The KeyBank Foundation has presented a $75,000 grant to support a University of Connecticut program that helps U.S. military veterans become small business owners.
Today, KeyBank and The UConn School of Business announced a grant of $75,000 from KeyBank Foundation to University of Connecticut Foundation to support the business school’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV). Founded in 2007 at Syracuse University, EBV is offered through a consortium of business schools and universities and provides experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to help veterans, including disabled veterans and their spouses/caregivers, launch and manage their own businesses. Offered at no cost to participants, UConn’s EBV combines online coursework, an intense 10-day on-campus experience, and 12 months of ongoing support and mentorship to veterans for creating and sustaining entrepreneurial ventures.
KeyBank’s Connecticut market president and U.S. Navy veteran James R. Barger presented the donation earlier today to EBV program director and U.S. Marine veteran Michael Zacchea at a meeting with EBV program graduates and board members present.
“As a recognized Military Friendly® companyand also a top SBA 7(a) lender across the country, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program aligns closely with what KeyBank stands for as a financial institution,” said Barger. “We are impressed with the caliber of UConn’s program and the results they’ve achieved, and we are proud to support it.”
In the past ten years, UConn’s EBV program has graduated more than 200 veterans and caregivers who have launched 175 businesses, producing more than $150 million in gross revenues and creating 430 jobs. In addition, 34 graduates have found career-track, full-time employment, and 21 have accessed career-track educational opportunities. The 2019 class includes 19 veterans and one caregiver, 14 of which are from Connecticut. Several of the class members were wounded in combat.
Members of the 2019 graduating class include U.S. Navy veteran Jorge Rodriguez, and his wife and caregiver, Jessica Rodriguez, who have used what they learned in the program to launch Bees with Purpose in Griswold, Conn. Jorge’s military career was cut short after being injured during his deployment to Iraq. He found a new sense of purpose and a new career path in beekeeping.
“The EBV has given Jorge and me the opportunity to pursue our dream of starting a business. After Jorge was wounded in Iraq, his brain injury compromised his ability to speak and walk, and we as a couple both had to adjust greatly. He couldn’t work, and I left my job to become his full-time caregiver,’’ Jessica said.
“As he recovered, Jorge developed a passion for beekeeping and we found that this hobby gave him a new way to connect with others, learn mindfulness, and develop a new sense of purpose taking care of bees,’’ she said. The EBV program allows injured veterans and their caregivers to thrive in a setting designed just for them, she added.
“We were given the chance to work side by side with each other, not just as veteran and caregiver, husband and wife, but as visionaries and budding entrepreneurs and business partners,” she said.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the program continues to grow and change to meet the challenges of incoming classes.
“We are now entering a new phase for veterans reintegration,” Zacchea said. “The class next year will be 20 years from the tragic attacks of 9-11. We expect we will begin seeing older veterans who are transitioning out of careers that began as a result of 9-11, many with significant, life-long health issues looming before them. They are veterans of multiple combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, and other places.’’
“Our mission in the next 10 years will be to help transition those retiring from the long-term military posts into civilian careers than can sustain them and their families going forward,” he said.
The EBV is currently recruiting candidates for its 2020 program, and classes will begin July 6, 2020. For more information about The UConn School of Business Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, visit https://ebv.business.uconn.edu/.
KeyCorp's roots trace back 190 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $146.7 billion at September 30, 2019. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of over 1,100 branches and more than 1,400 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit https://www.key.com/. KeyBank is Member FDIC.
About the UConn School of Business:
Founded in 1941, the UConn School of Business has evolved into one of the most comprehensive business schools in the nation, offering academic programs at the bachelors, masters, doctorate and advanced certificate levels, in four Connecticut locations – Storrs, Hartford, Stamford and Waterbury. The School of Business has established a strong reputation for high quality research, teaching, collaboration and outreach, spanning a wide array of functional disciplines including Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, and Operations and Information Management.
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