American University announced a partnership Thursday with three of its schools (School of Communication, Kogod School of Business, School of International Service) and D.C.’s hottest incubator for up-and-coming startups, 1776, reaffirming the university’s commitment to providing students with the skills and resources necessary to find success in the entrepreneurship realm. We covered the logistics of the arrangement in this article over here, but now we’re delving a little deeper after having talked to the orchestrators of this new relationship. We wanted to know how AU and 1776 will benefit from their recently formed entrepreneurial partnership, so Donna Harris, Co-Founder at 1776, and AU’s Amy Eisman, Director of Media Entrepreneurship & Interactive, gave us more insight into what to expect now that AU and 1776 will be working together to inspire and encourage the next generation of innovators.

InTheCapital: Why did you choose American University as your first higher education institution to partner with?

Donna Harris: From the very first conversation about the possibility of partnering, American has been enthusiastic about the possibilities. They clearly recognize that students need experiential learning, and a partnership with 1776 gives their students and faculty access to the programming, resources and over 175 startups working out of 1776. I’ve been impressed with how effectively they’ve mobilized — especially across multiple schools — to get a partnership formed.

InTheCapital: How does partnering with American University benefit 1776?

Donna Harris: Students represent the future generation of entrepreneurs, so we very much want them to see there is a vibrant startup community within a short walk of American’s campus. Everyone benefits if the students begin to see entrepreneurship as a career path — either in starting their own companies or getting internships or full-time jobs post-graduation with startups. Entrepreneurship is not easily taught from a text book so the more we can integrate the activities happening on the university campus with those happening in the startup ecosystem the better.

InTheCapital: Now that SOC, Kogod, and SIS are partnering with 1776, what does this mean for students? What are the perks? Will classes be held on 1776’s campus? How about mentorship opportunities. Will students have the opportunity to work with startups currently hacking away at their ventures?

Amy Eisman: We are excited about what this partnership offers AU’s student community. Students will have access to some special programming and networking opportunities; they will have access to classroom and meeting space through school programming; and for those with entrepreneurial projects in mind, they have the chance for discounts on memberships for nights and weekends, in other words — a membership and a place to be creative surrounded by the like-minded.

One of our entrepreneurial programs in SIS already held a class at 1776 this week. My colleague Robert Tomasko, director of the Social Enterprise Program in SIS, said his students “loved studying incubators and accelerators while sitting in the middle of one of them.”

InTheCapital: Why did you choose to partner with 1776 over the many other incubators in and around the D.C. area?

Amy Eisman: We really have been eyeing 1776 from the beginning. Our dean toured the facility during a snow storm in February and our three schools — SOC, Kogod School of Business and the Social Enterprise Program at SIS have been meeting ever since. We’ve been to events, met with leadership and have had a very warm welcome from the co-founders, Donna and Evan. This relationship is new territory, entrepreneurial if you will, and we want to shape what university collaboration means.

InTheCapital: Why is AU investing in supporting entrepreneurship on campus?

Amy Eisman: AU has been growing entrepreneurs for a long time, particularly through a variety of degrees and certificates in Kogod, which continues to have new offerings. SIS added the Social Enterprise MA a few years ago, one of the few such degrees offered worldwide. SOC only recently launched the MA in Media Entrepreneurship, now in its second cohort, to help entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs create the next generation of media. There is a definite clamor for entrepreneurship education in all of our fields; we are happy to be on the cutting edge of those efforts.


Images via American University, 1776