Hillman Gift Supports New Entrepreneurship Education Program

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Hillman Entrepreneurs student Chae Clark and David Hillman.

The University of Maryland and Prince George's Community College have launched a joint program to give creative county students the entrepreneurial education and experience they need to turn great ideas into successful ventures. The new program is made possible through a $1.7 million gift from the David H. and Suzanne D. Hillman Family Foundation.

The gift from the Hillman Family Foundation establishes a pilot program through which entrepreneurially minded students will begin their education at Prince George's Community College and complete their bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland. The four-year Hillman Entrepreneurs Program will provide financial support and an education in entrepreneurship to students who want to start a business, but might not be able to pursue a college career without assistance.

"David and Suzanne Hillman are making it possible for deserving Prince George's County students to get a great college education at the University of Maryland and Prince George's Community College, while learning what it takes to be successful entrepreneurs," said C. D. Mote, Jr., President of the University of Maryland. "The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program is a model for partnership between a university and community colleges, offering transfer students enriched educational programs that are usually available only to freshmen entering a four-year college."

"We are looking to support people who can change our world, that have roots in this area and who, after getting this great education, will go back to Prince George's County and shake things up," said David Hillman, Chief Executive Officer of Southern Management Corp.

"Entrepreneurial thinking doesn't just mean starting businesses; it means taking inventive thinking into existing settings," explained Hillman, who was named an "Innovator of the Year" in 2002 by the Daily Record.

Ronald A. Williams, president of Prince George's Community College, said "David and Suzanne Hillman's $1.7 million gift supporting the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program demonstrates their extraordinary investment in the future of Prince George's Community College students. Moreover, this is an investment in the future of Prince George's County as well as recognition of the college's critical role in preparing and educating students to contribute to the region's future economy."

Twenty-second-year Prince George's Community College students have been selected for the program, with new first year students to be selected in the spring of 2007 for the next cohort. The first class will transfer to Maryland as early as fall 2007. During the subsequent three years of the pilot program, up to 30 students will enter the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program each fall as first year PGCC students. These students will be selected from a pool of highly qualified students accepted for enrollment at Prince George's Community College.

"We are looking to support people who can change our world, that have roots in this area and who, after getting this great education, will go back to Prince George's County and shake things up."

David Hillman, Chief Executive Officer of Southern Management Corp.

"This new program means a lot to me," said Hillman Entrepreneurs student Chae Clark, who is a member of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Collegian Center at Prince George's Community College and director of finance and budget for the school's Student Program Board.

"I love business and always have ideas for new businesses. However, people don't always have an opportunity to carry out their ideas. Before I got into the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, I wasn't sure if I would be able to realize my goals and transfer to a four year school. The Hillmans are the reason I'm getting into Maryland," said Clark, who sent David Hillman a note thanking him for his "generosity" and "for creating such a worthwhile program."

Hillman Entrepreneurs, who may pursue any course of study except pre-law, will receive special coursework and programs to nurture their entrepreneurial skills and spirit; intensive mentoring; business internship opportunities; merit scholarships of $500 at PGCC and $1000 at Maryland; and need-based scholarships to cover up to 100 percent of the annual cost for tuition and books.

The program will be administered by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute's MTECH Ventures initiative at the University of Maryland. MTECH Ventures, part of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, provides cutting-edge entrepreneurship education to technology creators and stimulates venture creation by delivering a complete portfolio of services and resources to entrepreneurs. MTECH Ventures also administers the university's Hinman CEOs (Campus Entrepreneurs Opportunities) Program, an award-winning program that is the first undergraduate living-learning entrepreneurship program in the country.

Hillman Entrepreneurs can take advantage of MTECH Ventures' four entrepreneurship courses, weekly seminars, $50K Business Plan Competition, and intense mentoring offered through the VentureAccelerator Program.

The University of Maryland is one of the nation's leading universities with 31 top-10 programs in U.S. News & World Report rankings and 61 in the top-15. The Shanghai Jiao Tong Top-500, the worldwide analogue of U.S. News & World Report, ranks the university 37th in the world and 28th in the U.S. among all public and private universities.

Prince George's Community College is a comprehensive, public, post-secondary institution that provides high-quality academic and continuing education to more than 37,000 students each year. The college awards associate's degrees in credit programs and letters of recognition and certificates in both credit and noncredit programs.

Published September 19, 2006