Close School’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebrates A Decade Of Entrepreneurial Excellence

A remarkable celebration of a decade of entrepreneurial excellence was had at the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship’s Ten Year Anniversary. The elegant Mansion in Bryn Mawr venue, graciously provided by Bryan Rishforth,, set the stage for a sophisticated ambiance and delectable cuisine that delighted all attendees. As the evening unfolded, influential speakers, including President John Fry, Dean Donna De Carolis, Evan Ehlers, and Bryan Rishforth, shared their experiences and visions, highlighting the Close School’s profound impact on entrepreneurship education and the transformation of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“This is the ‘Why’ of the Close School. Because ideas are just ideas without people to bring them to life. And that is what we focus on at the Close School.”

Donna De Carolis

Spotlighting Close School’s Serial Entrepreneur Student #1

Evan Ehlers, recognized as Close School’s  “serial entrepreneur student #1,” took center stage, captivating the audience with his inspirational journey. Evan’s transformative experience began with a simple act of kindness during his student days when he utilized his extra meal plan swipes to feed the homeless. This compassionate gesture and the Close School became the catalyst for his transformation from a student with an idea to a purpose-driven entrepreneur on a path of innovation and impact. 

“The Close School gave me fertile ground to grow. They pushed me to start something. They pushed me to start somewhere. And simply because of that (entrepreneurship and SharingExess) became my everything…The Close School doesn’t just impact the lives of its students, but positively impacts the lives of the people that are impacted by the businesses they start. And that is a beautiful ripple effect.”

Evan Ehlers, Sharing Excess Founder

Reflecting on his journey, Evan shared his personal growth and the challenges he faced, emphasizing the support and guidance he received from the Close School and its vitalness for his and other students’ entrepreneurship journeys.

Transforming Philadelphia’s Entrepreneurial Landscape

John Fry, the innovative president of Drexel University, took the stage, recounting the remarkable journey of Drexel University and the Close School in shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Philadelphia. He reminisced about his first encounter with Dean Donna De Carolis, the visionary behind the Close School, who presented an idea that would distinguish Drexel as a leader in entrepreneurship education and work as a catalyst for the elevation of Philadelphia to a leading entrepreneurship hub. Fry praised Donna’s vision and determination, highlighting the significant impact the Close School has had on enhancing and transforming the entrepreneurial landscape.

“Donna’s unwavering vision and her determination to create a dedicated entrepreneurial school at Drexel have proven to be transformative. The Close School has not only nurtured budding entrepreneurs but has also elevated the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in Philadelphia.”

John Fry, President of Drexel University

Innovative Vision: Innovation Hall

Donna De Carolis, the driving force behind the Close School, took the opportunity to express her heartfelt appreciation to the board members and the remarkable team at Close School for their unwavering support. She touched upon the mission of the Close School and then unveiled a groundbreaking initiative, Innovation Hall, which would bring the entrepreneurial hub at Drexel closer to students.

“Innovation Hall represents our commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among Drexel students. It will be a dynamic space where students can explore, collaborate, and turn their ideas into impactful ventures. We are creating an environment that empowers the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Donna De Carolis, Dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

To be located on the first floor of Pearlstein, Innovation Hall would serve as an active center for entrepreneurship, providing all Drexel students with easy access to engage with startup ventures and immerse themselves in the entrepreneurial world.

The Future of Entrepreneurial Education

Bryan Rishforth, the generous venue host of the event, returned to the stage to share exciting news that electrified the audience. He announced that Innovation Hall would become a reality sooner than anticipated, thanks to a $100,000 donation he pledged to kickstart the project. 

“Innovation Hall is an investment in the future of entrepreneurship at Drexel. By pledging this donation and offering a matching program, we are creating a collaborative environment where students can unleash their entrepreneurial potential and drive the future.”

Bryan Rishforth, Executive Chairmen at Graphite GTC

Rishforth also unveiled a remarkable matching program, offering to match 20% of the next $250,000 donations reached. This initiative ignited enthusiasm and inspired the audience to actively participate in the success of building the Innovation Hall at The Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.

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This year's event was a grand hub of entrepreneurial energy and demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of Drexel.

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