The League for Innovation in the Community College delivered its prestigious Innovation of the Year Award to Bergen Community College, which paired students with local small businesses to help develop students’ real-world skills as business consultants. The Bergen County Economic Development office partnered with the college to launch the SizeUp experiential learning program.
According to the League of Innovation in the Community College, “Bergen Community College President Dr. Eric Friedman formed an Economic Recovery Committee consisting of local businesses, faculty, staff, community stakeholders, and students to collaborate on strategies to drive economic recovery. Among the initiatives was a survey developed to understand the post-pandemic challenges of small businesses and, subsequently, to identify areas the college could assist in developing students’ real-world skills. In response to the survey’s results, the college worked with the Bergen County Office of Economic Development to launch SizeUp, an experiential learning program in which students serve as consultants to small business owners. To date, students have assisted more than 200 businesses by designing social media campaigns, building websites, creating video customer testimonials, designing logos, and writing business plans—all at no cost to the entrepreneurs. Students also participate in a comprehensive professional development program at the college that seeks to further hone their communication, professionalism, and leadership skills.” Innovators at the Community College include Linda Caruso, Manager, Business Accelerator; Luis De Abreu, Project Manager, Project Manager, STEMatics, and Program Director, STEM/ and Shirley Pachon, Coordinator, Business Accelerator.