive entrepreneur clubs at all 12 colleges in the region. CEO is a national organization that provides programming and resources for student entrepreneurs around the country.

Lisa Kiplinger-Kennedy, Deputy Sector Navigator for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the Inland Empire Region, organized the partnership with CEO and obtained funding to pay for each college’s first year of membership with the organization. Planning took place in the last academic year, and the clubs are kicking off this fall.

Planned activities include guest speakers, entrepreneur-themed movie nights, and trips to local business incubators and coworking spaces. CEO also holds regional and national conferences and provides other resources to its member schools.

“The clubs are a great way for students to learn soft skills. It gives them the responsibility to do the things they would need to do in the work world,” Kiplinger-Kennedy said. “Partnering with CEO gives us guidelines for how to structure the clubs and make them sustainable.”

The college entrepreneur clubs will also strengthen the small business pathway with high schools by allowing college students to serve as mentors to high school students.

“Seeing these partnerships that extend from faculty and business leaders to college and high school students makes all the legwork to revitalize the clubs worth it,” Kiplinger-Kennedy says.

“You can see all the pieces coming together and see this big picture how you’re helping the students and the opportunities we’re affording the students,” she says.

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