South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program

South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program

Empowering community members to create and grow successful businesses


The South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program seeks to help members of the South Bend community, particularly those facing economic or other hardships, in starting and growing a business. 

The Keough School’s McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business manages the program in close partnership with local nonprofit groups, government offices, small businesses, and other university partners across South Bend. 

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We seek to:

  • Foster the creation of new, profitable ventures by those facing economic or other disadvantages
  • Assist existing small businesses owned by those with disadvantages in becoming sustainable and growing
  • Work with community members on the development of both the person as an entrepreneur and the business as a successful venture
  • Identify and share best practices in poverty alleviation through entrepreneurship
  • Measure and track the development and performance of entrepreneurs and their ventures based on program participation
  • Celebrate entrepreneurial achievements of those facing/overcoming adversity

An Integrated Approach to Community Empowerment

The South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program is an integrated, multi-faceted program that involves six core elements:

  • Training Programs: Community members participate in a six-week bootcamp, held on Saturday mornings, that introduces basic tools, concepts, and principles relevant to launching and growing a successful venture. The bootcamp is designed for people with little to no resources or background.
  • One-on-One Consulting: Following the training, a consulting initiative pairs faculty, graduate students, and other partners with the entrepreneurs to work one-on-one solving particular problems.
  • Mentoring: Participants can receive mentorship from a successful entrepreneur who, where possible, has experiences related to the type of business the entrepreneur is working on. In addition, an ‘expertise pool’ of mentors is available with advice on specific problem areas.
  • Resource Connect: Entrepreneurs are connected to valuable resources in the community through community forums, an internet platform, and other communication vehicles.
  • Microcredit: Local organizations and financial institutions create a micro-credit fund that provides low-interest and no-interest loans and grants to individuals as they attempt to launch ventures.
  • Research and Tracking: The program conducts research documenting the challenges facing entrepreneurs, tracking their progress and identifying elements that are successful in helping them to move forward.

How to Get Involved:

Community Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs

Community members can get involved through the South Bend Community Bootcamp—an intense, hands-on exposure to the fundamentals of launching and growing a successful venture, taught by seasoned faculty, subject matter experts, and successful entrepreneurs. The bootcamp occurs on six consecutive Saturday mornings in the spring. 

Topics covered in the Community Bootcamp address all facets of a successful venture, ranging from the development of a viable business concept to understanding your market, designing your profit model, setting up operations properly, marketing your venture, and understanding the basic numbers. Our underlying focus is how to think and act in entrepreneurial ways—including how to do more with less—and how to grow a venture when you have little in the way of resources. The approach will be interactive, so participants will be encouraged to bring business ideas and challenges into the weekly discussions.

Who is eligible to participate?

Anyone in the community who suffers from adverse economic, physical, or related circumstances is eligible to participate in the program. We focus on supporting community members living in poverty who have a dream of starting and growing a venture, including those who have already started a venture but are struggling.

What is the cost?

The price of the Community Bootcamp is $500. However, scholarships of $475 are available for anyone with financial need. All applicants are considered for scholarship.

How do I apply?

Please note: We are not accepting applications at this time.

Request information


Contact the program director, Michael Morris



Six consecutive Saturday mornings, 8:30 a.m.-noon*

*Most Saturdays will also include an extra session from 12:00-1:00p.m. that digs deeper into a particular topic with local experts (lawyers, bankers, social media professionals, experts in government contracts).



Week One: Feb 15, 2020

Week Two: Feb 22, 2020

Week Three: Feb 29, 2020

Week Four: Mar 7, 2020

Week Five: Mar 14, 2020

Week Six (Final Session Graduation): Mar 21, 2020



Center for Civic Innovation

1045 W. Washington St., South Bend, IN 46601

(across from the Civil Rights Heritage Center)

Program Partners

Casa de Amistad
Center for Civic Innovation, University of Notre Dame
Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame
City of South Bend
Community Development Clinic, University of Notre Dame
IDEA Center, University of Notre Dame
Invanti Ventures
North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center
Notre Dame Federal Credit Union
Project Impact
Spark Business Accelerator, Saint Mary’s College
West Side Small Business Resource Center