FY21 Projects

Service-Learning Program for Local Business Assistance at UC Santa Cruz

Submitted by Manel Camps, Provost of Crown College 

Sponsored by Henry Chu

Approved Aug. 4, 2020


Core Idea:

The core idea for this proposal is to create a program that supports local businesses’ efforts to adapt to the COVID-19 world, while providing our students with an opportunity to practice their entrepreneurial leadership and project management skills. The student-led teams’ partner with local/community businesses to provide and execute solutions at no cost.

This service-learning class, Crown 95, is structured as a continuation class to Crown’s two entrepreneurship classes (Crown 90 and Crown 92). Crown 90 (Start-up Academy) and Crown 92 (Social and Creative Entrepreneurship) familiarize our students with the Lean Startup Method of entrepreneurship, the basics of customer discovery and product-market-fit research.

The Lean Startup Method of Eric Reis is a method to develop a business model that anticipates uncertainty in operating conditions and that focuses on analyzing, testing, and verifying customer demand through customer discovery (Eric Reis, 2020). Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine and cofounder of the annual Hackers’ Conference started in1984, explains that we must understand that the key concept developed in Silicon Valley was not a specific technology or miraculous product but in fact the startup model and its developing entrepreneurial culture (Fisher, 2018). The fundamental goal of the UCSC entrepreneurship ecosystem is to provide students and faculty with the detailed knowledge and specific experiential skills and capabilities to fully understand and successfully navigate the entire entrepreneurship startup process from idea to venture beginning to venture growth to a successful commercial or social enterprise.

In these classes students learn to identify and understand industry ecosystems and the basic components of a successful scalable, repeatable business model. In Crown 95, the students put their skills to use to get real-world experience in project account management from intake to close-out at no cost to the local business client. 

Crown 95 builds on those concepts and provides our students with opportunities to assist local businesses to ensure continuing revenue streams. Using the skills and knowledge acquired in the prerequisite classes, students can quickly formulate the client’s current Business Model Canvas and then hypothesize a better virtual model that extends their online presence as required for any business to sustain and thrive in the COVID-19 world. Based on the proposed business model, our students propose and execute solutions that will bring in and/or increase existing revenue streams to these local businesses. These services are free, but clients pay for software and other hard costs. 

Businesses are chosen through two channels: they can be recommended by the City and County of Santa Cruz and/or they can apply to the program through the GetVirtual Website. To be approved by the class, the business must have done well before COVID-19 and now need better performance. When a business is selected, students work with clients to propose solutions, and upon agreement, lead the implementation and execution of the proposed solutions. Students use systems thinking, taking advantage of the internet, e-Commerce and best practice business processes. Students partner with local/community businesses to provide basic off-the-shelf software implementation, mainly website plug-ins and marketing campaign creation.

Specifically, through Crown 95, our students provide the following

  1. E-Commerce mainly with Shopify and Square
  2. Basic website development, plug-in services, working with Squarespace and Wix:
    • Virtual appointments
    • Other plug-in services
  3. Online payment providers like Stripe
  4. Delivery services like ShipStation, Instacart and GrubHub
  5. Gift card programs
  6. Online marketing campaigns:
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), email and social media campaigns
  1. Support (Students teach businesses how to maintain and nurture their brand).

Some of these skills (leadership, teamwork, communication with a client) are valuable core professional skills that will serve our students in any career path. 

As the program grows, we envision paying top-performing students that completed the course to stay with the organization to help scale, mentor new students, curate, and build out a next-generation small business technology platform to accelerate small business online revenue. 

This summer we were able to secure $50,000 in funding from the Santa Cruz City Council and by City of Santa Cruz Economic Development to do just that. These paid internships represent very valuable career development opportunities for our students.


Outcomes on the student’s end:

On the student’s end, the immediate goal is for students to practice iterative design thinking, agile product development and management skills while working with local Santa Cruz County businesses to augment their online revenue streams. Individual students lead and execute on Client agreed upon proposals and scope of work. The instructional team led by Nada Miljković and the GetVirtual Founder, Toby Corey, is based on fostering a supportive positive environment where all mistakes and failures are considered learning opportunities. Workshops of all sorts have spontaneously arisen due to a client need on topics such as SEO, Wix and Square installation, Wordpress, and social media campaigns. Students give workshops to each other whenever one of them has gained some skill that the team is deficient in.

Outcomes on the customer’s end:

On the customer’s end, the goal is to support small businesses as they successfully transition to the COVID-19 world. This includes learning how to engage current and future customers online and to conduct marketing, sales, and customer support virtually.

