The Commons

For Hipsters, Hackers, Hustlers, and Handlers!

Students from any Northeast Ohio college or university are invited to participate in The Commons Innovation SeriesNo cost to students to participate.

Different skills sets wanted:

  • Hackers – technical and engineering folks of all types
  • Hipsters – designers, artists and creatives
  • Hustlers – sales, marketing, finance and business
  • Handlers – project coordinators, organizers and team leaders

Stay tuned for details on new programming or contact

The Commons Program is designed to attract, develop, and retain talented and motivated minds by blending career and innovation skills with mentoring professionals to give students a truly unique, real-world experience. The program is a collaboration with area colleges and universities, mentors, and innovative local businesses and focuses on engaging university students of ANY major and ANY year in school and is open to any current (or recent) student of any age or discipline.

  • Opportunity to work on a team with students from other universities.
  • Feature local business, community, and entrepreneurial leaders.
  • Local businesses providing mentors.

About The Commons

The Commons started in Milwaukee, WI, and crafts unique, real-world experiences that allow students to work on innovation challenges. Students are given the opportunity to apply their skills, build their networks and create something new. At the end of the day, the program is not about project work or final deliverables; it’s about talent and career development. The projects and overall process push students to develop skills needed for an entrepreneurial mindset: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical-thinking, confidence, flexibility, persistence, curiosity, risk-taking and focus. The diverse teams, mentor interactions and community support changes their perceptions of the region and help students establish roots.

EDGE is partnering with The Commons in Milwaukee to bring students a unique opportunity to work on real innovation challenges with NE Ohio and Milwaukee area companies and other students.  EDGE is working community leaders and leaders from area schools to establish an innovation network.  Current partners include: The University of Akron, Kent State University, Stark State College, Walsh University, The College of Wooster, Ursuline College, Baldwin Wallace University, John Carroll University, Hiram College, Case Western Reserve University, Youngstown State University and Ashland University.  (All students and from all universities are welcome to participate!)

Special thanks to our sponsors: The Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio and The RJ Fasenmyer Fund.

To put it simply: The Commons has proven that great talent is more likely to seek local opportunities when they can meet cool people and work on cool projects.

Pilot Programs in Akron

EDGE completed three pilot Commons Akron programs – each of which spanned several weeks with in-person sessions at the beginning and end.  Company leaders and mentors are assigned to teams of students around an innovation challenge followed by several weeks of a team work on challenges, and concluded with a Presentation Day where teams solidified their findings to mentors, companies and community leaders.

Topics addressed include: Team Building, Market Research, Customer Discovery, Product Ideation and Development, Peer and Advisory Review, Business Model and Sales, Presentation Design and Delivery.

Many thanks to those companies that have participated in the pilot program thus far, including Akron Children’s Hospital, Consolidus, FinMango, First Energy, Goodyear, Main Street Gourmet, Moen, The J.M. Smucker Company, Timken, mentors and community leaders.  Stay tuned!

Questions? Contact Chris Keller,

Program Successes:

After working with well over 2,000 students over 20+ cohorts in the Milwaukee area, results include:

  • 90% of participants feel more connected to the professional community
  • Over 80% of participants are more likely to seek a job in the region
  • Diverse student cohorts – nearly 1:1 male-to-female ratio; 35% students of color; 25% first generation students.
  • A network of over 700+ mentoring professionals from a variety of backgrounds
  • A growing and active network of academic, business and community partners
  • 500+ collegiate and high school campus liaisons; over 50 corporate and civic partners
  • 3,000+ collegiate and high school participants of various programming (inclusive of all programming)
  • 20+ schools offering academic credit for the Entrepreneurial Skills Accelerator