The IEE’s Urban & Community Entrepreneurship Program (UCEP) graduated its 15th cohort of the Community Power to Prosper program on Wednesday, November 17 with a ceremony at the University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center in Homewood. The program now includes 162 graduates since the program’s inception in 2012.
The twelve participants completed the 5-month program that kicked off in June 2021. The program covered key topics integral to managing and growing a business such as financial analysis, human resources, marketing, legalities of small business management, business strategy, and more. The graduates of this year’s program are:
- Oscar Avila, La Palapa Mexican Cuisine & Mezcal Bar
- Diana Byas, Thick But Fit
- Isis Chatman, Ruth’s Way, Inc
- Ranada Harris, Healed Nailcare by Ranada Estes, LLC
- Krystal Gruber, Swaggalicious Restaurant, LLC
- Nikkita Jackson, 412CleanTeam
- Jesús Martinez, La Palapa Mexican Cuisine & Mezcal Bar
- Daesha Harris, Out of the Box Creations, LLC
- Adrienne Murray-Rainey, Annette Hair Co.
- Donald Robinson, Global Human Performance
- Jenifer Schweitzer, One Girl’s Graphics
- Alice Washington, The Stepping Stone Pathways/TSSP Housing, LLC
At the ceremony, the twelve graduates each delivered a venture presentation for their businesses detailing the value proposition and offerings their businesses provide for their Pittsburgh-based communities. They also reflected on how they’ve benefited from participation in the Community Power to Prosper program.
Adrienne Murray-Rainey, owner of Annette Hair Co., talked about how the program has driven her:
“I’ve always been a proponent of knowledge is power but participating in this program from a business-based perspective, there’s a next level of motivation that comes with being informed – it creates an empowerment.”
Donald Robinson, owner of Global Human Performance, reflected on what courses in the program have been the most impactful for him since it started:
“When it comes to what I’ve actually done to help my business, [the finance class and the insurance class] are the things that I really valued.”
Daesha Harris, owner of Out of the Box Creations LLC, spoke about the all-around benefits of the program that she’s experienced:
“I literally have the resources, I have the network, I’ve made great friends and I could ask for anything, I can get help with anything, and that’s really what you need as a small business trying to become a big business.”
The Community Power to Prosper program comes at no cost to the program’s participants and is funded through generous sponsorship from PNC Foundation, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, Comcast Business, Huntington Bank, UPMC, and Wilke & Associates CPAs.
Diana Byas, owner of Thick But Fit, summed up what the Community Power to Prosper experience meant to her as an entrepreneur – and what she plans to do to help fellow business owners:
More information about UCEP and the Community Power to Prosper program can be found at entrepreneur.pitt.edu/cp2p.