Each spring, Keuka College junior and senior business students take the popular BUS-410 Entrepreneurship class, where business theory and practical application combine to help students practice entrepreneurship by managing their own for-profit microenterprise. It’s known as the annual Keuka College Wine Project.
Under the guidance of Dr. Gary Smith, professor of management, the Wine Project allows students to gain experience in areas including management, marketing, and accounting. Student entrepreneurs are responsible for all aspects of the project, from product development to final financial reporting.
The Wine Project, begun some 30 years ago by former professor of management Bill Breitling, typically turns a profit, with funds helping areas including technology for classrooms, student travel to conferences, and classroom furnishings.
This year, Dr. Smith and his students put those profits toward something they felt was a bit more meaningful—scholarships for returning juniors and seniors who need a small financial boost to be able to stay at Keuka College.
Since Dr. Smith’s class is held in recently built Keuka Commons, complete with state-of-the-art technology and new classroom furniture, he says the class didn’t need to upgrade technology or other items they had traditionally funded.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but sometimes just a few hundred dollars can be the difference between earning a College degree and being derailed.
“So, my ideas turned towards scholarships that would help retain students—especially juniors and seniors who found it difficult to return due to financial limitations,” says Dr. Smith. “It is a shame to lose a student over $500, so we wanted to do something about it.”
Dr. Smith, who has had he plan in the pipeline for three years, was also thinking of how the class might tell its project story in a more meaningful way.
“All purchases [from the Keuka College Wine Project] help student scholarships,” says Dr. Smith. “I think this is a great story of business students using business to help support their fellow business students.”
The dean of student success and chief retention officer will coordinate the selection of students to receive the aid, with about $1,000 annually to fund one or two scholarships. This year, the class collected about $5,000 in wine sales and College merchandise, with a surplus of about $2,000.