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USF entrepreneurship alumni give back

Lena Young Green - President, THJCA

When Jennifer Sineway and her colleagues in USF's entrepreneurship master's degree program graduated from USF in 2011, they decided they didn't want their USF and community involvement to end there.

"We feel that as entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to be leaders within the community," said Sineway, chair of the USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs, a group founded by alumni of the Center for Entrepreneurship. She added that the center's Director Michael Fountain always stressed that entrepreneurship is "about adding value to the community and giving your time and resources."

This year, the alumni group started the Tampa Heights Unites project, hoping to raise enough money to turn on the lights at the urban Tampa Heights neighborhood church-turned-community youth center before the new year. The entrepreneurship alumni had been looking for a community project to support, and alumnus Mit Patel brought it to their attention after he heard about the community center's construction needs through his network.

The civic center has been under construction since 2010, but the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association has encountered difficulties in raising the funds needed to renovate the turn-of-the-century building. Richard Gonzmart, who owns the Columbia Restaurant, has donated a full kitchen, and the Garden Club of Tampa is working on a garden with the neighborhood kids. The USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs hopes to raise enough money to donate light fixtures for the building.

"They move inches forward, but we need to open the center now," Sineway said. "There's a huge need."

Lena Young Green, president of the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association, said the civic association's efforts to build the youth center have been given a boost by the local entrepreneurs."

"That organization is fantastic," she said. "They have got such energy, commitment and involvement. I just feel the energy from them, and they bring such a professional approach to getting things done."

To learn more about the USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs Tampa Heights Unites project, visit