Minding Our Business Program Piles Up Grants

Minding Our Business, a community outreach project organized by the College of Business Administration at Rider University, will be able to expand its programming thanks to a handful of recent grants totaling $90,000.
Monday, July 7, 2008

Minding Our Business, a community outreach project organized by the College of Business Administration at Rider University, will be able to expand its programming thanks to a handful of recent grants totaling $90,000.

The program has received or will receive grants from Bank of America for $20,000, the Trenton Board of Education for $30,000, and Merrill Lynch for $5,000, for its expansion. This year, the Prudential Foundation has promised to increase its support from $5,000 to $15,000 for the summer program. RGK Foundation of Texas also donated a matching fund of $20,000 because M.O.B. met the challenge of receiving at least $20,000 from another source.

Dr. Sigfredo Hernandez, founder and director of M.O.B., said this year’s goal was to double the size of the spring and summer programs. This spring’s program doubled in size, with 200 students and 60 college-aged mentors. With an additional grant from the Prudential Foundation, the summer program has expanded to two summer sessions.

“We are very happy about the latest group of grants,” said Hernandez, associate professor of marketing. “I believe that the recognition received from the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University designating M.O.B. as one of the top 20 summer programs in the country, as well as the 2008 program expansion, helped us increase the level of giving from the Prudential Foundation.”

M.O.B., which offers spring, summer and advanced programs, seeks to advance the personal and vocational development of Trenton youth through entrepreneurship and mentoring by Rider students. During the summer, participants receive training for two weeks on how to start and run a business. All students are required by the end of the training to produce a plan for their business idea.

On Tuesday, July 8, Rider hosted the 2008 Minding Our Business Program Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce (MTAACC) Empowerment Fund Business Plan Competition from 6 to 8 p.m. in the BLC Theater. The competition featured 30 participants, ages 10 to 13, from Trenton public schools, as part of the M.O.B. Summer Program at Rider. The students with the 10 best plans competed for these top awards: $100 for first place, $75 for second place, $50 for third place, and other prizes for fourth and fifth place.

“These 11- and 12-year-old contestants will impress you. Not only are they presenting well-formulated business plans but they will do so in a professional manner,” Hernandez said. Business plans vary, from selling T-shirts to electronic games to fashion and hair accessories to cakes and cookies. Trenton area business owners, managers from local corporations, and M.O.B. Board Members will judge the students’ business plans during the competition, which is sponsored by the MTAACC Empowerment Fund.

This year, a reading specialist and math specialist have been added to the summer program to aid the students as they read about starting and running their businesses, and use math skills when they complete projected income statements. A number of Rider students and alumni are participating. This summer’s tutors include Dan Jacobs, M.B.A. ’08; Wally Miranda, graduate assistant in Organizational Leadership; Shavonne Simmons, undergraduate assistant in Human Resources, and Yasir Ahmad, undergraduate assistant in Finance. Tracy Davis ’87, serves as the assistant instructor and Martha Higginbotham M.A. ’03, is the reading specialist.

Students in the summer program are from various schools including: Grant Elementary School, Hedgepeth Williams Elementary School, Patton J. Hill Elementary School, Rivera Elementary School, Joyce Kilmer Elementary School, Monument Elementary School, Columbus Elementary School, Mott Elementary School, Carroll Robbins Annex Elementary School, Gregory Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. The next session of the summer program begins Monday, July 14.

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