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Opportunity Corps 2023
December 13, 2022

Applications are now open for the 2023 Opportunity Corps program for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math and for Black and African American entrepreneurs.

The UNeTech Institute and Bio Nebraska are accepting applications for Opportunity Corps: Women in STEAM, a ten-month education program focused on entrepreneurship and leadership development that matches women academic and industry professionals in Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math with women mentors in those subject areas. The program, a partnership between UNeTech and Bio Nebraska, is funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

And new this year, UNeTech is also accepting applications for Opportunity Corps: Bell-Jewell, a ten-month education program focused on entrepreneurship and leadership development that matches Black and African American entrepreneurs with Black and African American mentors. The program, a partnership between UNeTech, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, and Collective Futures Design Lab, is funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Opportunity Corps: Bell-Jewell focuses on a different subject each month, with a one-day educational workshop session featuring Black and African American experts and leaders from the community — led by UNeTech staff, and Jamel Hamilton and Katherine MacHolmes — as well as one-on-one mentoring sessions with the mentors each month. All fellows who complete the ten-month program are paid a stipend of $500.

Opportunity Corps: Women in STEAM focuses on a different subject each month, with a one-day educational workshop session featuring STEAM industry experts and leaders from the community, as well as one-on-one mentoring sessions with the mentors each month. All fellows who complete the ten-month program are paid a stipend of $500.

The 2023 program, in its second year, will begin in February and run through November. The deadline to apply is January 6, 2023.

Opportunity Corps WiS Program Schedule

  • February 10, 2023: Intros, Welcome, What is tech transfer?
  • March 10, 2023: Business Models & Customer Discovery
  • April 14, 2023: Value Propositions
  • May 12, 2023: Customer Profile
  • June 9, 2023: Ecosystem and Channels 
  • July 14, 2023: Customer Relationships
  • August 11, 2023: Revenue Streams
  • September 8, 2023: Activities, Resources, and Partners
  • October 13, 2023: Team Presentations
  • November 3, 2023: Graduation and Celebration

Each program date will is tentatively scheduled from 9am to 4pm. Individuals accepted into the program will need to coordinate the commitment with their employer. 


Program Goals for WiS

In an effort to overcome the barriers that women and femme-identifying people face in STEAM industries, especially as entrepreneurs, the main goals of Opportunity Corps are: 

  • To provide women femme-identifying people in STEAM access to mentors and program presenters who are experts in their fields.
  • To create awareness of existing women femme-identifying leaders.
  • To help forge a path to leadership and entrepreneurship for women femme-identifying people in STEAM, whether to become leaders within an existing organization or to start their own venture.
  • To benefit the community and STEAM industries in Nebraska by helping women femme-identifying people address and overcome barriers to leadership and entrepreneurship, allowing for a more confident sharing of ideas and leadership abilities.

Who can apply for WiS?

Women and femme-identifying people who currently work in STEAM, either in academia or as an industry professional (including individuals from Bio Nebraska member companies and the bioscience industry), and have an interest in entrepreneurship, leadership, invention, and innovation are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to participate in the program due to a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

WiS Written Application Here

WiS Video Application Here

Applications are due Friday, January 6, 2023.

Meet the WiS Mentors

Agnes Lenagh, Ph.D. | Science

Agnes Lenagh, Ph.D. is an adaptable leader and strategic thinker with a decade of experience in the life sciences sector. She joined Streck in 2017 and currently serves as the company’s business development and intellectual property analyst. In her role, Agnes manages the IP portfolio and transactions with an emphasis on strategy, collaboration with business partners, and implementation of a holistic approach to further the target business objectives. Prior to Streck, Agnes was at UNeMed, the research commercialization entity for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Nebraska Medicine. 

In addition to her responsibilities at Streck, Agnes devotes time to making science accessible to kids and advocating for equal opportunities in STEM to create diverse and inclusive environments. Agnes has been a member of Bio Nebraska since 2012, is an active member of the Licensing & Executives Society and serves on Streck’s Diversity & Inclusion Council.

