TX Governor Greg Abbott Awards Program Governor’s Higher Education Community Impact Award
The Stimulating Urban Renewal Through Entrepreneurship (SURE™) Program at the University of Houston received the Governor’s Higher Education Community Impact Award during a reception held at the Governor’s Mansion in October.
The SURE™ Program creates a three-way partnership between students, business thought leaders and current or aspiring entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities in the Houston area.
The program gives University of Houston students, including Bauer MBAs, the opportunity to hone soft skills by managing projects, developing client relationships, and learning to manage and motivate others. The students provide business consulting to entrepreneurs in the program, sharing what they’ve learned in the classroom, and participate in a weekly symposium class, learning from and networking with subject matter experts.
Executive Director Saleha Khumawala, the Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting, envisioned the program as a unique opportunity for students to gain marketplace skills while simultaneously stimulating economic growth in underserved communities. SURE™ partners with large corporations and individuals and has been instrumental in the education of more than 500 local entrepreneurs and the creation of nearly 100 local businesses.
“The entrepreneurs, many from under-resourced communities and mostly women, get a free University-level applied business education and hands-on help,” Khumawala said. “The UH students who work in the program get professional, hands-on real world experience that is now a critical requirement of even entry-level jobs. And the business leaders get a chance to give back in a way commensurate with the value of their time. ”
These students are a key component in assisting SURE™ entrepreneurs, who to date have opened 61 businesses. An eco-system of business and government supporters and other key strategic alliances in the community have also helped establish SURE™ as a model for the creation and support of small businesses in underserved areas.
In conjunction with the OneStar Foundation, individuals from across the state were recognized for going above and beyond to enrich the lives of those in their communities through volunteerism and service.
“I truly believe that we are each called to service, and during times like these, it is our duty to answer that call — whether it’s helping with Hurricane Harvey rebuilding efforts, or helping with the continuing needs of your communities, like this year’s Governor’s Volunteer Award winners,” Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott said in a blog post. “Because nothing is more powerful than Texans helping Texans.”
The Community Impact Award is part of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards, and recognizes higher education programs that support and encourage civic engagement and volunteering as a core value.
By Amanda Sebesta