CO.STARTERS Generator is an entrepreneurship training program for

middle school, high school, and college students in Southern Virginia.

CO.STARTERS Generator is a modular self-paced program that helps middle school, high school, and college students explore their passions through generating, testing, and launching ideas for businesses and social ventures. With the ability to participate individually or with a classroom or community group, CO.STARTERS Generator is a great way to inspire youth with the vision, enthusiasm, and tenacity needed to move from idea to action. 

Program Information

Program Format

The Generator program is highly flexible, with the goal of being accessible to students regardless of their individual time constraints or broadband access. 

Interactive, Self-Paced Content

The Generator online content is highly interactive – you’ll learn to develop a business model by doing it. Delivered through the Canvas learning management system, students can track their progress and interact on the discussion board. Students can choose to stream or download the content to a phone, tablet, or computer. Check out the video below for a sneak peek inside the online training content.

Live Zoom Coaching Sessions

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in live Zoom sessions with the lead program facilitator, Jacob Dolence, Faculty at Longwood University. For example, during the Fall 2021 Semester, Professor Dolence offered office hours for Generator participants on Mondays 1:00pm-3:00pm and Wednesdays 3:00-5:00pm.

Ways to Participate

Students may register and participate individually as an out-of-school, extracurricular experience. Individual participants are encouraged to team up with at least one other student to form a team. 

Students may also participate as part of school-based class or club or with a community-based group. If you are a teacher or community group leader interested in making Generator available to your students, you can register on behalf of your student group.

Important Program Dates

The Generator program is self-paced with rolling admission for each semester, so students can complete it on their own timeline. The content is designed to be completed in approximately 10 to 12 weeks, with a time commitment of approximately 2 to 3 hours per week. If a student does not complete the course by the target completion date, they can continue into the next session without starting over.

Spring 2022 Session

  • Registration is now closed 
  • Target completion date – March 31, 2023

Intro to Generator Workshops 

These virtual, interactive workshops are an optional opportunity to dive into the Generator curriculum before committing to the full program. See the CO.STARTERS Generator Workshop section below for more details.


Public school, private school, and home school students in middle and high school and college students in GO Virginia Region 3, which includes the following 15 localities, are eligible to participate in the Generator program: Halifax County, Mecklenburg County, Brunswick County, Lunenburg County, Charlotte County, Prince Edward County, Cumberland County, Buckingham County, Nottoway County, Amelia County, Pittsylvania County, Henry County, Patrick County, Danville, and Martinsville.

Students may participate individually or as part of class or community group (see Format for more information).

Benefits and Prizes for Participants

Every student who enrolls in the Generator will receive:

  • Generator Student Workbook
  • CO.STARTERS Canvas Poster
  • Generator Sticker
  • “I’m a Starter” Pen
  • Access to the online, self-paced course materials through the Canvas learning management system
  • Access to the course facilitators, via the course discussion board, email, and live Zoom coaching sessions
  • Introductions based on student interests to local entrepreneurs and businesses that could lead to job shadowing or mentorship opportunities

Every student who completes the Generator program will receive:

  • Certificate of Completion
  • RISE Collaborative T-shirt
  • RISE Collaborative Swag
  • Invitation to pitch at the annual RISE Youth Entrepreneurship Summit
  • Longwood University Application Fee Waiver and Swag bags!
  • Longwood Campus Tours hosted by Generator facilitators

It’s Free! 

  • The Generator program is free for public school, private school, and home school students in middle and high school and college students in GO Virginia Region 3, which includes these 15 localities: Halifax County, Mecklenburg County, Brunswick County, Lunenburg County, Charlotte County, Prince Edward County, Cumberland County, Buckingham County, Nottoway County, Amelia County, Pittsylvania County, Henry County, Patrick County, Danville, and Martinsville.

Program Facilitators

Our CO.STARTERS Generator certified facilitators are passionate about teaching  the entrepreneurship mindset and business model development skills to students in our region. Whether a student goes on to launch their own business or to become an employee, we believe that the entrepreneurship mindset will benefit them. 

Jacob Dolence

Faculty at Longwood University Cormier Honors College

Jacob grew up in Wyoming.  While in high school he competed at the national Future Business Leaders of American competition.  In college, he won a business plan competition and started an internet company to help students save money on textbooks.  After graduate school, Jacob has worked at Northern Arizona University (Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center), West Virginia University (Program Coordinator of the Leadership Academy), and now Longwood University.  His teaching focuses on entrepreneurship and helping college students turn ideas into realities. In his spare time, he enjoys trail running, rock climbing, and cooking.

Brandon Hennessey

Director of Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Longwood University

Brandon Hennessey is the Director of Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship for Longwood’s Office of Community and Economic Development. Brandon, a resident of Farmville, VA, is a two-time graduate of Longwood University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts undergraduate degree in 2012 and Masters of Business Administration graduate degree in 2017. Brandon utilized his undergraduate degree to serve Prince Edward County Public Schools as an art educator for five years. After completing his MBA degree, he was afforded the opportunity to work for Longwood’s Small Business Development Center, as a business analyst. In this capacity, Brandon strived to emulate the core mission of the LSBDC, which is to provide an extensive range of consultative and education services to new and existing businesses within the Southern Virginia region. Brandon also proudly serves as a board member for the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and serves advisory roles for the Longwood Center for Visual Arts and Virginia Credit Union.

Lauren Mathena

Director of Economic Development and Community Engagement, Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) and SOVA Innovation Hub

Lauren grew up in Danville and Pittsylvania County, Virginia as the daughter of a small business owner. In college, she took an entrepreneurship elective, and her team won first place in a business pitch competition. Lauren went to graduate school and then moved back to Danville to work as a manager in her family’s business. She has applied the entrepreneurship mindset to found or co-found many social ventures, including the IdeaFest business pitch competition, the Dan River Adult Kickball League, the Dan River Autism Awareness 5k, and most recently, RISE Collaborative! She works full-time and also owns two small businesses: a real estate investment company and a yoga studio.

Participating Schools/Programs


Amelia County Public Schools – Amelia County High School – Dana Knott

Lunenburg County Public Schools – Central High School – Karen McGrath

Halifax County Public Schools – Halifax County High School – Jocelyn Forest and Sandora Leigh

CH Friend School 


CO.STARTERS Generator Workshop

Have questions about the program or want a workshop brought to your school or community group?

We are happy to get your questions answered and talk with you about setting up a two-hour, interactive, virtual workshop for educators/schools/group leaders where our team will introduce your students to the program.