Hillside Hatchery Program Mentors Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs

Aug 14, 2014

About 20 Syracuse high school students got a taste this week of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur – including all the risks and rewards of owning their own business.  It’s the first-ever “Hillside Hatchery” training program under, the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.  Thursday, the students got a tour of the Syracuse Technology Garden, where many start-ups bloom and grow.  

students stand with their backs to the camera listening to an entrepreneur speak
Students tour the Syracuse Tech Garden and speak with successful entrepreneurs
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Isaiah Spann will be a senior at Corcoran High School.  He says the program has provided a solid foundation for him:  “It’s a good first step for people to learn about entrepreneurship at a young age, so they gave us this opportunity to speak to these entrepreneurs to learn what we can do with business.”

 Lisa Berardi is Director of Operations at Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection. She says, “Graduation is our goal. We’re not looking to just graduate students, but we’re looking to build them, and their skills and their abilities to have successful experiences after high school. For some of them, that means college, for some that might mean a trade school, for some of them they’re not looking to continue their education, they’re looking to start working right away. 

"We wanted to give them different options – some head to four-year schools, some head to 2-year. We know that our services right here in Syracuse have a lot to offer our students for running their own business, being exposed to finances, and what it takes to be well-balanced, to have a successful business. If we want them to explore opportunities, we have to give them the tools to be successful with it.” 

Berardi says those options could even include starting a small business in high school, or other options outside the typical part-time jobs at grocery stores or retail. Zanetta Bey and will be a senior at Corcoran High School with Isaiah this fall, and they’re already working to form some alternative business ideas:

students looking all different directions as they walk through a well-lit hallway
Students look around the "student sandbox" during a tour of the Tech Garden
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The program is a collaboration between Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management and the Southside Innovation Center.  SSIC director El-Java Abdul-Qadir is one of the coordinators, and says it took a day or two for the students to come out of their shells…  

  The Hillside Hatchery program is one part of an 8-week summer program at the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, which reaches about 1000 students. The program also helps with more tangible barriers in working towards graduation, like test taking, college entrance and applications, and seeking out financial aid when students graduate. The program wraps up Friday.