Agnes holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and experimental neuroscience from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and a B.S. degree in biology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

Itzel Lopez | Technology

Itzel Lopez is the VP of Advancement & Community Relations at the AIM Institute, Omaha’s only non-profit dedicated to local tech talent education and career development. An active member of the Hispanic and broader community, Itzel has played a key role in the growth of the annual Cinco de Mayo Omaha festivities. She is a recent graduate of the Non-Profit Leadership Institute and Leadership Omaha and is currently participating in the inaugural class of Opportunity Corps 2022, a professional development and entrepreneurship mentorship program for Women in STEAM through the UNeTech Institute and Bio Nebraska. Born and raised in Mexico, Itzel and her family moved to Omaha when she was 12 years old.

 

 

Amanda Wilson | Engineering

Amanda Wilson, originally from Omaha, Nebraska, has a background in chemical engineer with a B.S from Missouri S&T. She’s spent most of her career working in production as an engineer for various companies. She joined Novozymes in 2015 as a process engineer and after spending some time as an operations director, she has taken a role as Sr. Product Quality Manager for Novozymes Specialty Proteins business. Amanda has a lot of passion for promoting and developing Women in STEM, after spending most of her career in the minority in both engineering and in manufacturing and encountering some of the hurdles many women in the STEM field have dealt with. In her free time, she is an ultramarathoner, running 50k and 50 Mile races, and enjoys spending time with her husband and cat.

Haley Haas | Art

Haley Haas is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Anastasis Theatre Co. She has worked as a teaching artist and facilitator with The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha Community Playhouse, WhyArts, and Creighton Medical School’s Clinical Education and Simulation Center. Haley worked for 15 years as an actor and the Training and Education Director for R.E.S.P.E.C.T., a touring educational theatre company. Haley holds a BFA in Theater performance from Creighton University. She has also trained with the groundbreaking community-engaged theater company Cornerstone based in Los Angeles, CA.

Shannon Lang | Mathematics

Shannon Lang was born and raised in Omaha and continues to call it home with her husband Andy, and their twins, Beck and Ruby. She started her volunteer career with the Junior League of Omaha to socialize, but she quickly fell in love with volunteering and non-profits. The League was the jumping off point of the countless non-profit relationships she was to make in the years to come. Shannon was so inspired by the work that non-profits do in our community, she went back to school to get a degree in nonprofit management from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. With degree in hand, she founded Catalyst Consulting to help nonprofits bridge gaps in their organizations. Her volunteer includes developing Kitchen Connections for the Junior League of Omaha, founding the No More Empty Pots Guild in 2019, serving on the Fontenelle Forest Guild Board, and acts as a liaison between individuals or corporations looking for volunteer opportunities and the non-profits in need of volunteers.

Program Goals for OC:BJ

 In an effort to overcome the barriers that Black and African American entrepreneurs face, the main goals of Opportunity Corps: Bell-Jewell are: 

  • To provide Black and African American entrepreneurs access to mentors and program presenters who are experts in their fields.
  • To create awareness of existing Black and African American entrepreneurs and leaders.
  • To help forge a path to leadership and entrepreneurship for Black and African American entrepreneurs, whether to become leaders within an existing organization or to start their own venture.
  • To benefit Nebraska by helping Black and African American entrepreneurs address and overcome barriers to leadership and entrepreneurship, allowing for a more confident sharing of ideas and leadership abilities.

 

Opportunity Corps: BJ Program Schedule

  • February 17, 2023: Intros, Welcome, What is tech transfer?
  • March 17, 2023: Business Models & Customer Discovery
  • April 28, 2023: Value Propositions
  • May 26, 2023: Customer Profile
  • June 23, 2023: Ecosystem and Channels 
  • July 28, 2023: Customer Relationships
  • August 25, 2023: Revenue Streams
  • September 22, 2023: Activities, Resources, and Partners
  • October 27, 2023: Team Presentations
  • November 17, 2023: Graduation and Celebration

Each program date is tentatively scheduled from 9am to 4pm. Individuals accepted into the program will need to coordinate the commitment with their employer. 

