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CTNext Grant Enables Goodwin College to Design Entrepreneurship Opportunities

CTNext Grant Enables Goodwin College to Design Entrepreneurship Opportunities
Collegiate certificate program guides reentry population to successful business goals

East Hartford, CT — Connecticut Innovations, a leading source of financial and ongoing support for innovative, growing companies, has awarded Goodwin College a $200,000 CT Next Higher Education Entrepreneurship and Innovation grant to support ENet Entrepreneurial Network, an entrepreneurship program the formerly incarcerated, reentry population.

Goodwin will partner with the Connecticut Reentry Collaborative, Formally In, LLC, the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University, and the Peace Center of Connecticut to ensure that the expertise and mentorship program participants require to succeed will be in place.

Matt Connell, Program Director and Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Goodwin College, will act as Project Director, providing oversight for all aspects of the ENet program including leadership for business mentoring and coaching students in the development and implementation of their business plans.

The ENet program focuses on the pursuit of an Entrepreneurial Certificate from Goodwin by those formerly incarcerated. The reentry population faces numerous challenges including gaps in education and a history of underemployment. These issues are complicated by the difficulty in finding a job once someone holds a criminal record,” explain Connell. “Entrepreneurial training is a powerful way to tap into innate skill sets, empower individuals to move from dependency to independence, promote community development, and eventually boost local economies.”

The ENet program will connect students to a network of resources that help them make the transition to financial independence. ENet represents a powerful collaboration among the sectors of corrections, higher education, social services, and community supports.

The coursework is experiential and incorporates assignments that help students apply course content to real life situations. The program comprises four components: Recruitment and Mentoring Support, the Educational Program (successful completion of 18 credits resulting in a collegiate certificate, which can be transferred into an associate or bachelor’s program at Goodwin, or, as allowable, to other colleges), Individualized, Personal Supports, and a Business Mentoring Network.

There is no cost to students for the program. Tuition is covered by a combination of the grant funds and a cash match from Goodwin College. Services include tutoring, career services, health services, library and research assistance, student engagement programs, a childcare center, and veterans’ services.

The long-term goal is to create a statewide community of support to foster small businesses that will reinvest in individuals and in the community. “This is difficult work and no one partner can accomplish it alone,” Connell summarizes. “We have a powerful collaboration that brings together private and public higher education with state and community-based organizations on issues surrounding reentry.”

To learn more about the ENet program at Goodwin College, please contact Matt Connell at or 860-913-2171.