A college-readiness program called BUILD shows that it can. They use entrepreneurship to propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. To date, 99 percent of BUILD seniors have graduated from high school and been accepted to college. Eighty-eight percent have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities.

And the Sawyer Business School’s Center for Entrepreneurship is helping their cause. Together, the Business School and BUILD recently offered a three-day entrepreneurship boot camp for seven high school students.

Students Get Hands-on Training

Led by George Moker, director of Entrepreneurship Programs, and BUILD faculty, the boot camp offered practical consulting experience with a local startup called Project Repat.

The students spent the first day in a pre-visit workshop at the Sawyer Business School with Professor Moker, focusing on interviewing techniques, problem solving, and role-playing in anticipation of visiting Project Repat in Dudley, Mass. During their visit to Project Repat, the students learned the ins and outs of the business, which sells blankets made out of recycled, nostalgic, T-shirts.

They continued their project over the next two days engaged in classroom discussions and workshops at the Sawyer Business School. Working in teams, the students analyzed the company and pitched ideas on how to expand the business.

“It was a great opportunity for high school students to develop their analytical skills and gain some real-world consulting experience,” says Dan Feyock, BSBA ’13, who helped set up the partnership last spring.

“I was extremely impressed by the passion and focus shown by our seven BUILD students. In the span of less than three days, a group of high school juniors were able to prepare for their client organization and recommend opportunities, all of which interested Project Repat. Entrepreneurship is an impactful tool as evidenced by how well the student teams were able to provide viable alternatives to their client. We are looking to expand our high school entrepreneurship programs,” said Professor Moker.

Partnership Rooted in Shared Vision

“Working with Suffolk students and faculty is a natural fit,” says Joseph Grassia, business program manager at BUILD. “We want to get our students on college campuses as much as possible. We’re very lucky to have a forward-thinking entrepreneurial university right next door,” said Grassia.

BUILD’s connection with Suffolk first started with Suffolk’s entrepreneurship honors society Sigma Nu Tau.

“BUILD offered Sigma Nu Tau the perfect opportunity for us to mentor young entrepreneurs and have an impact in our community,” said Feyock, who’s the former president of Sigma.

“Suffolk University joined Sigma Nu Tau two years ago and we have inducted 60 entrepreneurship majors. I am so proud of the officers and members who chose BUILD as the cornerstone of their mission in the area of social entrepreneurship. Our students work directly on designing and implementing programs to help high school students with their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Professor Moker.

Since the spring, Sigma members have been volunteering three days a week at BUILD, mentoring students and helping them develop new businesses ideas.

“We want our honors society members and faculty to be accessible to BUILD so that their students have strong role models,” Feyock said.

Sigma members have also volunteered at BUILD events and helped coordinate the BUILD Step-Up Ceremony, which was held at Suffolk earlier this year.

“We hope to develop more programs and events with BUILD. The goal is to show BUILD students that college is a realistic goal and for us to be positive role models for them,” Feyock said.