Program Overview

RISE29 represents a partnership between East Carolina University and Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, and Pitt counties. The heart of RISE29 lies with student entrepreneurs responding to community-driven need. To pinpoint areas of greatest need, RISE29 partners gather community input to drive selection of projects across the region.

Student entrepreneurs are then matched to communities to begin new startup companies or provide support for business continuity plans. Advanced tools for data analytics housed at ECU’s Economic Growth Collaboratory provide economic development intelligence to drive focus and increase the likelihood of success.

RISE29 leverages other ECU and partner assets to support these ventures, including laboratories, greenhouses and collaborative spaces at ECU. Regional partners provide expertise alongside regional assets including human capital, facilities, funding, and existing programming including community colleges, chambers of commerce, downtown development corporations, and small business centers.

Throughout the process, student teams receive mentoring from university, community and industry leaders. Mentor connections are made through a virtual matchmaking platform, ensuring that student entrepreneurs are connected with the most appropriate resources, mentors and community needs. Effective mentorship is a key element of RISE29 as it is imperative for students to connect with knowledgeable and experienced faculty, community members, and seasoned entrepreneurs.

At the end of the process, student teams launch microenterprises across the region, contributing to a vibrant economic future for eastern North Carolina. Students continue to receive mentoring even after launching their businesses, ensuring that the student teams, ECU and its partners are held accountable for the success of the microenterprise.

ECU is continuing to add additional eastern North Carolina counties to the program that fall within ECU’s 29 county service region. These 29 counties include Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson are faced with greater economic, education and health disparities due to their local population and lack of resources.

Connect with RISE29 to learn how your community can participate in the program.