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The MCC Blue Sky Fund – Mini Grant Program Overview

Where Big Ideas Soar!

It is the mission of Metro Community College (MCC) to promote and support entrepreneurial aspirations by its students across the entire curriculum of study and move students from “thinking” or “learning” stages to actual implementation.  The Blue Sky Fund Mini-Grant Program will enable MCC students to present their entrepreneurial or innovative endeavors being worked on during their course of study for mini-grant funding consideration between $100 - $500 to enable them to pre-test, research, start, sustain or grow their ideas.  The Fund will consider all ideas; however will focus on those with a for-profit, non-profit or social agenda.

Eligibility: The Blue Sky Fund will be open for any MCC student from any program of study actively enrolled in at least 1 for-credit course during the Spring 2012 Quarter OR for prior MCC Entrepreneur Program students having previously completed at least three of the six courses in the ENTR prefix (ENTR 1050, 2040, 2050, 2060, 2070 or 2090).

Submission: Interested and eligible candidates will submit a completed Blue Sky Fund Application by Friday, March 31, 2012 at midnight. Submit the completed application by email attachment as a .doc, .docx., or .rtf file to Heather Nelson at hnelson@mccneb.edu.

Funding Requests: Applicants will identify their specific requests for funding support needed (a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $500) by identifying the following on The Blue Sky Fund Application:

  • Specific item(s) to be purchased, obtained and/or invested in.
  • The vendor or retailer of preferred purchase.
  • The actual, final cost including shipping and tax of each item requested.
  • The necessity or reason for purchase.
  • Measurable outcome results to be achieved by the usage of each item requested.

Examples of Eligible Requests: The Blue Sky Fund will support the acquisition of items, tools, resources, etc. to enable those awarded to test, research, start, sustain or grow their entrepreneurial or innovative endeavors. Items most likely to be funded will be used within the grant period to enable outcomes to be measured and reported. It is not the goal of The Fund to simply purchase resources that will be stockpiled or saved for later usage nor is this a typical scholarship program to fund tuition, text books, classroom resources needed, etc. The following is a list of examples of eligible requests to truly support the implementation of entrepreneurial or innovative ideas; although certainly not an inclusive list of all considered expenditures. Applicants are encouraged to pre-screen ideas with the Grant Manager ahead of time to insure requests can be met.

  • State business registration fees
  • Legal: Fees/costs for formal drafting of legal documents needed.  (organizational documents, contracts, etc…)
  • Sales: Fees/costs for designing, printing of marketing collateral (logo creation, business cards, brochures, vehicle wrap, clothing to be worn as a uniform, etc…), sales supports
  • Marketing: advertisement/signage creation, trade show fees and booth set up
  • Technology: Web Site development/management, tools/gadgets/software to expedite, enable, track, record business operations or enable sales.
  • Accounting: Fees/costs incurred with bookkeeping, tracking, recording, etc…
  • Research: purchase of survey materials, industry reports, books, databases, software (that will specifically be used within the grant period.
  • Equipment: purchase of assets and inventory immediately needed to start, grow or sustain

Judging: Completed applications received by the submission due date will go through a two-round process:

  • Round 1: An internal screening committee will review all applications received by the submission due date to invite a small group that are deemed to have submitted completed applications that bring interest and readiness for funding support to participate in Round 2. The screening committee will announce those applicants invited to participate in Round 2 by Wednesday, April 11th.
  • Round 2: Applicants invited to participate in Round 2 will make an in-person presentation to a team of judges for award consideration at the Heartland Student Entrepreneur Conference hosted by MCC on Friday, April 20th. Round 2 selected applicants will have a guaranteed, complimentary pass which includes lunch to attend the entire Conference activities. Selected applications will present in no greater than 3 minutes with up to an additional 2 minutes to address questions from a panel of judges to identify serious candidates ready for funding support. Use of props, prototypes, handouts, samples, or visual technology display are highly encouraged to convey one's funding request. Participants will have access to technology such as a computer and slide projector/screen and the ability to use the Internet and PowerPoint. Special technology requests will be fulfilled as possible by MCC or the student applicant personally.

Awards: A maximum of $3,000 will be publicly awarded during the Spring 2012 Quarter at the Heartland Student Entrepreneur Conference on Friday, April 20th to eligible applicants (no more than $500 per student) that demonstrate their readiness after successfully completing two rounds of judging described in the "Judging" section. Awardees will work directly with the Grant Manager, Heather Nelson, to acquire their requested items as approved. Payment will be made directly to the vendors or retailers identified. Funds must be dispensed by August 1, 2012 to enable student awardees to implement their objectives as agreed by the grantor (MCC) and achieve measurable results by the end of the grant period, or December 15, 2012. Funds not used by this date, unless approved ahead of time by the Grant Manager, will be forfeited.

Reporting: Each awardee will individually complete a Grant Summary Report by December 15, 2012 to the Grant Manager, Heather Nelson by email attachment sent to hnelson@mccneb.edu as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file outlining their results achieved and lessons learned. A template will be provided to each awardee to timely complete.

Commitment: Selected awardees of The Blue Sky Fund will formally agree to the following before funding will be made:

  • Enable MCC to use their name, image, plan summary and outcomes in press releases, marketing, public speaking and other outreach activities with the student body at large and the community in general.
  • Utilize the Blue Sky funding as agreed. If it is deemed that a student has misrepresented themselves or otherwise used the funding in a non-sanctioned way; the student may be subject to repaying all of the funds received (even if already expensed) to the College.
  • Attend a minimum of 1 Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization meeting (CEO — MCC's student entrepreneur club) to present to their peers of the successes and challenges experienced with the actual implementation of their ideas by the end of the grant period.
  • Track and report measurable outcomes achieved (or not) through the fund.
  • File a final Grant Summary Report by end of the grant period or December 15, 2012. (template to be provided)

Questions: Address questions regarding The Blue Sky Fund to either:

Important Dates: The following dates are applicable to the Spring 2012 Quarter funding of The Blue Sky Fund Mini-Grant Program:

Spring 2012 Quarter Funding of The Blue Sky Fund Mini-Grant Program
Application Due: Friday, March 31, 2012
Round 1 Announcements: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Round 2 Presentations: Friday, April 20, 2012
Awardees Announced: Friday, April 20th, 2012
Funds To Be Dispensed by: August 1, 2012
Grant Summary Report due: December 15, 2012
Grant Period: April 20 — December 15, 2012

Grant Manager: Heather Nelson, hnelson@mccneb.edu or 402-289-1376

Opportunity: It is with much gratitude to have The Blue Sky Fund Mini-Grant Program be made into a reality for MCC students through grant funding support awarded to the Entrepreneurship Program through the Metropolitan Community College Foundation.

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