Merrimack Valley Sandbox
The Deshpande Foundation launched the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative in December of 2010. This initiative was created to build up the innovation ecosystem in the Merrimack Valley through partnerships that promote innovation and entrepreneurship in business, higher education and the community.
The sandbox’s first pilot program, Campus Catalyst was launched in January of 2011 in partnership with UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Merrimack College, and Northern Essex Community College.
This program started as an opportunity for college students to roll up their sleeves, take risks and embark into new and refreshing adventures. During the first year over 100 college students participated and worked on projects that focused on addressing social challenges and sparking new economic development in the Merrimack Valley. Projects ranged from social or environmental changes to innovative technologies. Jared Blake, an MCC student, won first place with his www.givebacktime.org volunteer site.
Based on the success of Campus Catalyst, in the fall of 2011 the Community Catalyst Program was launched with the help of local community based organizations and high school partners in order to provide youth from ages 14 to 24 with the opportunity to try out entrepreneurial ideas. During the first year of Community Catalyst over 50 youth worked in their projects and over 200 youth learned Entrepreneurship Education.
In January 2013 student Rion Manita and Dean Dona Cady joined with members of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox to participate in the Deshpande Development Dialogue in Hubli, India.