Berea College, KY Entrepreneurship for the Public Good

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Berea College, KY, US

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

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About the Program
According to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the best hope for stabilizing and diversifying Appalachia’s economy lies in the creation and expansion of businesses that provide jobs, build local wealth and contribute broadly to economic and community development. The need to expand and support entrepreneurial activity as a means for revitalizing Appalachian communities led to the creation of Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) program with a $7.6 million dollar endowment. The EPG program is a model for making positive change in the Appalachian region through the two summer programs where students learn how small businesses and nonprofit organizations employ responsible practices to provide jobs and build healthy communities. The objective of the program is to teach students from a variety of disciplines about entrepreneurship and develop their leadership skills to equip them to make a positive impact on the Appalachian region…and beyond.

The goals of the Entrepreneurship for the Public Good program are to engage Berea College students in entrepreneurship and leadership activities in order to enable them to:

  • explore theoretical and practical approaches to entrepreneurship for the public good in the context of economic development in Appalachia and beyond;
  • identify and seize new entrepreneurial opportunities;
  • develop and build leadership skills;
  • prepare for professional careers with a purpose; and
  • add value to small businesses and nonprofits in the region.

The EPG program helps students become agents of change in the Appalachian region and beyond. The program bridges several curricular and co-curricular areas and makes connections among and across programs. It helps students recognize the value of enterprises that create public benefits, whether they are operating within business or nonprofit frameworks. Indeed, EPG acknowledges that a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial enterprises, both commercial and philanthropic, is critical to the future of Appalachia. During the Summer Institute, which meets daily from 9am-3pm, M-F for eight weeks, students learn about entrepreneurship, leadership and community development through classroom sessions, discussions, field trips in the region, experiential learning opportunities that culminate into a business plan or feasibility study and a community partner project. In the second summer in the program, students apply what they learned during the Summer Institute by serving in an Entrepreneurial Internship with a nonprofit or for-profit organization for 10 weeks.

An Interdisciplinary Approach
Since its inception, one of the unique core features of the EPG program has been to encourage students from any major or background to learn and apply entrepreneurship and leadership skills in a wide variety of contexts. Agriculture students can learn entrepreneurial concepts pertinent to farming and forestry industries, nursing students can learn how to set up a clinic, art students can learn how to sell their art, and students focusing on sustainability and environmental studies can learn how to promote collaboration among economic, environmental and social service sectors. The course helps students understand business and entrepreneurship principles which include discovering how to cultivate individual entrepreneurial skills, understanding the role of small businesses in contributing to the local, regional and national economy, identifying and seizing new entrepreneurial opportunities, learning the components of starting a business or nonprofit organization – including planning, start-up, marketing, financials, operations and management – and ultimately, thinking and acting entrepreneurially regardless of the students’ chosen career path.

Students who cannot commit to a two-year program can enroll in other courses offered as part of Berea’s expanding entrepreneurship and leadership curriculum or participate in Campus-Wide Activities open to all students.