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ECMC Group and U of M Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship Announce 2023 DePodesta Leadership Fellows

February 23, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS—Minneapolis-based ECMC Group, in partnership with the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, has announced three new fellows joining the John DePodesta Leadership Fellowship Program. The program provides graduate students in business, public policy, sociology or education the opportunity to co-design or launch a new venture in partnership with existing educational organizations that seek to improve the quality of postsecondary education.

“The DePodesta Fellowship Program supports student entrepreneurs that we hope will develop into the next generation of innovative leaders for postsecondary education,” said Dan Fisher, president and CEO of ECMC Group. “They’re addressing persistent challenges and opportunities across education and workforce, and with each new Fellow in this program, we see unique perspectives and fresh approaches.”

This is the fourth year of the fellowship program, which has provided support for ten fellows including this year’s cohort. Initial feasibility grants of $15,000 are awarded annually for up to four students. Subsequent launch grants of up to $75,000 may be made available to students demonstrating strong progress with their concepts, significant potential impact from their venture, and a commitment to operate the venture full-time for at least 12 months post-graduation. Since the program launched, two fellows have received the additional $75,000 to continue their projects.

“Through their fellowships, these students will develop their entrepreneurship skills and take their initial steps to become visible leaders in the education community,” says John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center. “We are proud of the evolution of this program, and we continue to look forward to supporting these innovators as they drive change.”

The Fellowship was developed in recognition of John DePodesta, a founding board member and immediate past chair of ECMC Group, who has spent more than 25 years working to help students succeed.

The 2023 DePodesta Fellows are:

Nida Yamen

  • Proposed Venture: Develop a video-based digital literacy curriculum that is able to impart knowledge for utilizing basic digital and software tools. The goal is to utilize existing video content to better develop a workforce with essential digital skills required to secure stable employment. 
  • Yamen is a first-year MBA student at the Carlson School with a background in public health and the development of innovative network partnerships in her native India. She is enrolled in the Carlson School’s Customer Discovery course to explore the need for digital training programs designed to serve targeted postsecondary education markets.

Enet Mukurazita

  • Proposed Venture: Through a digital platform, provide educational services to create a collaborative research network that enhances the inclusive and equal participation of women graduate scholars in higher education worldwide.
  • Mukurazita is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota. She is enrolled in the Carlson School’s Customer Discovery course to conduct additional primary research with researchers in both the United States and her native Zimbabwe.

Zeke Jackson

  • Proposed Venture: Identify barriers and develop alternatives to better utilize available capacity within postsecondary education institutions for high school students. The goal is to reduce the cost of postsecondary education and increase access to underrepresented groups.
  • Jackson is a senior at the Carlson School and has served as the executive director of people for PSEO since 2018. He currently serves as the undergraduate student body vice president and is enrolled in the Carlson School’s Customer Discovery course to conduct additional primary research with high school students, administrators and state legislators engaged with postsecondary education alternatives.

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