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Crystal German, Vice President of Minority Business Accelerator and Economic Inclusion for Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber To Speak at Rutgers Business School Symposium on #UrbanInnovation            

             The Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute are working together to highlight and explore urban innovation that leads to turban transformation. Funded by the Surdna Foundation (, the ultimate goal of the Best Practices in Urban Innovation (BPUI) Project is to shift the national discourse on urban areas away from problem identification and towards problem solving. By focusing on best practices in urban innovation, we can bring attention to what is working and discuss the process for scaling up these solutions to practitioners in other urban areas. 

            We define urban innovation as a break from common practice to develop long lasting transformations in their communities, neighborhoods, and cities. 

            On June 10, we will hold a symposium that and presents the National Urban Innovation Report and highlights eight (8) case studies of innovative organizations that are having a significant impact on economic opportunity.  This list of case studies is below. 

Cincinnati Minority Business (Cincinnati, OH)

The Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) was established in 2003 as the result of the recommendations of the Cincinnati Community Action Now Commission. The program is focused on reducing disparity in the region's business community by driving economic activity for African-American and Hispanic-owned companies and increasing employment in underemployed segments of the region. 


Defy Ventures (New York, NY)

Harnesses the natural talents of formerly incarcerated individuals and redirect them toward the creation of profitable and legal business ventures. Defy offers a suite of services that includes intensive personal and leadership development, competition-based entrepreneurship training, executive mentoring, financial investment, and business incubation.


Mission Asset Fund (San Francisco, CA)

This first-of-a-kind social loan program rapidly proved its ability to help people open bank accounts, avoid predatory lenders, and quickly and safely build their credit history.


New Classrooms (New York, NY)

Design new instructional models that reimagine the role of educators, the use of time, the configuration of physical space, and the use of data and technology to better meet the needs of each student.


Recycle Force (Indianapolis, IN)

Recycle Force, a 501(c) 3 organization, is a social enterprise offering some of the most comprehensive and innovative recycling services around while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals.


San Francisco Conservation Corps (San Francisco, CA)

SFCC offers young adults the opportunity to earn a high school diploma while gaining marketable job skills. The young men and women who enter the Corps often have little or no experience in the working world. They are eager for the training; support and education that they know can open doors for them and their families. Many Corps members live in the poorest San Francisco communities and join the Corps to build a better San Francisco, and a new life.


Sustainable Economies Law Center (Oakland, CA)

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) develops legal expertise that provides a foundation for the new economy to grow. SELC focuses on key interventions that will enable the widespread creation of new economic models, ranging from co-op models, social enterprise, and provides direct legal support to communities including the drafting relevant new legislation in city and state legislative bodies.


Case Study of Scaling Up Solutions that Work

Center for Employment Opportunities (New York, Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton, and Rochester New York; Oakland, San Bernardino and San Diego, CA; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK)

CEO offers comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records. CEO’s model is based on a highly structured program of life skill education, short-term paid transitional employment, full-time job placement and post-placement services.  This organization began its work in New York City and now is working in eight metropolitan areas.




Program for June 10 #UrbanInnovation Symposium


8:30 am


9:00 am


Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director, CUEED

Dean Lei Lei, Rutgers Business School

Dr. Roland Anglin,  Associate Chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark

Shawn Escoffrey, Surdna Foundation

9:20 am

Summary of The National Urban Innovation Report

Dr. Jeffrey Robinson, Academic Director, CUEED

9:55 am

Panel 1: Three Perspectives on Urban Innovation & the National Urban Innovation Report


Moderator: Roland Anglin, Executive Director, Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies



Randal Pinkett, NJPPRI/SCALE UP NJ

Clara Brenner, Founder of Tumml, an Urban Ventures Accelerator

Barbara George Johnson, Watson Institute for Public Policy & NJ Urban Mayors’ Association

10:45 am



Panel 2: Urban Innovation: National Case Studies


Moderator: Lawrence Hibbert, BCT Partners



Jose Quinonez, CEO, Mission Asset Fund

Crystal German, Executive Director, Cincinnati, Minority Business Accelerator

Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of Rutgers CUEED

12 noon

Luncheon - With Keynote

Keynote: The Honorable Ras J. Baraka, Mayor of the City of Newark



Panel 3: Urban Innovation: Local Case Studies



Barbara George Johnson, Watson Institute and NJ Urban Mayors Association



The Honorable Christine Dansereau, Mayor of the Borough of Roselle

Caleb Stratton, Principal Planner, City of Hoboken: 
Pamela B. Jones CEO, Communities In Cooperation
Gleshia Joyner Givens, Job Developer/Case Manager, Roselle First



Developing an Agenda for Urban Innovation in New Jersey and Beyond

Facilitated by Abby Straus, A. Straus and Associates



Closing Remarks






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