Amount funded: $40,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Crown College: is one of the ten colleges at UCSC known for its focus on STEM and its culture of innovation. Along with Crown 95, its curriculum already includes two entrepreneurship classes: Crown 90 Startup Academy, Crown 92 Social and Innovative Entrepreneurship, and it also hosts an Entrepreneurship and Innovation student club. See Crown profile story

Nada Miljković: Nada holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Project Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Purdue University. After twenty years of construction project management, Nada went back to school in 2007 and earned a Masters’ in Fine Arts, in the Digital Art and New Media Program at UCSC. She has been a Crown lecturer since 2015 and taught Crown 1, Crown 70 Broadcasting, Crown 79 (a pre-core class), Crown 90 Startup Academy, Crown 92 Social and Innovative Entrepreneurship, Business Assistance Internships and Crown 98 Digital Storytelling and Podcasting.

She also teaches entrepreneurship classes at the Stanford Precollegiate International Studies. She is the Chair Board of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz and Secretary of the Board Directors at United Services Agency. Nada is the co-founder of GetVirtual and is deeply knowledgeable and involved with the local entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

Toby Corey: The leading mentor and founder of GetVirtual, Toby Corey, has been inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurship as a lecturer at Stanford University for the past ten years. Prior to Stanford, Toby was a successful entrepreneur, co-founder, board member, and executive at Silicon Valley companies like SolarCity, Tesla and CruzFoam.

We believe student entrepreneurship, combined with forward-thinking mentorship, is the way forward and has the power to create a better tomorrow and help tackle our most vexing problems. We believe that we are building a community of student thinkers that can help get our planet, and all her inhabitants, back on a sustainable and more equitable track. We believe that harnessing our collective creative spirit for greater good is one way we can be great entrepreneurs. 

Santa Cruz City & County:

Through the leadership of Bonnie Lipscomb, the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Director, and Robert Singleton, Executive Director Santa Cruz County Business Council and partnership with GetVirtual, the program has received nearly 100 applications from local businesses. The students received $20,000 from the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Office and the opportunity to present to the City Council of Santa Cruz. The students presented to the Council on June 9, 2020 (see Presentations to SC City Council) and obtained $30,000, for a total of $50,000 to support student interns.

Currently, there are eight (8) students working as paid interns for the GetVirtual organization, all graduates of the Spring 20 prototype independent class. These students are being paid from the money they have raised. They are creating and implementing all the necessary documentation and tasks for running a startup including branding, marketing, developing processes, and best practices. They are doing the research and outreach with the goal to have 100 higher education institutions signed up by the end of April 2021.

In addition to the scaling of the organization, they are leading and managing teams on their specific client projects. 

Other universities:

Our goal is to export this model of student driven entrepreneurship to other colleges and universities. The students are working on expanding the program through outreach in the forms of onboarding, training, networking and mentoring current UCSC, CSUMB and University of Santa Clara students. They are also building the infrastructure to create a “turnkey document” that any College or University in the world can use to create their own GetVirtual chapter.



Giving Day Challenge Funds

Submitted by Emily Denning Todd, Associate Director of Digital & Annual Giving, Integrated Marketing

Sponsored by Linda Peterson

Approved Sept. 1, 2020


Giving Day is a 24-hour online fundraising drive to support UC Santa Cruz students, faculty, and campus programs. Participating groups raise money for their favorite programs by connecting with supporters and inspiring them to become donors. Due to the impact of COVID-19 Giving Day was moved from April 2020 to September 2020. In anticipation of budget cuts to all UC institutions, this year’s Giving Day will be more instrumental than ever in ensuring the success or even continuation of many of the projects proposed. Supporting this project during this unprecedented year will allow individual donors to focus on the projects they are most passionate about while the University uses Board Opportunity Funds to drive the success of the day using time-tested “Challenges” that create a greater sense of urgency necessary for a Giving Day event.

One of the biggest drivers and incentives for participating teams on Giving Day are “Challenges”. Challenges, funded by the Giving Day Challenge Fund, create fun competition between project teams and are additional opportunities to raise bonus funds. The project that has the most unique donors in a specified time period is awarded bonus dollars. Even if a group does not win Challenge funds, these competitions drive the fundraising success for all teams during those time periods as the teams leverage them to encourage more support. 

The number of Challenges and Challenge time slots are determined by the amount of funding received for the Giving Day Challenge Fund. Our team hopes that the BOF can provide funding to cover the “Mad Dash” and the “Final Frenzy” challenges—totaling $26,000 and having a large impact on the day.


Giving Day Challenges create an exciting incentive for donors to help participating teams receive additional funding. During active Challenges, donations spike, as demonstrated by Contributions to the Giving Day Challenge Fund are the most powerful kind of donation during Giving Day. Challenge Fund gifts encourage others to give and increase the overall success of the day.

