Student Programs  / What We Do

The Sandbox Student 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.

During the experience, students: 

(1) Develop an Entrepreneurial Identity

(2) Build Entrepreneurial Skills & Self-Confidence

(3) Connect to the Sandbox Ecosystem

To date the the program has had more than 600 students participating. 

Each year to celebrate the accomplishments of the student entrepreneurs the Sandbox Studen 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 the Sandbox Student, 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
Phone: 978-934-6518