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Wake Forest receives Kemper grant, awards entrepreneur fellowships


May 18, 2007

Wake Forest University has been awarded a $22,000 grant from the James S. Kemper Foundation to support the Fifth Year Institute, an intensive incubator program of the university’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts (OELA) that provides year-long fellowships to graduating seniors who have shown entrepreneurial ability and whose new venture projects demonstrate promise.

Three Wake Forest seniors, Laura Bullins, Martha Napier and John Pyle, have been awarded post-graduation fellowships for the 2007-2008 Fifth Year Institute. 

Through the institute, fellows will receive academic instruction, experiential learning and extended access to community resources that can assist in the planning and implementation of their new ventures. 

The Kemper Grant will provide significant funding to support two of the fellowships.  The third fellowship will be funded by the university, with additional support provided by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 

All fellows will receive a stipend per semester, free course enrollment, a housing allowance and funds for venture development expenses, such as market research, legal advice or prototype creation.

Bullins will work on further developing The Painted Sheep, a company that produces high-quality, hand-painted yarn suitable for knitting and crocheting.  Bullins, who is from Winston-Salem, purchases undyed yarn from wholesale vendors, dyes the yarn using hand-painting techniques and then resells the product through a retail Web site and wholesale-to-retail yarn shops.

Pyle will focus on developing his non-profit organization, Character Resource Foundation (CRF).  The mission of CRF is to provide character education and training materials, including publications and activities, to elementary and middle school children. Pyle is a St. Charles, Mo., resident.

Martha Napier will cultivate her artistic talent and passion for charitable women’s causes in her business, Justees:  For Justice.  The senior from Hinsdale, Ill., created a women’s knit top business that produces hand-dyed, custom-embellished tops for “conscious consumers.”  A portion of the profits will support women’s initiatives, such as battered women’s shelters and breast cancer research. 

 “Our undergraduate students often have wonderful ideas for new ventures, but they seldom have time to simultaneously fulfill their degree requirements and pursue their new venture ideas,” said Betsy Gatewood, director of the OELA.  “Receiving this grant allows students, like Laura, John and Martha, to capitalize on opportunities they have identified.”    

The Fifth Year Institute is in its second academic year of operation. 

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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