ECMC Launch

DePodesta Fellowships Announced

Friday, February 14, 2020

ECMC CEO Jeremy Wheaton announced a new fellowship program in honor of retiring ECMC Chair John DePodesta to inspire graduate students to drive innovation in post-secondary education.

MINNEAPOLIS—Minneapolis-based ECMC Group has partnered with the University of Minnesota to launch a leadership fellowship program that will enable graduate students to address fundamental challenges facing postsecondary education.

"As an organization focused on driving innovation in postsecondary education, we are excited to develop the next generation of leaders while supporting their advancements to the space for years to come," said Jeremy Wheaton, president and CEO of ECMC Group. "Our depth of knowledge—specifically in student loan debt and first-generation access and persistence—offers fellows a unique, 'living laboratory' to tackle the issues facing our society today."

The John DePodesta Education Innovation Fellowship Program is designed for graduate students in business, public policy, sociology or education, who will have the ability to test or develop plans to launch a new venture or co-design new programs in partnership with existing educational organizations that seek to improve the quality of postsecondary education. The Fellowship was developed in recognition of John DePodesta, a founding board member and immediate past chair of ECMC Group, who has spent the past 25 years working to help students succeed.

"Education is a transformative tool that can generate positive change while significantly impacting the lives of future generations," said DePodesta. "I am honored by this Fellowship and look forward to being inspired by the solutions it uncovers."

Initial feasibility grants of $15,000 will be 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.

"This Fellowship aligns perfectly with the school's vision of business serving as a force for good while supporting student efforts to address important societal problems," said John Stavig, director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. "We hope this program attracts and develops entrepreneurial leaders who will identify meaningful improvements in postsecondary education."

In February, the school announced the first two DePodesta Fellows:

Jessica Thompson

Proposed Social Venture: First-Generation Success

Jessica is a second-year Ph.D. student currently working on her doctoral degree analyzing the outcome of first-generation students and the intersection of programs designed to support their educational success.  She also currently teaches, advises, and develops programming for historically marginalized students at the University of Minnesota.  Jessica is currently enrolled in the Carlson School’s Customer Discovery & Testing course to explore the student experience before, during, and after their education at the University of Minnesota.  She will take this summer to work closely with ECMC leadership and other University and business mentors to assess the potential for the development of programs, policies, and processes on a regional or national basis.

Leah Battin

Proposed Social Venture: Diversifying and Strengthening the MBA Pipeline

Leah Battin is a former high school math teacher and first-year MBA student at the Carlson School.  She is a Student Representative to the Board of Regents and is passionate about improving the diversity of students in business education.  Leah is currently enrolled in the Carlson School’s Customer Discovery & Testing course to explore the logistical, social, and financial demands of creating a pipeline for underrepresented students and alumni of community colleges into graduate business programs.  She will spend her summer working closely with the Carlson School’s Camp Emerge program, ECMC staff, and business mentors to assess the potential for the development of this program on a regional or national basis.

About Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship—University of Minnesota
The Holmes Center is the hub of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Minnesota that inspires, educates, and connects the next generation of Minnesota's entrepreneurs. We mobilize the community and provide support for emerging entrepreneurs, both within and outside the University, through experiential courses and engaging outreach programs.