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Social Entrepreneurship Program

Arizona State University Poder Program Offered at Two Maricopa Community Colleges to Empower Underserved Students

Social entrepreneurship training expands to provide opportunities for low-income, underserved communities.

PHOENIX, Ariz.– September 1, 2016 – A June 2016 independent report released by Intel Corporation and Dalberg Global Development Advisors estimated that an additional $470 to $570 billion in new value for the U.S. technology industry could be generated through full representation of ethnic and gender diversity. Recently, organizations, non-profits, companies and universities are working towards new commitments and programs to support inclusive entrepreneurship in the U.S.

Arizona State University (ASU), supported by grant funding from the Cisco Corporate Advised Fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), and community college partners are providing an innovative, comprehensive learning experience to help local underserved students gain entrepreneurial and digitization skills through the ASU Poder program.

Poder (Spanish for “to be able to” and “power”), is a five-week social entrepreneurship training program that launched during the spring 2016 semester at South Mountain Community College (SMCC). The program allows underserved community college students to create solutions to pressing societal problems using digitization skills acquired through Cisco curriculum while receiving career and college preparation training to succeed educationally.

“Entrepreneurship can be transformative both personally and professionally,” said Ji Mi Choi, associate vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. “The ASU Poder program combines entrepreneurship training with digitization skills. This can be an enabling combination whether someone is seeking to start their own venture or simply gaining the skills to be better problem solvers and critical thinkers.”

Twenty-five students participated in the first cohort of ASU Poder. The program will continue to be offered on SMCC campus through the fall 2018 semester with plans to expand to another community college campus each semester. Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) will begin offering ASU Poder at their Union Hills campus this fall 2016 semester.

“ASU’s Poder program is quite empowering for our students. The program’s focus on social entrepreneurship and the Internet of Everything allow students to gain entrepreneurial and digitization skills that can be used to maximize their positive impact on the community and the world,” said Kishore Dash, who is leading the newly established Entrepreneurship Education Center at PVCC.

“True to its name, Poder is an empowering program for those in the idea or start-up phase of entrepreneurship,” said Kerry Taft, a spring 2016 Poder participant. “I am in the growth phase with my business and was still able to learn some new, creative ways of looking at entrepreneurship.”

ASU Poder students are eligible to compete in the Cisco Innovation Challenge where they can win up to $5,000 in seed funds to launch or grow their social entrepreneurship projects.

“Poder provides culturally-responsive social entrepreneurship training to better serve underserved community college students,” said Bruce McHenry, business faculty, and director of the Community Entrepreneurship Center at South Mountain Community College. “We are looking forward to continuing the collaboration with ASU and sharing best practices as the program rolls out to other Maricopa colleges starting this fall semester.”

Applications for the ASU Poder program are available at and accepted on SMCC and PVCC campuses through September 16, 2016. Questions and additional information can be sent to

About ASU

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good and assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

About Cisco

Cisco is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to

Cisco CSR gives people the skills they need to thrive in a connected world. We empower them to harness technology to solve global problems and speed the space of social change. Discover more at and follow us on Twitter @CiscoCSR

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at

About South Mountain Community College

South Mountain Community College offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training. The main campus is located on Baseline Rd. and 24th St. in Phoenix. There are two satellite locations, the Guadalupe Center, and Laveen site. South Mountain Community College is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. Learn more at

About Paradise Valley Community College

Founded in 1985, Paradise Valley Community College, one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, offers transferable academic courses as well as job-specific occupational training. The Union Hills campus is located just west of the SR51 Union Hills exit, at 18401 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032. PVCC at Black Mountain, serving the far north Valley, opened in August 2009. PVCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA). Learn more at: The Union Hills campus is the site of the recently-opened Entrepreneurship Education Center that offers short-term certificates in entrepreneurship, workshops, networking, and guest speakers from the business community. Learn more at