Northeast State lands $15,000 entrepreneurial grant

Northeast State Community College received a $15,000 grant in the NACCE Entrepreneurial College in Action Grant Competition, powered by The Coleman Foundation. The award was presented at the annual conference of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) recently held in Phoenix, AZ.

The grant will support entrepreneurial endeavors in the region. College officials envision creating dedicated assets and incubation methods to encourage start-up ventures. These may include office space, computers/technology, and mobile resources, as well as guidelines for entrepreneurial thinking. The grant will specifically provide funding for a 3-D printer, robots, and simulators in a mobile unit to travel to various locations - such as public and private secondary schools - and to businesses and industry to illustrate new technology in STEM programs. The printer and other equipment will be used to create prototypes. 

NACCE is the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges. The Coleman Foundation is a private, independent grant-maker that has donated over $50 million to improve the quality of entrepreneurship education, promote the option of self-employment, and help create a new generation of business owners.

More than 30 colleges entered proposals into the competition. Of these, 10 were chosen to present before a team of judges and a live audience at the NACCE Conference. The Northeast State team included Dr. Janice Gilliam, president; Dr. C. Keith Young, dean of Off-Campus Programs and Services; Cindy Tauscher, coordinator of Workforce Solutions; and Lynn Anderson, associate professor of Accounting. 

All 10 community college received grants totaling $150,000 to support programs to build their capacity for promoting entrepreneurship in the communities they serve.

In addition, Young, Anderson, and Gilliam attended a pre-conference session on the principles of effectuation – a guide for entrepreneurs in their ventures. The session also prepared each of the college teams for their presentations. Young and Anderson gave the pitch for the grant - a two-minute overview followed by eight minutes of questions by the judges.

The focus of the competition centered on the action steps of NACCE’s Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge (PFEP), which was established in 2011. Through PFEP, over 300 community college presidents have pledged to undertake five action steps designed to expand entrepreneurial thinking within their institutions and communities.

The actions steps are based on the theory of effectuation, which was developed in 2001 by Saras Sarasvathy, professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. The theory encourages entrepreneurs to avoid pre-set goals, trends, and past history, opening themselves to innovation, flexibility, and the help of like-minded partners.

According to Sarasvathy, these five principles make up effectual logic:

Bird-in-hand – When expert entrepreneurs set out to build a new venture, they start with their means: who I am, what I know, and whom I know. Then the entrepreneurs imagine possibilities that originate from their means. 

Northeast State example: Renovation of the Bristol’s historic King Building by alumnus Allen Hurley. The facility houses Northeast State, a restaurant, and special event accommodations. Hurley enhanced existing property and turned it into a central resource for downtown businesses and Northeast State.

Affordable Loss – Expert entrepreneurs limit risk by understanding what they can afford to lose at each step, instead of seeking large all-or-nothing opportunities. They choose goals and actions, where there is an upside even if the downside ends up happening.

Northeast State example: Redesign of Learning Support curriculum. The new curriculum now provides students with a much better chance of completing coursework and continuing on a path of completion. It was a low risk redesign, knowing that if it didn’t work, we still had the previous structure to fall back on if it didn’t work. Given the poor success of students taking developmental course work, we had little to lose in the redesign.

Lemonade - Expert entrepreneurs invite the surprise factor. Instead of making “what-if” scenarios to deal with worst-case scenarios, experts interpret “bad” news and surprises as potential clues to create new markets.

Northeast State example: Renovation of Johnson City’s Downtown Centre. Once-considered beyond usefulness, the building’s worth will be greatly increased with the restoration. While many had written off the building as unsalvageable, engineers confirmed the solidity of the foundation and renovations solved the rain water collection system issues on the parking garage’s top deck.

Patchwork Quilt - Expert entrepreneurs build partnerships with self-selecting stakeholders. By obtaining pre-commitments from these key partners early on in the venture, experts reduce uncertainty and co-create the new market with its interested participant.

Northeast State example: The College has partnered with several businesses and industries in the region. More recently, a partnership with Bell Helicopter will create an aviation-specific curriculum to train the next generation of aviation professionals. NeState and Eastman Chemical Company won an award in 2013 for a corporate/college partnership for the RCAM (Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing) through AACC (American Association of Community Colleges), one of five college nation-wide to receive this recognition. 

Pilot-in-the-plane - By focusing on activities within their control, expert entrepreneurs know their actions will result in the desired outcomes. An effectual worldview is rooted in the belief that the future is neither found nor predicted, but rather made.

Northeast State example: The College has conducted numerous Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) meetings with business/industry stakeholders to more accurately align technical education with industry needs. The results provide a solid and relevant foundation for developing curriculum and instructional materials. The College has also initiated expansion of teaching sites to within 20-30 miles of the citizens of the five-county NE TN region, working to meet the Drive to 55 initiative and enhance economic and workforce development in response to the nation’s skilled worker crisis. 

About The Coleman Foundation
The Coleman Foundation is a private, independent grant-maker focusing primarily on supporting Midwest non-profit organizations. Foundation resources support cancer care, treatment and research, developmental disability services, and entrepreneurship education. In 1981, the Foundation began to question why individuals are encouraged to “get a job” rather than to “create” one. Since that time, the Foundation has committed over $46 million to improve the quality of entrepreneurship education, promote the option of self-employment, and help create a new generation of business owners. For more information, visit

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is an organization of educators, administrators, presidents and entrepreneurs, focused on inciting entrepreneurship in their community and on their campus. NACCE has two main goals: 1. Empower the college to approach the business of running a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset; and 2. Grow the community college’s role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem.

Founded in 2002, NACCE is at the heart of the "entrepreneurship movement.” Through membership, an annual conference and exhibition, regional summits, a quarterly journal, monthly webinars, a dynamic list-serv, and training resources, NACCE serves as the hub for the dissemination and integration of knowledge and successful practices regarding entrepreneurial leadership, entrepreneurship education and student business incubation. These initiatives and resulting actions advance economic prosperity in the communities served by its member colleges. NACCE is a founding member of the White House-led Startup America Partnership. For more information, visit

NACCE has over 300 member colleges, representing nearly 2,000 members and approximately 465,000 students.