"FBLE benefits the community through the development of our next generation of business leaders who will be starting and running companies that drive our economy and create jobs."
-Delmonize Smith, Saunders College
Forty students from the Rochester City School District will start an unconventional summer school program as Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology hosts a program designed to teach students how to be professionals with real businesses in the community.
Now under the helm of Saunders' new Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, the Future Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (FBLE) program will be held from June 8 though Aug. 17 on the RIT campus.
FBLE is a 10-week Saturday session program where students and faculty from the Saunders College meet with minority junior and senior high school students from East High, Edison, Benjamin Franklin, School of the Arts, Wilson Commencement and others to help solve pressing business challenges of several Rochester-based minority companies.
Delmonize Smith, professor in management and director of Saunders' Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, started FBLE in 2009. He envisioned building a triage "pipeline" experience to help local youth develop their business, problem-solving and leadership skills through real-world learning. And Smith gives up "all his Saturdays" in the summer to personally work with the students to ensure the program is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
"In the very beginning, I knew there was a need, and I had this vision, and we've been able to expand the number of students and the number of schools and districts taking part," says Smith. "I've seen some tremendous success stories and we now have students coming to RIT who have been a part of the program-several are continuing their education in the Saunders College."
The program consists of a sequence of business workshops and face-to-face working sessions and culminates in a formal presentation to representatives of the company during which students offer cost-effective, practical solutions the company can implement.
Denise Lynn Bell, director of FBLE, says the student "apprentices" are motivated and have a 93-percent attendance rate. "They are learning that business is everything and everything is business and that no matter what career they choose they need these professional skills. We are also giving them an opportunity to explore higher education and the campus experience. We want them to come back."
For more information about the Future Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs program, contact Bell at 585-475-6994 or go to http://saunders.rit.edu/fble/.