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NACCE-Sam’s Club Shared Vision for Small Business Competition


In 2012, NACCE and Sam’s Club teamed up to assist community colleges in their critical role of educating future entrepreneurs in the classroom and supporting small business owners in the community. For the last decade, NACCE> has been dedicated to defining and delivering essential resources and programming needed within community colleges to advance entrepreneurship and economic vitality. We’ve evolved from a small group of enthusiastic faculty and administrators to the leader in promoting innovative ideas in community college entrepreneurship.

While NACCE’s efforts have focused on the community colleges and their education of entrepreneurs, Sam’s Club has focused on the needs of existing business owners. As a company founded by an entrepreneur (Sam Walton), Sam’s Club and Walmart want small businesses to be successful, to enhance existing services in order to help small business thrive and grow, and to be known as a place that adds value to your business and your life.

Together, our two organizations represent two essential components of a successful small business owner: a solid educational foundation with continued business support. NACCE believes that this combination of education and continued support is critical to the long-term success of small businesses.

Additionally, we have seen that:

  1. Individuals are hesitant to start their own business, and
  2. Established small business owners are lacking clarity on what resources are needed for operational survival.

It is NACCE’s belief that there is a lack of awareness on how to access affordable business training and support that has led to these two problems. During these economically fragile times, ongoing education and support systems for potential and existing entrepreneurs are essential to the survival of small businesses. Considering that community colleges are accessible, entrepreneurial in nature, and nimble enough to change with industry trends, they are a fertile ground for continuing education for small business owners.

For this reason, Sam’s Club has generously provided $40,000 to fund the NACCE-Sam’s Club Shared Vision for Small Business Competition, in which funds will be awarded to community colleges demonstrating excellence in supporting small businesses, especially for recent graduates, low-income, minority, women, and/or veteran populations. Your market for this project is existing small business owners with revenue up to one million dollars.

Defining and Recognizing Excellence in Supporting Small Businesses

For the purposes of the Shared Vision for Small Business Competition, "excellence in supporting small businesses” will be defined through three criteria:

  1. Evidence of essential attributes and practices as defined in NACCE resources.
  2. Participation in the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum
  3. Evidence of success in providing education and support to targeted populations, including recent graduates, low-income, minority, women, and/or veteran populations

Essential Attributes and Practices

NACCE’s first guide in its Essential Practices Series, Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed: The Role of Community Colleges, detailed the essential skills required by entrepreneurs, essential attributes required in community college culture, and essential practices of community colleges dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship. These three categories – skill-building, attributes, and practices – will be criteria by which the panel of experts will use to determine "the best of the best”: those colleges who are using best practices to educate, engage, and support local entrepreneurs. The following table details the essential attributes and practices:


Colleges are providing training that is based on content that focuses on the fundamentals of the entrepreneurial process, including:

  • Financial planning
  • Marketing
  • Recognizing opportunity
  • Practical knowledge needed to launch a business
  • Creating business plans
  • Strategic problem solving
  • Determining feasibility of business idea

Essential Attributes That Should Be Reflected In The Capacity Of Culture Of The Community College

The following attributes of community colleges are essential in supporting entrepreneurship:

  • Relevant programs and services
  • Real world experience
  • Collaborative, committed, involved, and visible
  • Serve new and current entrepreneurs at all stages
  • Innovative and visionary
  • Accessible through multiple formats and options
  • Open-minded and flexible

Practices Needed To Support Entrepreneurs And Intrapreneurs

These practices are evident in serving new or current business owners:

  • Teaching real-world skills that entrepreneurs need to implement their ideas and launch a business
  • Targeted workshops and seminars
  • Courses and workshops offered online and in hybrid formats

These practices are evident in supporting intrapreneurs:

  • Courses and workshops offered online and in hybrid formats
  • State-of-the-art information
  • Targeted workshops and seminars

