Program Enables Rising Entrepreneurs to Pursue an Education


Michael Grant ’14

In 2013, Saint Peter’s University signed a historic agreement with Rising Tide Capital (RTC), which enabled qualified graduates of RTC’s 12-week Community Business Academy (CBA) to receive up to six college credits through prior learning experience from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at Saint Peter’s. Rising Tide Capital is a non-profit organization based in Jersey City, N.J., dedicated to transforming lives and communities through entrepreneurship. Three entrepreneurs have since taken advantage of the opportunity to further their education by working towards an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

The CBA is an intensive course in basic business management and planning, where entrepreneurs gain hands-on familiarity with the fundamental concepts, tools and skills needed to plan and run a successful business. Michael Grant graduated from the CBA in 2009 and was the first graduate to take advantage of the partnership with Saint Peter’s. He previously obtained his associate’s degree, but decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “Something just kept telling me to go back to college. I used to take the bus right past Saint Peter’s University and something just told me to do it,” Grant said. He graduated from Saint Peter’s in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in urban studies.

The next student to come to Saint Peter’s from the CBA was Duval Brown. Brown took the Community Business Academy in 2007 to help grow his home-based travel agency, Travel & Tours Inc. He was looking for a new path and is currently pursuing a degree in elementary education at Saint Peter’s.


Duval Brown ’16

“I wanted to remap my life and see where I fit in society,” Brown said. “The opportunity came up two years ago when I was working for a non-profit teaching history and that sparked my interest.”

While studying at Saint Peter’s and working full-time, Duval still continues to work on his business. Although it has been challenging, he describes the six free credits as a blessing. Duval is scheduled to graduate in 2016 and is considering becoming a teacher or a social worker.

The latest Rising Tide entrepreneur to take advantage of this partnership is Ishea Neal. Neal began taking classes to obtain an associate’s degree in public policy to better serve her community through her business, What About Us?

“The six credits were the best thing that could ever happen to me,” Neal said. “Two of my mentors, Winston Trumpett and Dawn Niles, told me that in order to truly grow as an entrepreneur and help my community I would need to go back to school. Saint Peter’s University was recommended and once they realized I was a CBA graduate, they contacted Rising Tide Capital and the credits were immediately added.”

Applying the six free credits towards her degree, which is a value of $5,000, not only helped her save money, but will also allow her to graduate sooner. After she graduates, she plans to work towards completing a bachelor’s degree.

Born and raised in the Greenville section of Jersey City, Neal started her business with hopes of empowering local community members to make a difference in their lives. Through her business, What About Us?, she manages a daycare facility, mentors young girls and plans to host programs that empower adults. With her degree she hopes to learn more about making informed decisions to make local and global change.


Ishea Neal ’18

“I hope to be the change I want to see within my community. If people see me becoming a successful business owner, receiving my education and using it to make a positive difference in my hometown, I hope they will begin to do the same,” Neal added.

While the Rising Tide Capital and Saint Peter’s partnership has already been a success, representatives from both organizations hope it will continue to grow and flourish.

“We are proud to be a part of this pioneering initiative with our long-time partners at Rising Tide Capital and we are extremely pleased that the Community Business Academy students are beginning to take advantage of it,” said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University. “These entrepreneurs already play a significant role in the local economy in Hudson County, but this initiative provides them with an opportunity to increase their knowledge and enables them to make an even greater impact.”

To learn more about the initiative or the Community Business Academy, please click here.