Start Up: Cohort graduates

Start Up: Cohort graduates
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NEWS & Events

Start Up: Cohort graduates

The December graduates presented business plans with new visions for local food and beverage services, wellness practitioners, landscape designers, retail, and more. Mercy Connections is now accepting applications for the upcoming class: January 25-May 11, 2023.


One by one, the faces popped up into the black boxes on the computer screen.

Claire Wheeler, Mercy Connections Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship, welcomed each new arrival with warmth and cheer. The 14 students, along with their family and friends, had gathered in this virtual space to celebrate their Start Up graduation.

The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the students’ business plans, the culmination of their 16 weeks of work in Mercy Connections’ signature business program – a supportive, inclusive semester-long online course that is a deep dive into business planning.

“You showed up with curiosity, generosity, and vulnerability,” Wheeler said to the students. “You’ve proven it to us, but more importantly, you’ve proven it to yourselves.”

The December graduates presented business plans with new visions for local food and beverage services, wellness practitioners, landscape designers, retail, and more.

The course helps women+ gain knowledge and build skills critical to having a successful business. The cohort model program runs twice a year; Mercy Connections is now accepting applications for the upcoming class: January 25-May 11, 2023.

Start Up transformed into a virtual program during the pandemic. Going virtual has expanded Start Up’s reach, allowing for students to participate from around the state. The course also has additional online enrichment, including self-guided content and videos for review.

Mercy Connections takes a wholistic, trauma-informed approach to teaching Start Up. Our program is “weaved with the Mercy philosophy; values and community are integrated,” Wheeler said.

The curriculum covers the fundamentals of three content areas in depth: Marketing, Finance, and Business Operations, and is taught by a team of instructors who are also business owners.

Marketing instructor Ashley Sandy noted the ups and downs of developing a business plan, comparing the experience with that of riding a roller coaster. “But roller coasters are much more fun when riding with your friends,” she said of the program’s cohort model.

The tuition for the course is $2,500; mandatory fees include the $25 application fee and a $65 license fee for a dedicated LivePlan account for six months. Mercy Connections partners with the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to offer Advancement Grants to cover the cost of tuition for income-eligible students; internal scholarships and flexible interest-free payment plans are also available to make the cost of the class accessible to everyone.


More News & Events

Mercy Marketplace returns

Shop online or in person this year. Find holiday gifts for everyone on your list and support local artisans, too. All proceeds directly support participants in the Mercy Marketplace vendor-training class.

Mercy Marketplace at ONE Market

The makers of Mercy Marketplace, a program designed to help participants sell their wares, took part in the World Market as part of the Old North End (ONE) RAMBLE Festival on July 30th, 2022. They sold books, cards, original artwork, pottery, homemade food, and more.

Mercy Connections’ Founders, Sisters of Mercy of Vermont, Honored at Annual Event

At the organization’s annual celebration on June 7th, the Sisters of Mercy were honored for their service to Vermont, including teaching and administering in schools and parishes across the state, serving on boards and in leadership positions for state agencies and non-profit service organizations, and for the founding of Mercy Connections.

Pens & Pages – back in person!

Our Pens & Pages Class has returned in person! The class itself has been offered and up and running on Zoom for the past two years. We first transitioned to online in March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic shutdown. Now, as we more fully reopen as an organization, we welcome back our students to in-person study.