The Catalyst Program provides connections, support, and seed grants to students to try out their entrepreneurial ideas. At the same time, the program builds the capacity of colleges, high schools and community youth programs to offer experiential entrepreneurship education.
Throughout the Catalysts experience students should:
(1) Develop an Entrepreneurial Identity
(2) Build Entrepreneurial Skills & Self-Confidence
(3) Connect to the Sandbox Ecosystem
To date the Catalyst Programs have had up to 600 students participating. Over 300 ideas funded. These teams have the opportunity to work on their idea for a period of 3 years and receive up to $2,250 and connect with mentors that can help with the evolution of their projects.
Currently, 3 teams have transition to the Sandbox Entrepreneur Program and are receiving intensive workshops and mentorship that will help launch their venture successfully. To find out more about their experience, check out the Sandbox Winter Accelerator on the website and read their blogs! (http://merrimackvalleysandbox.org/entrepreneur-program/accelerator1/entrepreneurs-list/ – click on each entrepreneur to read their blog!)
Each year to celebrate the accomplishments of the student entrepreneurs the Catalyst Program host a showcase that gives students the opportunity to share their projects with the community leaders, successful entrepreneurs, investors and other youth. In addition, students have the opportunity to pitch their idea and win extra cash.
The Deshpande Foundation launched the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative in December of 2010. This initiative was created to build up the innovation ecosystem in the Merrimack Valley through partnerships that promote innovation and entrepreneurship in business, higher education and the community.
The sandbox’s first pilot program, Campus Catalyst was launched in January of 2011 in partnership with UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Merrimack College, and Northern Essex Community College.
This program started as an opportunity for our college students to roll up their sleeves, take risks and embark into new and refreshing adventures. During our first year over 100 college students participated and worked on projects that focused on addressing social challenges and sparking new economic development in the Merrimack Valley. Projects ranged from social or environmental changes to innovative technologies.
Based on the success of Campus Catalyst, in the fall of 2011 the Community Catalyst Program was launched with the help of local community based organizations and high school partners in order to provide youth from ages 14 to 24 with the opportunity to try out entrepreneurial ideas. During the first year of Community Catalyst over 50 youth worked in their projects and over 200 youth learned Entrepreneurship Education.
For all questions, please contact:
Janin Duran – Program Manager