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DePaul Celebrates 1871 Membership Anniversary

In July, DePaul University will celebrate its one-year anniversary as a member of 1871, the hub for Chicago’s thriving digital startup community. 

The membership is a collaboration between the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center (CEC) in the Driehaus College of Business and other schools across campus.  It offers students, recent alumni and faculty opportunities to use DePaul’s dedicated office space, mingle with other entrepreneurs and participate in programming at 1871. Over the past year, the DePaul office space has been used by students and faculty from each of the 10 colleges across the university. 

“The goal of our membership at 1871 is for our DePaul students to have access to the startup community in Chicago,” says Bruce Leech, executive director of the CEC. “Connecting our students, faculty and alumni to that ecosystem is our top priority. They have access to 1871’s amazing lineup of daily workshops, internship opportunities and resources to make legal, business, accounting, marketing and venture capital contacts.” ​

The CEC serves as an entrepreneurial hub for DePaul and the surrounding business community. The center is a place where students and alumni can find real-world guidance on starting or growing a business, where startups and other companies can find employees and interns, and where seasoned entrepreneurs can connect and mentor DePaul student entrepreneurs as they launch new business ventures.

As an added benefit of the membership, the CEC has been able to share 1871 resources on DePaul’s campus. “We have a tremendous extension of the programs from 1871,” says Leech. “The CEC has been able to vet speakers and resources from 1871 and bring them to DePaul to meet our students on their own turf and bring real world experience into our classrooms.”

DePaul has hosted and participated in numerous events at 1871’s Merchandise Mart location since joining, including:

  • The Entrepreneurship Symposium at 1871. This event featured keynote speaker Jeff Hoffman, founder of, who gave a speech on making the world a better place by unleashing an army of entrepreneurs. A panel of four entrepreneurs with DePaul ties also discussed how to start a business, lessons learned and things they would do differently if they could start over. 
  • Campus 1871. This weekend-long event brought together 20 students from 1871-partner universities to create their own startups. It was an immersive collaboration where students were put on teams with participants from different universities to create viable business models and design companies that provide meaningful solutions for problems in the world today. 
  • Purpose Pitch Competition. This new venture competition sponsored by the CEC challenged student startup entrepreneurs to pitch purpose-driven business ideas. Competing among more than 100 entrants, the final four startups vied for $25,000 in prize money by presenting their business plans and purpose to a panel of local entrepreneurs. The winner of the competition was EarlyVention, an organization that designs comprehensive activity boxes with visual, sensory and interactive components for children with autism and special needs. 
“All of these events were terrific and we will continue to participate in them in the future,” says Leech. “Campus 1871 was my favorite event because the energy level from the students competing with other colleges was inspiring. Our students were knocking it out of the park, and it brought a tear to my eye.” Leech also noted that DePaul had 80 students apply for Campus 1871—more than any other university.

Leech hopes that in the next year more students, alumni and faculty members will take advantage of what 1871 can offer. One of his goals is to bring more faculty members to 1871 by hosting workshops and being a valuable resource to their members.

“We are connecting DePaul to the startup community like never before,” says Leech. “Our alums are becoming mentors, we are partnering students up with entrepreneurs as interns this summer, and we are hosting quality programming throughout the year. This has been a wonderful partnership and I look forward to what the future brings.”

Students from every college across DePaul University are welcome to apply to reserve work space in the 1871 DePaul office. Recent DePaul alumni also have access to 1871 up to six months after their graduation date. To get approved, apply for access to the 1871 DePaul office through this link