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Follow the progress of the elevator grant recipients from the 6th Annual NACCE conference in Anaheim. Use the experience of the last grant recipients to plan a successful grant opportunity for your program or initiative. Elevator grant information for the 7th Annual Conference in Chicago can be found here -


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May update

Posted By Columbia College _, Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On May 22, the second interview in the lecture series was held with Julia Rhodes and Char Wrightington. Inventions and patents both nationally and internationally. Both of these ladies are great with the audience. The turn out was great considering that Columbia College was completed for the Spring semester, it was Memorial Day weekend and the Strawberry festival (an annual weekend Jazz concert) was happening in town. We had about 50 people in attendance and the reviews were great. Everyone is excited about the DVDs and we have handed out about 85 of them from the first lecture from restaurant owners.

The next interview will not be until September. I will have an update for what is planned in my next post. The lecture series has not only helped with outreach in the community but it has built enrollment in my new entrepreneurship program here at Columbia College.


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April update

Posted By Columbia College _, Friday, May 1, 2009

April has been a very busy month, hence doing my April update on May 1st. On April 17th we had our first Enlightening Lessons from restaurateurs. The evening went better than I could have anticipated. We had over 50 people in the audience from the community not counting students from both Columbia College and the local high schools. We had great feedback and I have been invited to talk to several local business organizations about future events.

May's event will showcase local inventors of internationally-recognized products as the featured speakers at the next Columbia College Entrepreneur Program presentation. Julia Rhodes, president of KleenSlate Concepts and Charlene Wrighton, president and CEO of Zoo-phonics will provide tips on creating new products and marketing them, based on their own professional business experiences.

            The presentation is part of a free public lecture series for aspiring entrepreneurs and will be held in the Columbia College Dogwood Forum Theater on Friday, May 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. The series is titled, “Inside the Entrepreneur: Enlightening Lessons” and each lecture presentation will highlight two entrepreneurs in a related business field.

Former schoolteacher Julia Rhodes invented, patented, manufactured, marketed and distributed her first product, the KleenSlate Attachable Eraser for Dry-Erase Markers. Then, she single-handedly landed contracts with Office Depot and Staples to mass market them. Over the past seven years, Rhodes has built a thriving business with a growing line of dry-erase products and services.

Her KleenSlate Dry-Erase Paddles were awarded “Best New Products for the Classroom” by Scholastic magazine, and earned the “Teachers’ Choice Award 2008” from Learning Magazine. She has been featured on radio and television, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Entrepreneur Hour Radio Show. She is also working on her first book, The Right Sisters: Modern Day Women Inventors, which she hopes will inspire, educate and inform inventors to pursue their passions and believe in their ideas.

Charlene Wrighton’s 37 year career in education has really been three careers in one. She taught special needs students locally for over 20 years. Then in 1984, Wrighton and her sister Gigi co-created the Zoo-phonics Language Arts Program, founded on kinesthetic techniques and phonics to teach reading, spelling, math, art and social studies to students. 

In 1993, she retired from teaching to develop and promote Zoo-phonics, which has expanded across the country and is now marketed worldwide. With the opening of Sonora’s Safari Learning Preschool & Kindergarten Academy in 2007, Wrighton’s dream of establishing a preschool/toddler learning center with Zoo-phonics as the core curriculum was fulfilled.

Wrighton holds five teaching credentials and three degrees, including a master’s degree, administrative credential, child development program director’s certificate and is presently in the writing stage of her doctorate. She was a California Mentor Teacher for two years for the Tuolumne County Special Education Department; awarded Woman of the Year for her work with the disabled, elderly and homeless; and Teacher of the Year for the Tuolumne County Special Education Department.      



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Posted By Columbia College _, Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our advertising is out for the first event for the INSIDE THE ENTREPRENEUR: ENLIGHTENING LESSONS. We have changed the date to April 17 instead of April 20 due to venue availability and day of week. We thought a Friday night would have better turnout than a Monday night.