Commitment to the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum

In addition to the above elements, awardees must show how they have begun the work of successfully implementing the five commitments of NACCE’s Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum. NACCE’s Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum commitments are a way to ensure a foundational understanding of what "entrepreneurship education” is all about. Following are the commitments:

  1. Developing Transparency of Community College and Community Assets
  2. Creating Internal and External Teams Dedicated To Entrepreneurship
  3. Increasing Entrepreneurs Engagement In Community Colleges
  4. Engaging In Industry Cluster Development
  5. Creating Buzz and Broad Exposure of Your Commitment to Entrepreneurship

The commitments provide a foundation of "readiness” which will allow for scaling existing entrepreneurial initiatives and gauging preparedness for launching new, high impact initiatives. It also allows for a conversation in the community amongst many stakeholders with an opportunity for the college to think of themselves beyond purely their educational value. In the future this will allow NACCE to focus efforts on identifying, commencing, and scaling projects with the confidence that the network of member colleges will be in a position to take on those projects.

Providing Underserved Populations with Access to Practical, Condensed Education

Applicants are expected to demonstrate specifically how they support recent graduates, low-income, minority, women, and/or veteran populations. Sam’s Club is particularly interested in providing funds for practical, condensed, accessible training for small business owners. As Sam’s Club continues to look for ways to help small business owner members with their needs in lending and funding, building educational partnerships with local community colleges will provide entrepreneurs with the tools to manage their finances and run a profitable business.

Are You the Best of the Best?

NACCE and Sam’s Club want to provide funds to colleges that are:>

  1. Demonstrating essential attributes and practices that support entrepreneurship
  2. Led by presidents who have committed to the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum
  3. Working with recent graduates, low-income, minority, women, and/or veteran populations.
  4. Willing to collect data documenting the impact of scaling up their current programs
  5. Willing to share information and dialogue with other award-winning colleges on NACCE’s Shared Vision for Small Business forum page on NACCE’s website

Desired Impact of the Shared Vision for Small Business Competition

While we know that investing in the "Best of the Best” programs provides greatest likelihood on return, there are several unknown factors that we are curious about, including:

  • Defining where the crossroad between investment and impact exists: how can short-term seed funding lead to long-term outcomes
  • How much programs will cost if replicated elsewhere with the goal of self-sustainability

Therefore, NACCE and Sam’s Club are interested in seeing how community colleges can take a small, short-term investment (such as the Shared Vision grant) and incorporate it into existing programs or initiatives to create greater impact in the long-term. This might be through adding sessions or modules to an existing program, or adding another support service. We anticipate that leveraging other resources is key to long-term success for the college and the small business owner, and that identification and communication of those other resources are essential to success.

Project sustainability is more likely when the following activities are included in proposals:

  1. Partnership-building with other like-minded organizations and businesses, and
  2. Colleges are able to identify funding sources available to small business owners enabling them to access their training programs


In addition to meeting the above criteria, applicants must be current organizational members of NACCE whose leadership has signed onto the five commitments of the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum by November 16th.


The total funding for this competition, generously provided by Sam’s Club, is $40,000. Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program support community-based programs that empower young people, families and small businesses to make smart choices that lead to healthy and bright futures. In 2011, Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program made cash and in-kind contributions of more than $101 million, which included donating more than 38 million meals. Visit for more information.

Applicants who show they have the elements in place to do an outstanding job in supporting small businesses will be eligible for grants designed to allow them to incorporate this Shared Vision investment into their successful entrepreneurship projects. Funds may be used for staffing, materials, supplies, events, technology, equipment, or other direct costs that support long-term self-sustainability of entrepreneurship projects or initiatives. Funds may not be used for indirect costs. The maximum amount of requested funds must not exceed $10,000.

Grant Period

All proposed enhancements to existing programs or initiatives must occur between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013. In addition to providing ongoing information to the Shared Vision for Small Business Forum on the NACCE website, awardees must submit a final report by July 31, 2013.


All required information must be submitted as a single PDF attachment in an email to Megan Ballard, Chief Operating Officer, at by 4 p.m. EST on December 20, 2012.

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