Building Community

Coffee With Colleagues

Coffee CupsThe Foundation believed that cultivating a sense of community within and across campuses was important to creating a Program culture that would engender cooperation and mutual learning. As McCain put it, “This was not about individual brands. It was a program.”

McCain and Roberts recognized the importance of providing supplemental resources to Project Directors and Fellows to support their success and collegiality. “For several years, we compared the Fellows Program to a group of friends who gather over coffee,” said McCain. He and Roberts began to develop supports for the Program, formally labeled the Coleman Foundation Entrepreneurship Community of Practice (and informally “the Coffee Cup”). The Coffee Cup included a handful of ingredients: face-to-face and web-enabled meetings, a website, and support for external professional development for Fellows

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Coffee Talk: In-Person Meetings

Roberts and McCain designed and led the Program’s fall summit for new and returning Fellows and Project Directors. The gathering was an orientation, learning, and networking event. It ensured that everyone understood the interests, goals, specific focus, and expectations of the Foundation and the Program. It enabled Program Directors and Fellows from across the country and across each campus to meet and begin to connect with one another. Didactic and experiential workshops led by Project Directors and Fellows, and occasionally by outside speakers, provided subject matter, offered teaching tools, and enlivened the meetings, while roundtables, group meals, and long evening conversations served as networking opportunities.

The summits provided two other significant benefits: First, they made time for Fellows to huddle with peers in the same field of study to discuss how to integrate entrepreneurship content within their subject area. Second, summits were a rare opportunity for Project Directors and Fellows to spend time with Foundation staff, including the President and two Program Officers, as well as the Program Coordinator. Project Directors and Fellows interviewed admired their knowledge of crosscampus entrepreneurship education, and their championship of the Program’s participants.

On-campus meetings hosted by Project Directors were well attended, and Fellows appreciated the structure provided by Project Directors. Some meetings included local entrepreneurs, and others showcased the work of Fellows to deans and other administrators.

Fellows and Project Directors agreed that the summit and on-campus meetings were the most important supports, “the heart of the Program.” Both effectively supported learning and relationship-building in a young field.

Coffee Hours: Monthly Webinars

Every month, Fellows and Project Directors gathered on campus to participate in the Coffee Hour, a Program-wide webinar on a topic germane to the work. These were presented first by McCain and later by Roberts, and sometimes featured campus teams.

In contrast to the summit and on-campus meetings hosted by the Project Director, webenabled meetings did not serve the Program as well. Many respondents said there was a wide gap between the intention of monthly webinars—to engage and teach—and actual experience. The Program Coordinator tried several strategies to improve the webinars, without success.

Challenges included both substance and style. Webinar content and presentation quality were graded from occasionally great to generally poor. The problem was in part technological, and thus was far from unique to the Program. Perhaps future methods of electronic sharing will better support participant-speaker involvement, improve speakers’ presentation, and reduce audience multi-tasking. Despite shortcomings, gathering for the webinars proved indirectly valuable, as a regular occasion for Project Directors and Fellows from across campus to meet, talk, and collaborate.

Coffee Table: Program Website

A Program website, created in 2010, was another tactic for encouraging a sense of community. It served as the place where Fellows posted their syllabi, a library of webinars, and a communications platform for Program participants. The website was visited over 1 million times during the Program’s lifespan.

Building Community

Coffee With Colleagues

Coffee CupsThe Foundation believed that cultivating a sense of community within and across campuses was important to creating a Program culture that would engender cooperation and mutual learning. As McCain put it, “This was not about individual brands. It was a program.”

McCain and Roberts recognized the importance of providing supplemental resources to Project Directors and Fellows to support their success and collegiality. “For several years, we compared the Fellows Program to a group of friends who gather over coffee,” said McCain. He and Roberts began to develop supports for the Program, formally labeled the Coleman Foundation Entrepreneurship Community of Practice (and informally “the Coffee Cup”). The Coffee Cup included a handful of ingredients: face-to-face and web-enabled meetings, a website, and support for external professional development for Fellows

.

Coffee Talk: In-Person Meetings

Roberts and McCain designed and led the Program’s fall summit for new and returning Fellows and Project Directors. The gathering was an orientation, learning, and networking event. It ensured that everyone understood the interests, goals, specific focus, and expectations of the Foundation and the Program. It enabled Program Directors and Fellows from across the country and across each campus to meet and begin to connect with one another. Didactic and experiential workshops led by Project Directors and Fellows, and occasionally by outside speakers, provided subject matter, offered teaching tools, and enlivened the meetings, while roundtables, group meals, and long evening conversations served as networking opportunities.

The summits provided two other significant benefits: First, they made time for Fellows to huddle with peers in the same field of study to discuss how to integrate entrepreneurship content within their subject area. Second, summits were a rare opportunity for Project Directors and Fellows to spend time with Foundation staff, including the President and two Program Officers, as well as the Program Coordinator. Project Directors and Fellows interviewed admired their knowledge of crosscampus entrepreneurship education, and their championship of the Program’s participants.

On-campus meetings hosted by Project Directors were well attended, and Fellows appreciated the structure provided by Project Directors. Some meetings included local entrepreneurs, and others showcased the work of Fellows to deans and other administrators.

Fellows and Project Directors agreed that the summit and on-campus meetings were the most important supports, “the heart of the Program.” Both effectively supported learning and relationship-building in a young field.

Coffee Hours: Monthly Webinars

Every month, Fellows and Project Directors gathered on campus to participate in the Coffee Hour, a Program-wide webinar on a topic germane to the work. These were presented first by McCain and later by Roberts, and sometimes featured campus teams.

In contrast to the summit and on-campus meetings hosted by the Project Director, webenabled meetings did not serve the Program as well. Many respondents said there was a wide gap between the intention of monthly webinars—to engage and teach—and actual experience. The Program Coordinator tried several strategies to improve the webinars, without success.

Challenges included both substance and style. Webinar content and presentation quality were graded from occasionally great to generally poor. The problem was in part technological, and thus was far from unique to the Program. Perhaps future methods of electronic sharing will better support participant-speaker involvement, improve speakers’ presentation, and reduce audience multi-tasking. Despite shortcomings, gathering for the webinars proved indirectly valuable, as a regular occasion for Project Directors and Fellows from across campus to meet, talk, and collaborate.

Coffee Table: Program Website

A Program website, created in 2010, was another tactic for encouraging a sense of community. It served as the place where Fellows posted their syllabi, a library of webinars, and a communications platform for Program participants. The website was visited over 1 million times during the Program’s lifespan.

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