Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership awarded $3 million

Photo of the Winterim 2022 students posing
Courtesy of Lewis & Clark

The endowment for the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership for the Bates Entrepreneurship and Leadership was recently increased from $2 to 5 million thanks to twin donations from Lewis & Clark- via a profitable investment- and The Randall Charitable Trust (TRCT). The donations were $1.5 million each.

Four and a half percent of the endowment will be released each year, and the added balance will pay for a tenured professor. In previous years, the entrepreneurship department had a visiting professor.

Contact between TRCT and the Bates Center began a few years ago and just recently yielded the donation. Director of the Bates Center and Adjunct Professor Chrys Hutchings said the culminating moment may have been at a Bates Center advisory meeting.

“Marsha Randall came to our advisory meeting, and everyone on the advisory board spoke about why they support the Bates Center,” Hutchings said. “I think that made a big difference to her.”

LC’s donation came after a startup they had invested in was sold. The company was the project of two alumni which specialized in electric vehicle charging.

Gifts like these allow the Bates Center to function. The department is funded completely by donations. The added $3 million will free up the endowment’s original $2 million to pay for some adjunct professors and programming with the $90,000 it yields annually. The remainder of the expenses — a second professor, the rest of staffing for their 21 classes and programming — are paid for by donations throughout the year.

One of those expenses, Winterim, is a unique LC experience. The program itself is a week-long course offered during the final stretch of winter break that helps students make pitches for new product ideas under the mentorship of various volunteer professionals and the Bates Center Staff.

Natalie Elstone ’24 participated in Winterim this past break and really enjoyed her experience.

“I would totally recommend it,” Elstone said. “I didn’t think I was gonna be an entrepreneur, you don’t have to think you’re gonna be an entrepreneur to do it. I think it’s like a really beneficial experience for any student at LC, any student at all in college; It just teaches you a lot about future career paths.”

Hutchings also mentioned how appreciative Winterim alumni are.

“They (alumni) will even send us emails years later to thank us for it,” Hutchings said. “It’s amazing, the result on Friday afternoons.”

Despite not foreseeing a career in entrepreneurship, Elstone said Winterim gave her a lot of useful professional advice and experience that will be useful in other fields as well.

“I had to work in a group with like two people that I didn’t know before, and we had to work together really fast to come together and agree on what our product was gonna be and like what kind of target market we were gonna go for, like all these logistics,” Elstone said. “And also, I think just different problems solving skills.”

Elstone’s group pitched a multiple-use mold detector and won first prize.

“Natalie’s group won cash, $3,500 cash, that they can spend on beer and cigarettes,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings offered more serious support of the program as well, though.

“Winterim fosters courage,” the Bates Center Director said.

This environment is created with minimal cost, making it all the more impressive.

“Everyone volunteers their time, but our expenses are high because of food and housing mostly,” Hutchings said.

This past Winterim was free for all participants, thanks to a donation. It has always been a priority for the Bates Center to make the program affordable for students.

“In the past, we have made it free for every student who requested it,” Hutchings said. “We never said no.”

Winterim is not the only special programming the department offers either, one example being Lunch With a Leader (LWAL). In the next two months, four speakers will come to discuss their trades at different lunches. This past Wednesday, Brand Director at Adopt Lynn Lee also spoke at a LWAL. Executive Editor for Arts & Culture at Oregon Public Broadcasting Marcos Nájera, Founder/ President at Berg & Associates, President at Global Television Entertainment One Michael Lombardo and CEO/Founder at UNLESS Collective Eric Liedtke will speak at lunches put together by the Bates Center. All meals will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in J.R. Howard 302, and are on Feb. 21, Mar. 2, Mar. 15 and Apr. 4, respectively.

The Bates Center is constantly reaching out to entrepreneurs and business people in the community to enrich their courses and prepare students for the change from collegiate to professional life. The center want to provide as many opportunities as possible for LC students’ futures.

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