Big Deals: Virtual Executive Workshops, Mental Health Expansions, and Hackathons


Online education for underserved communities, improving access to mental health services, and discovering new business strategy solutions

Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), a leading community-based non-profit organization that advocates and provides resources for residents of South Los Angeles and beyond, is excited to announce the launch of TESA (Transformative Entrepreneurship Startup Academy). TESA is a proprietary and innovative curriculum that is designed for underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners in mind. TESA provides access to quality education and transformative ways to thinking and approaching challenges, building a new era of entrepreneurship. Recognizing the importance of fostering entrepreneurship within marginalized communities, this ground-breaking curriculum is designed to holistically equip workshop participants with the mindset, knowledge, skills, and resources needed to start, sustain, and thrive in the competitive business world. 

Quentin Strode, President and CEO of VSEDC says, “We are thrilled to launch TESA and impact the South LA’s business community. This 8 week virtual workshop is truly transforming as underserved entrepreneurs will embark on a transformative journey that will turn their aspirations into tangible realities. In addition to enhancing their business know-hows, entrepreneurs will further benefit from our partnership with University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters and Arts as expert instructors and industry professionals will share real world insights and practical advice. Connecting with such mentors will provide further guidance and support to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship. A sincere acknowledgement also goes to Verizon and PNC Bank for their support in underwriting the workshop.”  

Kecia Washington, Board Chair for VSEDC adds, “Entrepreneurs in historically overlooked communities have unique challenges that often become its own obstacles. We are proud to provide TESA to help overcome them and enhance their opportunities to succeed.”

VSEDC believes that by empowering underserved small business owners, we can contribute to the overall economic growth and resilience of our community. TESA is a testament to our commitment in fostering inclusive entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for all.

To learn more about TESA or to enroll, please visit www.vsedc.org


 Uwill, the nation’s fastest-growing on-campus mental health provider today announced the acquisition of Christie Campus Health, which offers counseling and mental health and wellness support to 750,000 students from more than 100 colleges. The first acquisition by the nation’s leader in on-campus mental health solutions, reflects growing demand for mental health treatment and therapy on campus, amid a nationwide shortage.

“Campus mental health is the most important issue facing higher education leaders today, with far-reaching implications for not just learners, but for families—and entire communities,” said Michael London, founder and CEO of Uwill. “By combining Christie Campus Health with the sophisticated digital capabilities of the Uwill platform, we have assembled the team, technology and clinical resources to meet the diverse and growing needs of any college in the country.

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), an estimated 77 percent of college students struggle with their mental health. However research suggests that half of students with a mental health condition never access care and a third of students say they do not know who and where to turn while experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Uwill was founded in 2020 to help campus counseling centers tackle overwhelming student demand. The company now serves more than 2 million students worldwide through a pioneering “matching” platform that connects students with a therapist that they choose, in less than five minutes. The acquisition of Christie Campus Health follows a period of rapid growth for Uwill, which ranks among the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.

The company—which raised $30 million in May 2023 from Education Growth Partners (EGP), already works with more than 200 colleges and universities in all 50 states, including Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Michigan, tribal-serving Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, and Columbus State Community College. 

In May, the company announced a first-in-the-nation statewide partnership with the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education designed to provide 24/7 access to free mental health support throughout the entire year for students enrolled in 45 participating institutions. “We have admired Uwill for years. Their early investments in technology immediately differentiated their approach, establishing themselves as the break-out player in this space among not just students, but college leaders,” Fred Chicos, founder of Christie Campus Health. “Since 2018, we have worked side-by-side with our client schools to understand how to meet the unique needs of both the students and the counseling centers. We’re proud to join a team that can help to not only scale our impact, but that shares our values and mission of expanding mental health support for colleges and their students.” To learn more about Uwill, visit www.uwill.com.


NYUCT Design Labs, a venture design and innovation firm, launched the first Hack & the Beanstalk edition with a 5-day hackathon program in collaboration with Mumbai’s Rachana Sansad College of Applied Art and Craft (CAAC), a leading design institute. A curriculum for innovation, design thinking and business-led creativity was designed for the campus and 110 multidisciplinary design students got familiar with these tools to solve the business problem. 11 groups squared off for the winning titles and prizes.  

Today businesses and organisations are challenged by out-of-syllabus problems. And these need out of the box solutions that are agile, original and untemplated. This is what Hack & the Beanstalk™, the first of its kind Design & Innovation hackathon does. It solves design problems at scale with young untemplated minds and business-design tools. The problems could be around product, service, experience, brand or go to market. 

The first edition of Hack & the Beanstalk saw the students design solutions for a civic brand challenge. How would one reimagine Mumbai to become a leading destination brand for new businesses, startups, talents, and investors. How can Mumbai city uniquely differentiate and sustain itself especially in view of new emergent cities that compete for attention and capital.

In the words of the Principal in Charge, of Rachna Sansad CAAC Dr Prajakta Parvatikar, “The beauty of this collaboration lies in its dual focus on hackathon dynamics and venture design principles. Students aren’t just solving problems; they’re crafting solutions with a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset. It ensures that participants benefit from a holistic blend of academic excellence and business-led creativity.”

Co-Founder, NYUCT Design Labs, Manojeet Bhujabal feels that, “Design and business-led creativity can be unboxed with the right kind of innovative programs and curriculums. It can help businesses with unique solutions to their problems and enable students to become truly entrepreneurial and impactful with their ideas and knowledge. At NYUCT Design Labs, a Venture Design & Innovation firm, we constantly explore innovations and ways in which businesses and organizations can use design, agile strategy, and technology to create new ventures, products, and experiences.”   

Hack & the Beanstalk addresses multiple concerns of forward-thinking organizations looking for agile and creative business solutions. How does it do it

End-to-end management for multiple agile solutions—The entire hackathon program and pre-work is managed from end-to-end by professional venture designers. It uses Venture design & innovation tools and a curated curriculum to help solve from concept development to prototype design.

Agile program with time-bound outcomes—Run professionally, the entire duration including pre-work, hacking, prototype solutions, storyboarding, pitches, and branding typically takes 5 to 6 weeks. An agile program, Hack & the Beanstalk is centered around business and design outcomes.

Learning by doing and growing an innovation culture—This helps organizations create a culture of design thinking and innovation, by giving associates and employees a back-to-school, hands-on experience of design thinking. It is fun with venture design tool kits, props, workshop sessions and design-sprints as one watches young minds hack their problem with amazingly original solutions.

Branding and content for your organization (on & off campus)—With Hack & the Beanstalk, organizations, businesses, and brands can create their own branded innovation & ideation program on campus while the team of makers and creators at NYUCT Design Labs manage, design and market it for them with a suite of services.

Prototype execution & development with venture designers post-hackathon—As an optional engagement, the venture design team at NYUCT Design Labs helps the client bring to life the shortlisted prototype concepts and scale them for being launch-ready.  There will be more editions of Hack & the Beanstalk and discussions are on with clients and organizations who want to explore this model to solve some of their unique design and product challenges. NYUCT Design Labs also incubates and manages custom design programs for organizations and campuses to solve business and design challenges (depending on academic calendars and on request). For more information, head to https://hackandthebeanstalk.com

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