UWG’s SIFE Team Helps Carroll Tomorrow Obtain Grant

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

With $2,500 in hand, Carroll Tomorrow is looking forward to starting an entrepreneur program for high school students. The money comes to Carroll County’s economic development organization by way of the University of West Georgia.

With $2,500 in hand, Carroll Tomorrow is looking forward to starting an entrepreneur program for high school students. The money comes to Carroll County’s economic development organization by way of the University of West Georgia.“We want to develop youth entrepreneurs at Carroll County high schools with UWG students as mentors to those high school students,” said Donna Armstrong-Lackey the vice president of business development at Carroll Tomorrow and the executive director of The Burson Center, the business incubator.

The young entrepreneur program is still in the planning stages, but Armstrong-Lackey hopes to start it this fall and to host a boot camp session in the summer of 2013. She hopes to have about 15 students, chosen from Carroll’s high schools, in the program.

Carroll Tomorrow is seeking other grants to fully fund the project. But this initial money came because of a program Carroll Tomorrow and UWG’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team developed last year.

The student-lead team created The Road Home, a series of classes that taught financial skills to 10 women living in public housing.

“The Road Home is really about providing people the opportunity to create a solid foundation for their lives,” said Amanda Kinder, the UWG student who spearheaded the project.

“Credit -- credit scores, credit reports, financing -- is such a fundamental part of the American dream, and unfortunately there are a large number of people in this country that have no idea how credit works,” she said. “To buy a car, to buy a home, even to secure an apartment and a decent job, you need to have good credit…. This project was designed to empower people through education.”

With their new skills the women in the program learned how to repair their credit and manage their money. One of the women bought her first home this year and several others are working on plans to start their own businesses.

“These ladies proved they had aspirations and they wanted to be self sufficient,” Armstrong-Lackey said. “I consider it very successful.”

SIFE is an international non-profit organization that encourages social entrepreneurship, business approaches to solving the problems of people in need. Jon Anderson, an associate professor of management who is now the deputy provost, started the SIFE team at UWG in 2006.

The SIFE team initially applied to the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for $500, but was pleasantly surprised with the additional funds, said Monica Williams Smith, the team’s faculty advisor and a lecturer in the Department of Management in Richards College of Business.

“Our students go out and solve some real problems. They do different types of community service using fundamental business practices,” Smith said.