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UCEP Celebrates 12 Community Power to Prosper Graduates

11 of the 12 graduates of the IEE's 2021 Community Power to Prosper program

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.

11 of the 12 graduates of the IEE's 2021 Community Power to Prosper program
(From left) 1st row: Krystal Gruber, Donald Robinson, Diana Byas, Oscar Avila;
2nd row: Isis Chatman, Alice Washington, Jenifer Schweitzer, Ranada Harris, Daesha Harris, Adrienne Murray-Rainey, Jesús Martinez.

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:

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:

My commitment is not only to my members, but also to this program. I will try to get as many people as I can in.”

More information about UCEP and the Community Power to Prosper program can be found at