New Tools, Programs Fuel Growth in the Bay Region

Micah Merrick and Xavier Nazario, Business and Entrepreneurship Regional Directors in the Bay Region, are working with partners across the sector to provide opportunities for their students to remain competitive in an ever-changing job market.

In partnership with the City of Oakland, Merritt College, ESO Ventures, and LaSonja Hill, the region funded a cohort of 38 entrepreneurs from East Oakland. Each participant completed a 10-week incubator to develop their business ideas and will have the opportunity to earn Merritt College’s digital marketing certificate in the first half of this year.

The cohort, which was comprised entirely of entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, showcased their ideas to the community in November and can earn the three-course digital marketing certificate at no cost. The hope is that they will continue on to take additional courses at Merritt College as they continue on their business journeys.

Merrick and Nazario are also working with Certiport and several of the region’s colleges to create a regional testing center for students to take the QuickBooks Certified User Exam. Creating this center will allow more students to take the exam, which is a tremendous asset for students who want to pursue careers in accounting.

Four colleges have signed onto the effort so far, and plans are in the works to add a fifth college that will serve as the testing center.

Finally, the region is partnering with NexusEdge on a digital badge initiative that will give students a way to demonstrate skills acquired through their courses. NexusEdge integrates with Canvas and faculty can add modules to their existing courses without any additional curriculum review.

As a result, students receive both college credit and industry-recognized credentials for completing their community college coursework. For example, a student in an introductory business course could earn a digital badge showing proficiency in Google Sheets or similar applications.

“We hope this approach will enable students who do not complete a certificate or degree to nonetheless have a meaningful experience they can add to their resumes,” Merrick and Nazario said. “We also hope that faculty will be able to upgrade their curriculum, quickly and easily, to utilize this great content from NexusEdge and their corporate partners.”