Great teachers make a difference in their students’ lives. But not all leave such a strong impression that former students go to the lengths to create a fund in the instructor’s name. Alumni of the University of Colorado Law School Venture Capital and Private Equity course have done just that.
To honor adjunct professor Jason Mendelson, alumni created a fund in Mendelson’s name. Mendelson is in his ninth year co-teaching the graduate-level class at CU Boulder, which attracts law students, MBAs, and engineers. The new fund, called the Jason Mendelson Entrepreneurial Award Fund, recognizes Mendelson’s impact in the classroom, on campus, and in the entrepreneurial community. In addition to teaching the Venture Capital class on campus, Mendelson coaches the Venture Capital Investment Competition, and judges the finals of the New Venture Challenge, a cross-campus program for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“It’s really quite remarkable the extent to which Jason volunteers, every year, what little free time he has to impart his wisdom to the VC class, the VCIC team, and the NVC,” said Chris Kaffer, one of the fund’s organizers. “We wanted to recognize Jason for being the incredible teacher and mentor that he is.”
The Jason Mendelson Entrepreneurial Award Fund has formed with $50,000 from contributions by former students and a matching gift from a community organization. The fund is managed by the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, which supports entrepreneurship as a core part of its mission. The fund will provide cash awards, scholarships, or stipends to students enrolled at CU Boulder who demonstrate excellence in the field of entrepreneurship.
The fund is slated to give a $10,000 gift to the CU New Venture Challenge in 2017 and will continue to give to entrepreneurial activities at CU Boulder. In past years, Jason wrote a personal check at the CU New Venture Challenge championships to supplement the prize money available to the winners.
“We hope that the Jason Mendelson Entrepreneurial Award Fund will help those who, like Jason, have a passion for entrepreneurship and who selflessly strive to improve Boulder’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by giving first,” Kaffer said.
“Jason’s teaching is transformative for many students,” said Colorado Law professor Brad Bernthal, who co-teaches the Venture Capital class with Mendelson. “He has a remarkable ability to teach people how to be effective in entrepreneurial and innovation environments.”
Mendelson has more than 15 years’ experience in the venture capital and technology industries in a multitude of investing, operational and engineering roles. He is a co-founder and managing director with the Foundry Group, a Boulder-based venture capital fund, and he chairs Silicon Flatirons’ Entrepreneurial Advisory Board.