By Devon Martinez – Student Editor
On the outskirts of downtown under Loyal Coffee, which is at the intersection of South Nevada and East Costilla; students from four different colleges are working hard on projects for local organizations.
One group is stuck. The team is out of ideas and are losing focus. They are working on a solution to ensure that seniors at a future affordable housing project live a high quality of life, which doesn’t normally occur at affordable housing units.
The group sits and waits for help, and it’s on the way.
Quad Director Jake Eichengreen sits next to the hardworking students stuck on a portion of their project and helps them think through their ideas. As the group stumbles along, he guides them through the problem while never providing a definite answer. Instead, he helps them view the problem through a different lens, which blows the minds of the students involved in the project.
“I love the moments where something goes wrong for one our teams,” said Eichengreen, “because those moments are always followed by the most impressive growth and learning.”
The Quad Innovation Partnership began with an idea: to provide students with opportunities ‘to turn ideas into valuable action.’ The work is meaningful and hard. There are real clients paying real money for these projects. There is a time limit, and no two projects are the same.
According to Eichengreen no one knows the exact date the Quad began, the first programs ran in 2015, but they aren’t like the programs the Quad runs today. The current structure was developed in 2018 and involves a semester-long program, and a four-week summer intensive.
Named one of the Most Influential Young Professionals in Colorado by CoBiz Magazine, Eichengreen’s journey began when he was at Wesleyan University. Where he joined the founding team of A Café. Two friends did the administration work and the funding for the projects.
The two friends graduated that year so Eichengreen ran A Cafe for its first full year of operations.
The last time he went back to his alma mater, the operation was still running, and was bigger than he imagined.
Despite having an Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts degree, his first opportunity after graduation was learning how to build businesses for Venture for America Fellow in Las Vegas, where he worked for Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh for a new investment metric called, “Return on Community.”
The goal for the Return on Community investment was a revitalization effort to turn Las Vegas into a mecca for entrepreneurs. In total Hsieh invested $350 million into it.
Eichengreen worked on a team of three that managed a $50 million fund.
After leaving Las Vegas, Eichengreen briefly worked in real estate and founded a financial company in Uganda.
He’s lived in Uganda for one full year. and has been living off and on since 2011.
In 2015, he was selected as the executive director of the Quad.
There is no other organization in the country that combines students from four different universities and places them in the same room to work on projects for local organizations. This makes Eichengreen the executive director of something that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
“I don’t know what we shouldn’t try; so, we try everything,” said Eichengreen.
The Quad’s grown a lot since 2015 with both student interest and client interest. There are more qualified students applying then projects available, and this includes returning students.
Clients also return and are pleased with the work the students provide. Currently, there are two returning clients for the Quads fall program.
“Every day I have to be moving really fast. And meeting the needs and wants and aspirations for a group of stakeholders that is massive, diverse, ever-growing, and high stakes,” said Eichengreen.
The stakeholders include each university, the clients, the community, and the students some of whom are parents, cadets, veterans.
The Quad is available for students at each university. To apply to either the semester or summer program: click this link.