UMD Hillman Entrepreneurs Program Named Finalist for National Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards

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Eric Schurr
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COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, an innovative educational initiative that supports and fosters entrepreneurship in students transferring from Prince George's County Community College to the University of Maryland, has been named a national finalist for the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards in the Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program category, university officials announce today.

The program was acknowledged as an "exemplary emerging initiative reflecting innovation, quality, potential viability, comprehensiveness, depth of support, sustainability, and impact."

"In launching the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program just over five years ago, we were looking to support people who can change our world, have roots in this area and who, after getting this great education, will go back to Prince George's County and shake things up," says David Hillman, whose $3.4 million gift through the David H. and Suzanne D. Hillman Family Foundation made the program possible.

The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program is a scholarship initiative serving transfer students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who have entrepreneurial goals and college degree ambitions. Targeted to community college students, program participants are often the first in their families to attend college.

The program offers students entrepreneurship and leadership courses, intense mentoring, networking and internship opportunities, study abroad options, and community-building opportunities. Students spend 1-2 years at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), and then transfer to the University of Maryland, where they complete requirements for a bachelor's degree in 2-3 years.

While at UMD, Hillman students are taught the basics of business plan development during their first year. They then spend the remaining semesters rotating through a series of courses examining models of success employed by other startup companies. Students also take a public speaking course, where they become proficient in business-related communication skills such as elevator pitches and investor presentations. They are strongly encouraged to enter the University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition, as well as partake in monthly entrepreneurial opportunities organized by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech).

Hillman students have exclusive, 24-7 access to their own group workspace/lounge at UMD, replete with computers, printers, Internet access, a kitchen area and sofas.
A $250,000 Impact Seed Fund, offered through Mtech, is available for students pursuing businesses with potential positive social impact.

Hillman students are fully funded by the program at the community college level, while up to two-thirds of tuition, mandatory fees and books are covered at the University of Maryland. 
The program serves about 100 students each year at both PGCC and UMD combined. The program's student body is ethnically diverse, with 95 percent of students falling into demographic categories other than White/Caucasian.

The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program was selected from a record 47 entries for the USASBE award. Of those, just 11 nominations in six different categories moved on to the finalist round. Finals for the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards are held at the 2012 USASBE Conference in New Orleans, from January 12-15.

USASBE, the leading voice in entrepreneurship research, teaching, and application, with over 1,000 members across the world, established the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards to recognize excellence in entrepreneurship education at the programmatic level. Each is awarded on a competitive basis, with only one institution winning in each category during a given year.

About the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program (
The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, an innovative educational initiative of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, fosters entrepreneurship and community leadership in transfer students who begin their study at Prince George's Community College and complete their bachelor's degrees at the University of Maryland. The four-year scholarship program, launched in fall 2006 through a generous $1.7 million gift from David and Suzanne Hillman, is targeted to students who have an interest in entrepreneurship and an enthusiasm for starting a business or leading a company. The program offers entrepreneurship and leadership courses, intense mentoring, networking opportunities, and community building to each of the students in the program.

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at



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