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Building on the Block: Innovators-in-Residence

The Charge: To develop an innovation institute to provide resources, structure, and encouragement to students and faculty as they investigate social and environmental challenges, understand the context in which they exist, identify sustainable solutions, and put them into action.

What’s Happening: CC’s innovation initiative, currently called Innovation@CC, is advancing opportunities and support for students with the addition of an Innovator in Residence Program. CC kicked off the program with Michael Hannigan ’75, founder and former CEO of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, and Aaron Kahlow, founder and former CEO of the Online Marketing Institute.

“It’s been really fun and exciting to see CC students who are interested in my part of the world that really focuses on social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and the nonprofit sector,” Hannigan said of his time working with students as an innovator-in-residence.

“We had no idea how to start a business coming into this and basically he broke it down for us, how nonprofits work, how we’ll need to maintain a program by having a source of revenue,” said Maddy Lee ’17 of working with Hannigan on her own endeavors.

Gleaning knowledge and skills from Hannigan and Kahlow throughout one-on-one meetings and broader programming like sessions on balancing mindfulness amidst chaos of a startup, or fostering social entrepreneurship help students translate their ideas into plans for real-world action. The opportunity to develop relationships with these innovators is also valuable to students. “It helps a lot on the business part; they have insights about business because they’re experts. But the relationship, not being like student and professor, or consultant and client, is really different. It’s from person to person,” said Pedro Gattas Bara Neto, an exchange student participating in the Innovator-in-Residence Program.

Additionally, Faces of Innovation highlights the work of innovative faculty, alumni, and students. The project showcases the innovative work of the CC community, inspiring others to collaborate with them and fostering innovation throughout generations of graduates. Currently it features 25 members of the CC community and their stories. The most recent additions are David Amster-Olszewski ’09, Marcia McNutt ’74, Professor Dan Johnson, Maria Barsallo ’07, and Eboni Statham ’17.

Forbes recently ranked CC the third “Most Entrepreneurial College in America,” highlighting the innovative programming as one of the key factors in the high ranking. Executive Director Patrick Bultema was thrilled by the recognition, both personally and professionally. He believes that innovation provides “a great foundation for the creativity and problem solving of the liberal arts to be translated into actionable learning, particularly with the increasing opportunities in the innovation economy.” “Crucially, we’re just getting started – but to have such recognition this early on in our endeavors is really great,” he said. U.S. News & World Report also ranked CC as the number one “Most Innovative College” in its most recent rankings.