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PPCC & Kaufman Grant Grow Entrepreneurialism

Colorado Springs, Colo. – May 7, 2015 – Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) received a $150,000 Kaufman Foundation Grant to spread and support entrepreneurship initiatives fostering economic growth in the Colorado Springs community.

The Kansas City-based foundation, which funds education and entrepreneurship, began working with PPCC last fall when it helped introduce the Ice House Entrepreneurship program into its curriculum. This grant will further the reach of that curriculum into local businesses and organizations.

Already supporting several entrepreneurship initiatives in the region, including the Center for Entrepreneurship and 1 Million Cups, PPCC will partner with organizations for a community-wide roll out of programs for entrepreneurs. Leading this effort are two Kauffman grant funded PPCC staff, Steve Imke and Sheridan Kalletta. 

Imke, Entrepreneurship Initiative Director, is responsible for providing support to community partners to launch events that promote entrepreneurship and for strengthening the ties between local organizations that support entrepreneurs. 

Imke, a seasoned entrepreneur, has started and sold two firms and currently operates three small businesses. Since 2004 he has counseled business owners in all aspects of business start-up and operations as an instructor, mentor and chairman of Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and as a counselor, advisory board member and interim director for Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Imke is a retired member of the U.S. Coast Guard and has authored several books and articles on a variety of topics.

 “I am passionate about improving the way entrepreneurs connect to resources and one another. Similarly, I am committed to improving the quality of the information and advice both students and entrepreneurs receive in our community,” Imke said.

Kalletta, Entrepreneurship Initiative Coordinator, provides support for entrepreneurial programs, activities and events sponsored by PPCC, including developing and coordinating resources the community can use to pursue entrepreneurship. 

Kalletta most recently served as the lead tutor in the PPCC Writing Center where she helped students view writing assignments as opportunities to organize, plan, execute and edit their ideas. She also developed and implemented content and operations improvements to the Center. Prior to PPCC, Kalletta created and managed a customer service department for a proprietary software startup company. During that time she developed a 24/7 help desk, support and training materials, and on-going product testing procedures. She has experience in entrepreneurial start-ups, customer service and developing trainings.

“I am excited to add to the conversation in our community about the importance of thinking as an entrepreneur – making choices, seeing opportunities, and taking action – whether personally or professionally,” Kalletta said. 

The Icehouse Entrepreneurship

The Ice House Entrepreneurship program is designed to inspire and engage entrepreneurial thinking in classrooms and communities around the world. PPCC adopted it into its curriculum to increase student retention and graduation rates by helping students develop an understanding of their personal strengths and resources around them to take charge of their success academically and in life.

PPCC was the first community college in the nation to adopt this curriculum because The Kaufman Foundation wanted to see the impact of it on a broad, diverse range of college students. Now, more than 500 interdisciplinary PPCC students have completed the program, which launched last August.

The Kaufman Foundation

Established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is among the largest private foundations in the United States with an asset base of nearly $2 billion. Their vision is to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens in their communities through education and entrepreneurship.

About PPCC

Pikes Peak Community College is in its 47th year of operation and has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1975. It is a two-year college offering 158 associate degrees and various certifications in career and technical fields. With four campuses and two military education centers in El Paso County, PPCC serves approximately 21,000 students annually.