The David H. and Suzanne D. Hillman Family Foundation created the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program by partnering with the University of Maryland (UM) and Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) in 2006. In the spring of 2013, the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program expanded its reach to offer enrollment to students at Montgomery College (MC). The first cohort of MC Hillman Entrepreneurs joined the Program in January 2013. This expansion augments the Program’s efforts to create a vibrant community of students that share a common entrepreneurial mindset, but have a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations.
Since then, the program has supported students who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education by offering community college students scholarships that help cover the costs of tuition and books and then supporting them in a seamless transfer to UM in pursuit of their bachelor’s degree. Through these generous donations, students receive scholarships, one-on-one academic mentoring, assistance in securing internships, opportunities for enrichment activities outside of the classroom, and a unique series of entrepreneurship courses designed specifically to develop them into successful entrepreneurs and community leaders. Equally important, the Program establishes a rich social academic network of likeminded peers who will carry the legacy of the Program into their communities as alumni.
The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program offers a new model in education. Students who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education are now starting their college career at either Prince George’s Community College or Montgomery College and transferring to the University of Maryland to complete their degree in any major. They receive up to 2/3 tuition in scholarship funds. They also receive deep mentoring from full-time mentors at each institution. Students participate in community and team-building activities while taking classes in entrepreneurship and leadership.
Hillman alumna April Chaires
(front left) with President Obama
at Martha's Table in Washington, DC.
Students transfer to Maryland in pursuit of their bachelor's degree where they continue to receive up to 2/3 of their tuition. Starting Fall 2012, all Hillman students will pursue a minor in technology entrepreneurship as part of a new offering at the University of Maryland. With the expansion, up to 180 students will be receiving scholarships each year with 30 at each community college and up to 120 at the University of Maryland. The community college programs are second year programs with student selection occurring at the end of the first year to better determine potential for success. At Maryland the program is a junior/senior program.
This program is about training entrepreneurial leaders who will become the ethical leaders of tomorrow’s local economy. Just as David and Suzanne Hillman are giving back to the community that has brought them success, these Hillman Entrepreneurs are expected to contribute to the economic growth of the community and to help others who follow after them succeed.
The Hillman Entrepreneurs program is designed to help students:
Develop the skills for identifying and analyzing entrepreneurial opportunities
Learn through a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship
Engage with mentors in the business community to help turn dreams into businesses
Graduate and become successful leaders who give back to their local communities
The program seeks to grow the leadership qualities of students who exhibit:
Interest in starting a business/social venture
Strong values with an interest in giving back
Confidence and capability during essay and interview assessments
Academic competence with the capability to succeed
Creativity through innovative thinking
Hillman students come from a wide variety of transferable majors, including engineering, math, information systems, accounting, business, psychology, education, art, and economics. Some are traditional, college-aged students, while others have had years of life experience and careers before joining the program. Some are raising families, while others are supporting parents who need them. Virtually all are working while going to school, and juggle many obligations, knowing that gaining a college education will help them build a better future for themselves and their families. Hillman students possess resilience, persistence, an entrepreneurial mindset, and the drive to finish their bachelor’s degrees and succeed in the business world as entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial leaders. Some students want to pursue non-profits to help others like themselves, while others plan to pursue businesses and become as successful as David Hillman, or the other successful entrepreneurs who they meet through the program’s networking opportunities.