A mentoring program for college students in Greensboro who are interested in starting their own businesses is accepting applications for the 2014-15 academic year. The program, Growing Entrepreneurs by Mentoring Students (GEMS), is managed by the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center (NCEC) at UNCG.

Through a competitive application process, up to 20 top entrepreneurial students will be selected this spring and matched one-on-one with experienced entrepreneurs who will serve as mentors. The program starts in the fall and runs through the 2014-2015 academic year. The application deadline is Friday, April 18, and applications may be sent to ncec@uncg.edu. More information can be found at http://ncec.uncg.edu.

In addition to one-on-one mentoring, the program will include dinners and other activities to encourage networking and information sharing among mentors and students. Thanks to generous support from the community, there is no cost for either students or mentors to participate in the program.

“We’ve found that one of the best ways for students to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams is through meaningful engagement with successful role models,” said Bryan Toney, associate vice chancellor for economic development at UNCG. “GEMS allows a very select group of Greensboro-area college students to learn from top entrepreneurs in our region and gain an instant network that can help accelerate their entrepreneurial careers.”

Alesa Moore, a past GEMS participant and UNCG student, said, “By working with my mentor, I have been given so many opportunities to grow within the music-business world. I have gained experience by working with people in my potential field of work. This program has opened so many doors for me already.”

Arthur Stuart, a 2013 graduate of NC A&T, added, “Saying that being a participant in the GEMS program changed my life for the better would be an understatement.”

GEMS is designed to benefit students, mentors and the greater Triad community. Students will receive a personal coach to explore business opportunities, evaluate career options and develop professional skills. In addition, they will join an exclusive network of experienced entrepreneurs and peers. Mentors will experience meaningful engagement with the some of the brightest, most entrepreneurial college students in Greensboro and gain access to future talent. The greater Triad community will benefit from having a new talent pool that can create new businesses and help existing businesses grow.

Applicants must demonstrate entrepreneurial passion either through their academic and work experiences, programs and ventures they have helped to create and lead, and/or their career plans. To be eligible, students must be currently enrolled in any full-time undergraduate or graduate program in Greensboro and plan to graduate no earlier than spring 2015. Participating schools include UNCG, NC A&T, Guilford College, Greensboro College, Elon University, Bennett College, High Point University and Guilford Technical Community College.

Preference will be given to students at the rising junior level and above, but rising sophomores with exceptional qualities and motivation may apply. Students from all academic disciplines are encouraged to apply by submitting a current resume, photograph, letter of recommendation from a faculty member, and a three-page essay describing their entrepreneurial interests and why they would like to participate in GEMS.