So often in the world of business IT, discussions revolve around speeds and feeds, return on investment and total cost of ownership. But often, the real story is about the people who put their heart and soul into making their companies successful, and their passion for the technology they use to make that happen.
For Paul Valentino and Tim Oudin, the story starts with a conversation at a conference. The two were discussing an attendee at the event who was able to be there only through the generosity of friends and family who paid his way.
“For someone who’s trying to break into the industry and who’s not working at a senior-level engineer position, that can be hard to scrape up,” says Oudin, who runs a technology consulting firm.
That realization led the two to a big idea. What if they could encourage technology careers by providing those in need of funding for training with access to the resources they need to get started? From that idea was born vCommunity Trust, a nonprofit organization that offers free training to those working on virtualization certifications so they can start or strengthen careers in the IT field.
Valentino, who is an enterprise infrastructure architect at a student loan guarantor and the chairman of vCommunity Trust, is encouraged by the program’s potential and the reception they’ve gotten from the IT community. “It’s been an amazing experience to see a thought turn into something as well known as it is and see it grow,” he says. For more about the vCommunity Trust program, turn to “Community Support.” 
In addition to the training and funding provided by nonprofits such as vCommunity Trust, incubator programs are also encouraging innovation by helping startup companies get off the ground. For example, 1871, a small-business incubator in Chicago, has 50,000 square feet of office space in the downtown Merchandise Mart that it is using to provide fledgling companies and their leaders with low-cost rental space, educational seminars, advisers and networking opportunities.
“The big difference between what others have done around the country and what we’re doing here is this is a nonprofit, an economic development tool,” explains Kevin Willer, president and CEO of the nonprofit Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which operates 1871.
To learn more about 1871 and how it’s helping to support emerging startups, turn to “Growth Spurt. ”