Who can apply for OC:BJ?

Black and African American residents of Omaha, Lincoln and the surroundings areas who have an interest in entrepreneurship, leadership, invention, and innovation are encouraged to apply. There is no cost to participate in the program due to a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

OC:BJ Written Application Here

OC:BJ Video Application Here

Applications are due Friday, January 6, 2023.

Meet the Bell-Jewell Mentors

Angel Starks

Angel is a proud native Omahan. She is an Omaha Central graduate, who studied Elementary Education and Nonprofit Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She earned her Nebraska Real Estate License in 2011. She is a member of the Omaha Area Board of REALTORS (OABR), the Nebraska REALTORS Association, the National Association of REALTORS. She serves on the OABR’s Diversity and Education Committees and is a member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS (WCR) and Young Professionals’ Network (YPN). She served as the 2018 President of the Women’s Council-Omaha Network, the 2019 State Governor, and the 2020 Regional Vice President. She also completed the Nebraska REALTORS® Association Leadership Academy and is serving her second term as a Director on the Omaha Area REALTORS® Board.

As the President and CEO of Locale Real Estate Services, Angel leads Team Locale w/ Nebraska Realty, a Team of nine in providing exceptional service to buyer and seller clients in the Greater Omaha area. She enjoys working with individuals, especially first-time homebuyers/sellers, and walking them through the process of purchasing or selling their homes. She loves sharing the excitement of life events, and buying a home is usually on a person’s bucket list. “Omaha is on the move, and I love showing people that it’s a great place to live, work and play.” Angel was honored as the 2013 DEEB Realty Rookie of the Year and has received several industry awards and honors every year since. 

Angel is a real estate agent by profession, and an educator by passion. She believes her purpose in life is to fight for the rights of children; especially their educational and social-emotional needs. She feels financial literacy is very important to everyone, and such skills should be established in our youth. Angel has served for many years as a Lead Educational Advocate with Heart2Heart Educational Services/Growing Hearts Collaborative, and ibas served on several community boards, and including on the boards for the American Diabetes Association, the Maple/Butler-Gast YMCA, and Habitat for Humanity Omaha. She believes everyone is a teacher in their own right.

Kerron Stark

Kerron Stark is an Omaha native, musician, author, actor and visionary. He is the creator and host of Omaha’s only live-action, educational, preschool television series, “Mister K’s Clubhouse”, “Rarity of Nature Podcast”, and the founder of Dreams V Reality, a 501c3 nonprofit whose focus is education through quality live-action content and providing opportunities for youth to thrive and be successful. Kerron believes that through the power of imagination, human interaction, following your dreams, and genuine love, you will achieve the greatest formula children need to succeed.

Keith Station

Keith Station currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff in Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s office. His role is to advise the Mayor on issues related to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and develop and execute a strategic plan for Diversity & Inclusion for the City of Omaha. Prior to joining the Mayor’s team, he spent 5 years as Director of Business Relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions where he helped to lead the strategic business engagement efforts for the local workforce investment board that serves Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington Counties. Before joining HWS, he was an Executive Director within the YMCA of Greater Omaha Association. Keith holds a Master’s Degree from Indiana University, and Bachelors. in Business Administration/ Marketing from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Keith is a North Omaha native and a self-proclaimed “Girl-Dad.”  An avid golfer, he loves his Central Eagles, Cornhuskers, and Dallas Cowboys!  Keith serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Charles Drew Health Center, the Business Ethics Alliance, Omaha Community Playhouse, Front Porch Investments, Omaha Public Schools Foundation, Merrymakers Association, and Heartland Workforce Solutions. He is the current Chair for the Heartland 2050 Regional Planning Advisory Committee. 

