Aid for nonprofit start-ups


Venture: A Frederick entrepreneur and part-time college professor is helping 16 students launch a business incubator.

May 29, 2002|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

THINKING about starting a nonprofit organization to save the Baltimore oriole or promote reggae in Maryland schools? The 16 students in John Laughlin's business course at Mount St. Mary's College are ready to help.

Last month, Laughlin, a Frederick businessman and part-time professor at the Emmitsburg college, said he would invest up to $1 million in as many as 20 small businesses to be planned and run by his students.

As reported in The Sun, Laughlin said he would absorb the losses of failed ventures, each of which he would capitalize at about $50,000. (He predicted a 50 percent success rate.) But he would share any profits with students, for whom there would be additional benefits: college credit and, in some cases, employment with the new businesses.

Last week, at the first session of a five-week summer course for adult undergraduates, students decided to launch a business incubator for nonprofit organizations. "It could be for anything from political fund raising to saving the Siberian white tiger to building better schools," said Laughlin. "We don't know, because our customers don't really exist yet."

Laughlin, an entrepreneur who has started many businesses, said the idea for the new venture was his, although it was endorsed after much discussion in a class vote. "Typically," he said, "new nonprofits suffer from a lack of professional management, and they become quickly frustrated in the task of raising funds. ... Fund raising is usually a negative activity for three years - two if you're really lucky."

Services provided by the business will be contracted, Laughlin said. Even at that, he expects the company to earn a profit one day. "Let's say we charge $500 a month for our services, and we attract 20 nonprofits. That's $10,000 a month [income]. I think we could easily do it for half that."

A senior partner and chief investor in nine businesses, Laughlin said the first session of his course, at Mount St. Mary's Frederick campus, started with many questions, "but ended in the atmosphere of the first day of summer camp. They're really pumped."

"So am I."

Women widen gender gap among students in colleges

Where the boys aren't?

In the late 1970s, women first began to outnumber men at colleges and universities across the nation, "and they haven't looked back," says Michael J. Keller, director of policy analysis and research for the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Maryland is no exception. In 2000, according to commission figures, nearly six of 10 higher-education students in Maryland were women. But it's not a matter of men disappearing, says Keller. Indeed, male enrollment has increased over the last couple of decades, but the number of women going to college has grown much faster, accounting for 80 percent of total enrollment growth.

Keller says researchers differ on the cause of the collegiate gender gap. One explanation that makes sense is that more white-collar jobs are open to women in the information era, so more women need more higher education.

But a closer look at the gender gap shows it's wider among low-income, black and Latino students and nearly nonexistent among middle-income whites.

Life is sweet and profitable for pharmacy school grads

Mamas, let your babies grow up to be pharmacists.

In a good example of cause and effect, the establishment of a chain drugstore at every fourth intersection in the civilized world has created a severe shortage of pharmacists.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that the number of unfilled full- and part-time drug store pharmacist positions climbed from 2,700 in 1988 to nearly 7,000 in 2000. Experts predict a shortage of 157,000 by 2020.

All of which makes life sweet for pharmacy school graduates at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and elsewhere. UMB officials said last week that graduates routinely start at $70,000, and that some are being offered signing bonuses and relocation allowances.

3 CCBC campuses to hold first unified graduation

The Community College of Baltimore County became a single-college, multicampus school four years ago, and ever since it's been trying to get the public to think of it that way.

Saturday, another step: CCBC will hold its first unified commencement in the field house of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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