Julie Sanchez, NIIC Breakthrough Program Manager (shown on left)

You can be an entrepreneur.
Yes, you.

Apply for Support Brochure FAQ Contact

The Connected Communities Breakthrough Program serves under-represented business builders in Allen County, Indiana. We work with community-based entrepreneurship to catalyze talent in underserved markets and increase entrepreneurial activity.

This program can serve as a gateway to economic prosperity and social well-being. Connected Communities serves potential-currently-unreached entrepreneurs.

Due to generous funding of Foellinger Foundation, there is no cost to you to participate in the program.

If this sounds like you, our Breakthrough Program may be for you.

What do we offer?

Breakthrough offers a very interactive and self-paced online learning experience to prepare potential business builders for their likely entrepreneurial journey. Throughout the entrepreneurial journey, the business builder will have access to tools to increase their self-awareness and self-management coupled with proven tool and resources.

The typical journey through the eight paths should take between 3-6 months depending on the participant and the current status of their idea. The program is cumulative and each path builds upon the learnings from prior completed paths. Opportunities to practice, experiment, to engage in peer to peer sharing and to conduct field work will enhance the participant’s individualized entrepreneurial journey.

Course Experience Description
Path 1: Awareness This module provides an introduction to entrepreneurship and what it is like to start a new business. Particular attention is given to the importance of how entrepreneurs think, a growth mindset, and common characteristics associated with successful entrepreneurs.
Path 2: Interest This module focuses on the varied and numerous roles required of entrepreneurs. Common skills necessary for new business success are described. Other key topics include sources of opportunities, idea(s) on a napkin, and common causes of new business failure.
Path 3: Engagement This module provides the foundation for the entrepreneur’s engagement with the startup business – the value proposition. Key topics include how value is viewed from the customer’s perspective, how value can be created, and the design of the value proposition statement.
Path 4: Commitment This module offers the committed entrepreneur with insights into the roles and importance of effective research in building a business. Types of research techniques are identified, including common methods of data collection and the importance of asking the right questions.
Path 5: Feasibility This module provides the entrepreneur with the foundations to better understand problems and to be better equipped to handle them. Key practices include problem identification, problem validation, and problem-solution fit.
Path 6: Realization This module introduces the concept of the Lean Canvas as a tool to quickly define a business model for an existing startup business idea. Key topics in these sessions include the modern business startup process, the components of the Lean Canvas, and applications for startup business builders.
Path 7: Financing This module provides a summary of primary financial areas of importance to the entrepreneur: Revenues, Costs, and Capital. Attention is given to the topics of revenue streams, common business costs, and identifying sources of funding for the startup business.
Path 8: Thrive This module highlights some of the strategy initiatives that are vital to startup business ventures and their sustainability. Specific attention is given to primary functional areas of any business, including branding, business growth, efficient operations, the funding pitch deck, marketing & sales, and mentors.

Service Offerings

  • One-to-one coaching sessions
  • Training workshops
  • Resource connections
  • Capital connections, training and advising (key to microfinancing)
  • NIIC Navigator(r) Online Training and support

Next Steps


  • The Connected Communities program is funded in part through a grant from the Foellinger Foundation.
  • Additional funding and resources are provided by host organization The NIIC.



Enter search term...

close ×

REIMAGINE: Survive and Thrive During COVID-19

Browse our new digital guide for strategies and resources

Read Now