Winsley Durand III

Winsley Durand III is the Vice President of Member Services for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. The following programs report to him: REACH, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Small Business and Membership.  is an education-based capacity building program for small and emerging businesses. Prior Chamber responsibilities encompassed engagement in and supervision of the Chamber’s domestic and international business attraction efforts, including the Chamber’s International, Minority Economic Development and Military Affairs efforts.  He is recognized as a certified Economic Development Master Practitioner.

Winsley has served on the following boards: ACE Mentoring program, International Council of Shopping Centers, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Urban League of Nebraska, Habitat for Humanity – Omaha, and the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) Procurement & Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Board. 

Winsley has been an instructor for the past thirteen years at the Illinois Basic Economic Development Course, a program of the International Economic Development Council that provides economic development–based education to EDO’s.

Recognitions include: Martin Luther King “Living the Dream Award” – City of Omaha (2022); Gold Award for Equity & Inclusion Programs for Communities over 500,000 – International Economic Development Council (2020); Men of Courage Award – Black Men United (2019); African-American Leadership Award in Business – Urban League of Nebraska (2019); Mentoring Program of the Year – Mentor Nebraska (2019); Omaha’s 40 Under 40 (2008); and Advocate of the Year – Great Plains Minority Supplier Development Council – 2007.

Choosing the name of Bell-Jewell for this cohort was intentional to honor and uplift the rich history of Black entrepreneurship within the city, particularly the history of North Omaha. Both Bell and Jewell are names of Black entrepreneurial families and community leaders who contributed to the cultural and social fabric of North Omaha. For the name of this cohort, we wanted to uplift the legacy of Black entrepreneurship and the Community.

James “Jimmy” Grant Jewell lived from 1869 – 1930 as a resident of Omaha. He and his wife Cecilia ran the Dreamland Ballroom, which was built to be an entertainment center in North Omaha. The Jewell hosted phenomenal Black artists like Duke Ellington and Count Basie and created a space for the Black people of Omaha to enjoy art, and gather socially as a part of the thriving North Omaha business sector. For a further understanding of the legacy of Jimmy Grant Jewell, read here.

James “Jim” Bell lived from 1884-1959. He was the founder and owner of the Harlem Club in North Omaha. Several versions of his business operated at 24th and Lake Streets. Club Harlem was an opulent and swinging nightclub that quickly became a social place for all Omahans. To read more about Bell and the Harlem Club, read here.

Questions?

Reach out directly to Stephanie Kidd at stephanie.kidd@unetech.org for more information. 


About Us

About UNeTech Institute

UNeTech Institute is an entrepreneurial support organization in Omaha, Nebraska, jointly supported by UNMC and UNO, whose mission is to support entrepreneurs and innovators by harnessing the resources of the University of Nebraska ecosystem and the Omaha and greater Nebraska community. UNeTech works with some of the brightest minds in the state to turn University research ideas into commercialized and successful businesses. To learn more about UNeTech, visit www.unetech.org.

About Bio Nebraska

Founded in 2005, Bio Nebraska is a non-profit trade association dedicated to supporting and promoting Nebraska’s bioscience sector and ensuring the sector grows and thrives. Bio Nebraska is the only organization in the state representing over 100 bio-related entities in the human health, medical device, animal health, agriculture, renewable fuels and industrial biotech sectors, as well as educational institutions and service providers. For more information, visit bionebraska.org.

About Nebraska Enterprise Fund

Nebraska Enterprise Fund is a statewide microenterprise intermediary and Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) providing business development services and financing to micro and small businesses across Nebraska. The Nebraska Enterprise fund envisions a vibrant small business eco-system where every small and micro business has the opportunity to start, grow and prosper. The Nebraska Enterprise Fund supports underserved communities by providing micro and small businesses with access to training, technical assistance and capital. NEF serves a target market of traditionally disadvantaged small businesses, including those owned by people of color, low-income people, women and veterans.

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