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Microsoft in your community

Encouraging entrepreneurship and improving social impact in Phoenix

The McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona (UA), is known for its top-ranked entrepreneurship education programs. In recent years, the Center has sought to expand its social impact offerings as well.

Offering a breadth of programming

Microsoft has been working with the University of Arizona Foundation (UAF) and the McGuire Center to develop mutually beneficial partnerships and programs. The UAF’s services support university projects and programs, such as the McGuire Center’s social innovation programs which are developing the workforce for southern Arizona by working with local innovators and nonprofits to design strategies that address complex social problems. UA students are then given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skill sets in real-world applications.

The McGuire Center’s programming introduces students and community members to corporate social responsibility, sustainability, social innovation, and social venturing opportunities. The support of Microsoft has been instrumental in the development of UA’s New Venture Development Program and Eller Entrepreneurship and Innovation Capstone Initiative. The Capstone Initiative centers around UA’s ENTR 485 course “Innovating: Creating the Future,” a required class for all business seniors (approximately 1,000 students each year). The class teaches students how to think like an entrepreneur by developing a business plan for an innovative product or service.

Microsoft’s involvement in partnership with the Center has included presenting a McGuire Innovation Talk on Digital Access, Inclusivity, and Indigenous Populations, and speaking to the ENTR 485 classes about corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. Microsoft also funds the $5,000 prize for the Social Impact awards, given as part of the New Venture program’s Innovation Expo. This event features student startup teams presenting new ventures at a pitch competition and trade show.

Igniting innovation and entrepreneurship

In 2019, Microsoft contributed $15,000 towards the McGuire Center for several programs, including the Capstone Initiative’s Big Pitch competition, the Social Impact awards, and the Sustainability & Social Impact Summit. With this new funding from Microsoft, the Center will be able to establish new cross-campus social venture programming—hackathons, startup weekends, and pitch competitions—that provides opportunities for students from all disciplines to explore building solutions and ventures to solve social impact challenges. Microsoft’s support will anchor the social impact workshops and awards to train, develop, and launch student ventures while educating a large number of UA students.

The latest contributions will also fund professional education tracks with the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. The Foundation launched a new nonprofit hub in Tucson and hopes that the McGuire Center can be their primary educational partner. This partnership will allow for curriculum and operational development while new staff build upon donor relations to drive sustainability.

To maximize the collective impact, the McGuire Center also hopes to bring in Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Management to support professional education for Tucson-area nonprofits and social venture leaders. While the McGuire Center and Eller Social Innovation Nonprofit Leadership Certificate has been offered in the past, the Microsoft support would allow more nonprofit professionals from smaller organizations to participate. The variety of education opportunities would also be expanded—which has been an expressed need of nonprofit organizations and employees in the area. By growing the capacity of the nonprofit and social venture workforce, the McGuire Center’s social innovation programming can indirectly support community priorities.

Maximizing impact and opportunities for Arizona’s students

UA’s current social innovation programs serve over 1,000 students at the Eller College. The new cross-campus initiatives should allow the programs to reach an additional 2,000 students from across other schools. Through the professional education programs, social innovation programs have reached just over 100 professionals this past year.

Looking forward, the McGuire Center and new student leadership are interested in relaunching the TEDxUA campus event to also include sustainability and social impact talks. Microsoft may be given the chance to speak at the event and would be featured as a corporate sponsor of the event.

“The contributions made by Microsoft enrich our students’ experience at the UA, and their ability to integrate social impact into their education and lives,” said McGuire Center Director Remy Arteaga. “Having Microsoft’s support and expertise enhances our social impact programs and enables the Center to increase its local, regional, and national impact by providing more people with essential business skills, entrepreneurial and innovative mindsets, and tools for social impact.”

“The contributions made by Microsoft enrich our students’ experience at the UA, and their ability to integrate social impact into their education and lives.”
—Remy Arteaga, McGuire Center Director