Amount funded: $10,000 

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Any UC Santa Cruz campus group and/or affiliate with a valid UC Santa Cruz account is permitted to participate in Giving Day. Currently, 164 different campus communicates are registered to participate. University Relations and Communications/Marketing staff support the success and promotion of Giving Day.



Pajaro River Levee Barn Owl Project: Increasing Student Field Opportunities and Agricultural Partnerships through Integrated Pest Management Research

Submitted by Zena Glucs, Predatory Bird Research Group Director/Academic Coordinator

Sponsored by Kathleen Rose

Approved Jan. 4, 2021


In November 2019 we began a pilot project with the Zone 7 Flood Control District of Santa Cruz County to observe whether the installation of barn owl nest boxes and raptor perches could augment existing burrowing rodent control efforts on the upper reach of the Pajaro River in Watsonville, California (see study area map below). We are seeking funds from the UCSC Foundation to help us level up this project in 2021 to increase our impact on the UCSC and local community, as well as improve our eligibility for larger grants for vertebrate pest control research.

We are seeking 2021 funding for the following major activities:

  • Continue our 2020 Pajaro River Levee Pilot Study through 2021: monitoring owl use of artificial nest boxes, prey analysis, and rodent burrow damage on the upper reach of the Pajaro River.
  • Expand our existing Pajaro River Levee Pilot Study to incorporate GIS tracking of barn owls foraging on neighboring agricultural land.
  • Construct additional owl boxes and raptor perches on agricultural properties in the Pajaro to establish controlled study plots for economic feasibility studies of native raptor recruitment (barn owls and hawks) for rodent control in row crops and orchards.
  • Conduct outreach with Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County, and Monterey County communities through mailers, virtual meetings, and “field days” where land managers can learn about the benefits of barn owl boxes and raptor perches.
  • Train and employ undergraduates in local applied conservation research.
  • Establish first PBRG internship for local indigenous youth.


  • Train and employ undergraduate students in local applied conservation research.
    • Hire 3 undergraduate students to lead research and outreach activities
    • Train up to 3 additional local students to assist in burrow and raptor surveys as part of for-credit internships with the Predatory Bird Research Group and the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz
    • Establish scholarship for first indigenous youth Internship
  • Collect critical data on raptor foraging and burrowing rodent damage after barn owl box and raptor perch installation in the Pajaro Valley
    • Two 2021 burrow surveys by undergraduate students and citizen scientists.
    • Conduct ongoing raptor surveys of study transect and owl box monitoring in 2021 (Winter, Spring and Summer Quarters)
    • Analyze owl pellets collected in 2020-2021 for prey analysis and rodenticide exposure.
  • Expand our understanding of the ag benefits of owl boxes placed on county flood infrastructure from GPS tracking of foraging movements.
    • Place transmitters on 1-2 adult owls to log their foraging movements through breeding season.
  • Share results with regional ag community
    • Conduct at least 2 in-person outdoor field days or virtual presentations for local agricultural organizations (Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties).

Amount funded: $10,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Zone 7 Flood Control and Water Conservation District, contact: Rusty Barker

Native Animal Rescue, contact: Mark Schleicher

Ken Norris Center for Natural History, contact: Chris Lay

Watsonville Wetlands Watch, contact: Emily Howard

Raptors Are The Solution, contact: Lisa Owens Viani

Hull Lab, UC Davis, contact Dr. Joshua Hull

Kanyon Konsulting, LLC, Kanyon CoyoteWoman Sayers-Roods



Bringing the CASFS Farm and Garden Education Online

Submitted by Stacy Philpott 

Sponsored by Kathleen Rose

Approved Feb. 6, 2021


The UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) has a unique opportunity to greatly increase the reach and impact of our educational programming by expanding remote and online instruction. The goal of this project is to bring our field-based and garden-based teaching online in order to increase knowledge and use of agroecological growing methods and to create a more sustainable food system. This project will leverage 50-years of teaching experience at the CASFS Farm and Garden, the new Agroecology major, the presence of the first UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in Organic Production at UCSC, and our successful Basic Needs work.

While Covid-19 restrictions have kept our sites closed to in-person education for the many audiences CASFS typically serves, our staff has started bringing teaching from these sites online. A remote internship this fall and winter quarter has brought teaching from the Farm, Garden, and Cowell Coffee Shop to over 60 students through video and zoom. The ENVS 133 Agroecology Practicum has weekly remote classes for students with content from the Farm and Garden sites and instructors. Public gardening workshops on zoom have attracted 100 to 300 attendees each, combining slides and video clips to teach topics from cover cropping and seed starting, to fruit tree planting and pruning.

