Thursday, December 2, 2021

University of La Verne and New Community Investments Partner to Launch the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact


University is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month Center by launching innovative program targeting aspiring minority entrepreneurs

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the University of La Verne is announcing that aspiring local minority entrepreneurs in Southern California will now have an opportunity to expand and hone their business acumen and skills courtesy of a new entrepreneurship program offered at the University. This opportunity is significant given the university’s demographics, location, and Latino small-business are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. 

The Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact is the result of a new partnership between the University and NEW Community Investments, an organization dedicated to empowering the economic mobility of traditionally underserved and financially marginalized people groups by facilitating access to capital infusions that support the growth of small businesses. The new center will focus on increasing the economic power and impact of University of La Verne students, alumni, regional businesses, not-for-profits, and community organizations by providing entrepreneurial training to several learning cohorts each year and integrating academic and hands-on approaches to job creation and long-term career support. Through targeted training and ongoing support, the center’s ultimate goal is to take the economy of Inland Southern California to the next level. 

A recent Stanford report revealed that Latinos are starting businesses faster than the national average across several industries, growing 34 percent over the last 10 years compared to just 1 percent for all other small businesses. The growing success of Latino small business owners comes as Latinos are increasingly becoming an economic force in the U.S. and have contributed about $500 billion to the economy in annual sales.  

The Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship’s special focus will be on Hispanic and other underserved communities in the region, creating unparalleled opportunities for participants to generate economic momentum in their respective communities. The center will leverage the  University of La Verne’s expansive reach to reach these communities, with its seven regional campuses in Bakersfield, Burbank, Irvine, Ontario, Oxnard, Santa Clarita, and Victorville, plus two military centers at Vandenberg Space Force Base and Naval Base Ventura County. 

One of the key visionaries involved in developing the center is Quentin Strode, President, and CEO of NEW Community Investments. “Unrealized potential is a terrible thing to waste, and we recognize the tremendous talent and ambition that is prevalent among entrepreneurs from our diverse communities,”  Strode said. “Traditionally, incubator and accelerator programs have not focused on cultivating talent in underserved communities. Our center seeks to change this by providing more access to training, business education, and capital markets. We believe this will result in more sustainable community-based businesses, quality jobs, and wealth generation. We are focusing on community  businesses to create economic mobility for all of our communities.” 

As a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), the University of La Verne serves a highly diverse student body numbering over 7,000. Forty-three percent of its students are the first in their families to attend college. U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked the university among the top five universities in the nation for social mobility, recognizing its success in empowering moderate and low-income students to move toward becoming high-earning professionals. Empowering entrepreneurs from underserved populations is a logical component of the university’s mission. 

“At the University of La Verne, we are always looking to the future,” said university president Devorah Lieberman. “Following the recent completion of a highly successful and record-breaking fundraising campaign, we are poised to seize opportunities for positive change like the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact. We pride ourselves on fully supporting our student’s social and economic mobility, their families, and our neighboring communities. This center is yet  another step to forward our mission.” 

“I am honored and privileged to be working on this innovative project that will actively focus and recruit from the area’s diverse burgeoning communities,” said Dr. David C. Lizárraga, University of La Verne trustee and founder and chairman of the TELACU Education Foundation. “This program is primed to attract participation from the emerging ranks of aspiring multicultural entrepreneurs who want to open a  successful business and contribute to the US economy. Given the university’s designation as a Hispanic  Serving Institution, I encourage all aspiring Latino entrepreneurs to look to the new Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship as a resource. Given its potential, I anticipate we’ll generate a real and powerful impact  on the business landscape in Southern California.” 

To view the backgrounder document describing the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation,  and Social Impact, please click here: Individuals interested in applying for the inaugural class of the new Center can apply by clicking here. If you don’t think you are quite ready to join the university’s program, please check out its self-paced entrepreneurship course to begin your journey.

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Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.