The founders of highly successful local restaurants will be featured in the first presentation scheduled for Friday, April 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Dogwood Forum theater on the college campus. River Klass is the owner of a pair of well-known food establishments in Murphys: Grounds and Firewood. Eric Davis owns the Diamondback Grill, a popular Sonora destination for dining.

River Klass earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Villanova University in 1986 and then traveled to Europe to study at the Sorbonne. While there, he also worked in Parisian restaurants where he acquired experience in culinary techniques, along with a taste for fine regional wines. Upon his return to the U.S., he discovered an interest in design and building, and started a company in Hollywood that built commercial and music video sets.

In 1992, Klass moved to Murphys where he opened Grounds, a combination coffee, pastry and sandwich shop. Within a year, the eatery quickly evolved into a local favorite serving complete breakfasts, lunches and dinners. When space next door became available, he also opened Firewood with its menu of fast, fresh meals for families. In 2005, Klass started RiverK restaurant in Roseville, which he later sold but still entertains the idea of reopening in other locations.   

            Eric Davis, a 1982 graduate of Cal Poly, Pomona with a degree in restaurant hospitality management, put his education immediately to good use through jobs at First Street Bar & Grill, Epicurious and the Rapport Restaurant, all located in Claremont.

                In 1991, he purchased a tiny 25-seat diner in downtown Sonora, then called the Lasso Coffee Shop. The location had been a diner for over 90 years and Davis retained its Americana decor, complete with chrome and red vinyl stools, but renamed it the Diamondback Grill. His menu of half-pound burgers, marinated chicken salads and goat cheese-stuffed chilies kept lines forming outside the door.

            Before long, the Diamondback received recognition from Restaurant Hospitality, The San Francisco Chronicle, VIA and Fodor’s Travel Guide for its “quality meals with bold, direct flavors.”

            In 2007, Davis moved across the street into larger quarters with vaulted ceilings, exposed rock and plaster walls, and a separate wine bar. Today’s customers still line up outside his restaurant while waiting for seating. 

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Posted By Columbia College _, Thursday, February 26, 2009

Columbia College has accomplished a lot in February. We have set the first two lectures in the series for INSIDE THE ENTREPRENEUR: ENLIGHTENING LESSONS.  Entrepreneurs from Calaveras and Tuolumne counties will be invited to Columbia College to share their experiences with live audiences to encourage the growth of entrepreneurial education and inspire start-up business ventures.  The dates for the lecture series this spring are April 20, 2009 (Monday) and May 18, 2009 (Monday).  The series will break during the summer months and resume in September 2009.

Columbia has gotten the CEO club off the ground and is the largest club on campus at this time with 16 members. Craig Johnston will be the facilitator for the lecture series. We have developed and met with an advisory committee consisting of members from both education and local businesses, in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. It has been decided by the committee that each lecture will have a theme. Such as, restaurants, patents and inventions, hospitality, specialty services, green businesses, retail, entertainment and franchises. Members of the advisory committee are in the process of recommending local entrepreneurs for each of the themes.

We have developed the marketing plan for the lecture series and through the chamber of commerce for both counties we are receiving quite a bit of matched dollars and in kind publicity, on the local radio stations, school newspapers, local newspaper, chamber newsletters, and local public service television channels. This is very exciting in that we are receiving much more publicity than we would have ever been able to afford without this amazing amount of community support.


Tags:  Columbia College  Feburary Update 

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"Inside the Entrepreneur–Enlightening Lessons"

Posted By Ida Ponder, Thursday, January 29, 2009
Colleges receiving grants from the Coleman Foundation were: Columbia College, CA - $7,500 to support an entrepreneur interview series called "Inside the Entrepreneur–Enlightening Lessons," a project to capture stories of local entrepreneurs and create DVDs for instructional purposes for the classroom and community outreach.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  Columbia College 

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