We seek to formalize these efforts in an integrated approach to online and remote learning that will include planning content, curriculum, and delivery to produce a quality online teaching toolkit that can be used for years to come. Specific objectives include:

  • Producing a series of teaching videos capturing the core garden- and field-based demonstrations, as well as “follow the crop through the season” videos for use in short courses, undergraduate classes, internships, and public workshops, as well as stand-alone videos for farmers and gardeners.
  • Creating an online learning center with the new videos and existing content from other instructional materials. The creation of this online learning center would also serve future CASFS visitors in the Hay Barn and on self-guided tours as we create new signage containing QR codes linked to short videos.

We are planning a full season of filming while we have no in-person audiences and can have our instructors prepare and present effective demonstrations of core skills and concepts for the camera. Some filming will be done by student videographers but much of the filming and video production will be done and guided by professional video producer, Jim Clark. Clark created three prototype videos with CASFS in the past with funding from the Board Opportunity Fund ($8,700, 2014). The three videos (Organic Weed Management, Preparing Garden Beds, Organic Pepper Production) are still actively used on the CASFS YouTube channel and have over half a million combined views. Our experience with this video producer was integral to our decision to plan this project with his guidance and excellent production skills. 

Instructors are working with the videographers on prioritizing content, sequencing the garden- and field-based demonstrations, and shooting initial videos. We are planning for a full year of filming and the development of the online learning center, while also providing ongoing instruction using the videos to students and the general public through classes, internships, short courses and workshops online.

We are seeking funding from the UCSC Board Opportunity Fund for the initial months of this project, allowing us to film and provide online and remote education this winter and spring while continuing to fundraise for a full season of filming and the production of the online learning center. A promotional video for this project can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/491830824 .


This project will directly serve the CASFS mission by increasing and improving knowledge about and application of organic and sustainable gardening and small-scale farming methods and concepts. Specifically, the project will have the following outcomes: (1) increasing access and reaching new audiences for agroecological farming and gardening instruction and (2) increasing knowledge of specific skills and concepts of sustainable and organic growing methods.

Our educational programming employs different assessment tools for different audiences for evaluation of outcomes. Pre- and post- assessments for students and short course participants will aid with evaluation of online and remote learning. A post-workshop survey will also be sent to public workshop participants.

The outcome of increasing access to CASFS education will be accomplished in part through a broad outreach campaign, reaching audiences not previously reached by CASFS. We work statewide with other UC campuses and nationally we are connected with networks including the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. In our region, we work with the Central Coast Farmer Educator Network (a network of ~10 regional organizations). We will be providing free video content broadly through our website and YouTube channel, providing Spanish translation for some videos, and closed captioning on all. We use eScholarship and Google Analytics to track publications usage and track YouTube views per video.

Amount funded: $20,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Under the supervision of CASFS Director, Professor Stacy Philpott, CASFS staff will provide content for instructional videos and will carry out remote and online learning for students, short course participants, apprentices, and the general public. For Spanish translation we would look to past partners like Community Agroecology Network (CAN), and Jose Montenegro or others associated with Agricultural Land Based Training Association (ALBA).


IDEA Hub – Startup pitch contest 

Submitted by Mothusi Pahl 

Sponsored by Stephen Bruce

Approved: May 27, 2021


IDEA Hub is the largest startup pitch competition of the UC Santa Cruz academic year. 2021 is IDEA Hub’s 5th consecutive year as a forum and sounding board for many of the University’s top founding teams to share their ideas.


To increase visibility and awareness around the campus innovation and entrepreneurship community. Having a notable prize purse will increase organic word-of-mouth between students and drive participation in activities throughout the year.

2020 IDEA Hub applications received (actuals): 15

2021 IDEA Hub applications target: 25

2022 IDEA Hub applications target: 35

IDEA Hub is the largest startup pitch competition of the UC Santa Cruz academic year. Hosted by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development and co-sponsored by Santa Cruz Works, 2021 is IDEA Hub’s 5th consecutive year as a forum and sounding board for many of the University’s top founding teams to share their ideas.

Amount funded: A conditional award of $10,000 over two years: a $5,000 grant award in 2021; and an award of $5,000 in the 2021–2022 academic year pending review and approval of a new application that includes an evaluation of the successes and areas for improvement of the startup pitch competition approach in the 2020–2021 academic year.

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Hosted by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development and co-sponsored by Santa Cruz Works, IDEA Hub 2021 is being co-marketed by UCSC’s program managers for: CITRIS, the Everett Program, iCorps, Crown 92, and S-lab.