The William and Nancy Yarger Entrepreneurial Support Fund was created in 2013 by William and Nancy Yarger to promote professional development in Illinois State students and turn their business ideas into reality.
The Yargers graduated from Illinois State in 1969 and went on to become co-owners of The Alamo II for 35 years. The store has since become a campus destination for textbooks, supplies and Redbird merchandise. No stranger to the challenges of running and operating a business, William and Nancy wanted to provide students with the means to pursue their dreams of creating their own business.
The award is available to all students who demonstrate a viable business model and possess the initiative and passion to make their business thrive. Mark Hoelscher is director of the George R. and Martha Means Center, which is devoted to creating and implementing support programs for Illinois State students. Hoelscher has repeatedly seen the importance of having funds available to help students move to the next step in their businesses, supplying them with the resources to garner tools and work space.
“The cost of higher education is shifting away from the states,” Hoelscher said. “The burden of higher education is moving to students and parents. Because of that, we rely more and more on people like William and Nancy to offset that cost through their generosity.”
Donor support creates similar opportunities across campus for students to soar by tackling real-world initiatives. Such experiential learning would not be possible without private funding, which gave Rob Martin a competitive advantage.
Martin ’12, M.S.’13, graduated from Illinois State with a bachelor’s in engineering technology and renewable energy and a master’s in project management. He is a recipient of the Yarger fund and creator of Open Source Classroom LLC, a Bloomington business dedicated to providing workshops to teachers about 3-D printers and other open source technologies.
After receiving money from the fund, Martin was able to purchase more office space, workbenches, and tools that allowed him to grow his business. Since the beginning of 2015, Martin more than doubled the number of workshops he provided to teachers in all of 2014, and his Maker Space has expanded to nearly five times its original size.
“You have to be willing to fall on your face,” Martin said. “When this happens you have to get up, dust yourself off and keep going.”
Martin has the confidence and, with the support of the Yargers, has the means to fulfill his dreams.