RISE29 Student Entrepreneurship Program Announces Fall 2020 Interns

More than a dozen East Carolina University students have been selected for fall internships with the university’s award-winning student entrepreneurship program, RISE29.

RISE29, led by the university’s Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, connects small business ideas with regional community needs.

By using a mix of student teams, regional businesses and community leaders, the program aims to launch new enterprises, strengthen existing companies with long-term continuity plans, and commercialize new technology.

This fall’s group of student interns includes:

  • Sydnie Alligood, Bath, N.C., senior, Riverside Recreation
  • Sma Almomani, Greenville, N.C., sophomore, Alpha Life Enrichment Center
  • Erycka Anderson, Fayetteville, N.C., senior, Café Madeleine
  • Hannah Atkinson, Raleigh. C, junior, Riverside Recreation
  • Abby Baukema, High Point, N.C., junior, Simple & Sentimental
  • Tiffany Corey, Washington, N.C., graduate, Alpha Life Enrichment Center
  • Evelyn Gonzalez, Greenville, N.C., sophomore, Café Madeleine
  • Steven Hollingsworth, Murfreesboro, N.C., junior, Alpha Life Enrichment Center
  • Moses Nueman, Charlotte, N.C., junior, The Small Shop
  • Ben Rivers, Wadesboro, N.C., junior, Simple & Sentimental
  • O’Neal Robinson, Raleigh, N.C., senior, Riverside Recreation
  • Grant Smith, Wake Forest, N.C., sophomore, Café Madeleine
  • Alyssa Smith, Fuquay-Varina, N.C., sophomore, The Small Shop
  • Kaylee Warren, Mooresville, N.C., sophomore, The Small Shop

“There’s a critical need in eastern North Carolina to develop our homegrown talent through internships and community partnerships,” RISE29 Program Manager Derrick Welch said. “We’ve asked economic leaders in the state what their biggest needs are and the top answer almost every time includes workforce development. Our students are working directly with regional industries to add value to their businesses, creating an engaged, supportive network that becomes a community asset for our region.”

The fourteen interns will work across five businesses in eastern North Carolina, including:

  • Alpha Life Enrichment Center: The Alpha Life Enrichment Center is a nonprofit corporation operating in Beaufort, Bertie, Hyde, Martin, and Washington counties. Founded in December 2016, the African American owned and operated organization supports African American and Hispanic farmers with food production and distribution to food deserts and impoverished communities in eastern North Carolina.
  • Café Madeleine: An artisan bakery and wine shop, Café Madeleine offers pastries, breads, custom cakes, wine, lunch menu, and catering in rural eastern North Carolina.
  • Riverside Recreation: Riverside Recreation offers recreational rentals and access to the Tar River and its walking trails via Greenville’s Town Commons park. Located in the Dickinson Avenue corridor in Uptown Greenville, Riverside Recreation provides rentals of kayaks, pedal boats, standup paddle boards, and tandem bicycles reservations through their online marketplace.
  • Simple & Sentimental: Simple & Sentimental creates unique personalized gifts for any occasion. The company’s owner, Taylor Walden, was the winner of ECU’s inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, and has focused on strategic growth for her young company.
  • The Small Shop: The Small Shop is a locally owned, downtown retail business located in the heart of Williamston, N.C., specializing in showcasing work produced by of local artisans and small businesses.

Funded in part by a $1 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, RISE29 represents a partnership between ECU and the eastern region it calls home. The heart of RISE29 lies with student entrepreneurs responding to community-driven needs based on input from community leaders.

RISE29 leverages ECU and partner assets to support these ventures, including laboratories, greenhouses and collaborative spaces at ECU. Regional partners provide expertise alongside regional assets such as human capital, facilities, funding, and existing programming including community colleges, chambers of commerce, downtown development corporations, and small business centers.

The program was honored as one of the best in the nation in early 2020 by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). USASBE recognized the program for its creativity, quality, sustainability, impact on the communities RISE29 serves. In its first year, RISE29 earned top honors over a field that included the country’s No. 1 ranked entrepreneurship program by U.S. News & World Report.