CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center.

Connect ALL @ the Jacobs Center Cohort 2.

Connecting at the Jacobs Center

September 1, 2020 | San Diego Community College District

CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center (CAJC) is working to generate employment opportunities by training entrepreneurs, and to help get the job done the organization has partnered with the San Diego Community College District’s Corporate Council.

Alex Waters, director of CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center.
Alex Waters, director of CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center.

“We are grateful to be part of the Corporate Council because we see it as vital in forging connections to create access and provide resources that can be leveraged by people along their journey to entrepreneurship,” CAJC Director Alex Waters said.

CAJC is headquartered at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in the Diamond Neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego. The organization houses a 4,300-square-foot, co-working facility and is focused on supporting startups and entrepreneurs in diverse, oft-ignored, low- and moderate-income communities. Its Business Accelerator provides tools to help innovators scale quickly, including expert mentoring, weekly workshops, a community of fellow entrepreneurs, and assistance in learning about different types of capital. CAJC’s Business Resource Center provides a space where aspiring entrepreneurs and established small business professionals alike can connect to learn about services and support programs to move ideas and businesses forward.

In return for receiving no-cost business acceleration services and up to six months of free access to co-working space, founders — as their businesses grow — commit to hiring low- to moderate-income San Diego residents for the jobs that are created.

CAJC launched its first cohort of 13 teams totaling 22 entrepreneurs in April of 2019 and a second cohort of 14 teams totaling 17 people the following October. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAJC shifted completely to a virtual program for its third cohort and welcomed 14 teams. Some businesses have taken the lessons learned to boost capital, increase revenue, and grow their staffing, Waters said. Among the businesses taking part to date are PromoDrone, which employs drones for advertising campaigns; Access Trax, which develops mats providing universal access for people using mobility devices, including strollers on beaches; and DocFully, which brings telehealth services to the homeless and underserved.

CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center.
Accelerator space at CONNECT ALL @ the Jacobs Center.

Raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland and a graduate of the University of Maryland, Waters first came to San Diego to earn his master’s degree in philosophy from San Diego State University. After launching his career in Maryland with 2U, an educational technology startup that contracts with colleges and universities to offer online degree programs, he returned to San Diego several years later and launched an education tech startup. He worked as a consultant with the UC San Diego Design Lab and served as the Program Director at the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation. He also teaches at the University of San Diego’s Professional & Continuing Education program and serves as a coach with other leadership development firms. He came to CAJC in December of 2018 with a mission to grow the program.

“The end goal is job creation,” Waters said, “and we can reach that goal by working together with the San Diego Community College District and the Corporate Council.”

Applications to join Cohort 4 in Spring 2021 are now being accepted.

CAJC is a strategic partnership between the City of San Diego, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and CONNECT. This program is funded in whole or in part with Community Development Block Grant program funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the City of San Diego. Private funding is also provided by partners MUFG Union Bank N.A. and bkm OfficeWorks.


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