Bauer Launches Pioneering Center for Economic Inclusion

New Center Expands Experiential Education Model, Builds Upon Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship (SURE℠) Program

Published on May 9, 2022

Photo: Saleha Khumawala

The C. T. Bauer College of Business is launching the Center for Economic Inclusion (CEI), a new center that champions and expands an experiential education model that has transformed the lives of both university students and entrepreneurs from the Houston community.

CEI’s programs build upon the award-winning Bauer College program, Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship (SURE℠), which trains students while educating and enabling community members to launch businesses.

“The SURE℠ Program has become a worldwide model for other business schools and the business community to develop programming to support and grow thriving hubs of entrepreneurship across the globe,” Dean Paul A. Pavlou said. “Now, with the Center for Economic Inclusion at the Bauer College, we can continue to serve as the standard for both experiential learning and entrepreneurial education.”

CEI Executive Director and SURE℠ Founding Director Saleha Khumawala said CEI will combine experiential education, rigorous academic research, and real-world expertise to train university students in human-centered skills, while economically empowering under-resourced entrepreneurs from the Houston-area community.

“CEI takes the lessons learned in SURE℠ and applies them more broadly across a range of programs for students and community entrepreneurs,” said Khumawala, the Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting at Bauer.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion and economic empowerment are integral to the mission of the Bauer College, as well as to SURE℠ and CEI,” she said. “I am very gratified to be able to say that we’ve seen tremendous success using this experiential learning model. We look forward to extending it so that additional students and community members can experience the benefits of innovative social entrepreneurship.”

CEI programs include:

  • A flagship one-semester course in which students collaborate with community entrepreneurs on new product development. Students earn a Certificate in Social Innovation at the graduate level, or a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Arts in collaboration with the McGovern College of Arts.
  • Design Thinking and Beyond, a one-semester course in which students learn the principles of Design Thinking as applied to business and social challenges.
  • Cougar Professional Skills Clinic, a program where graduate and undergraduate students teach professional skills to community members.
  • Experiential Learning Business Skills Course Lab, where students will develop domain-specific courses that are structured similar to SURE classes.
  • CEI will also found and develop a Higher Education Economic Inclusion Consortium, bringing together higher education organizations with strong economic inclusion programs to exchange best practices on a bi-annual basis.

The SURE℠ program has trained more than 350 students and helped launch or grow more than 560 businesses, as well as educating more than 1,400 aspiring or current entrepreneurs. In addition to CEI, plans are underway to expand the SURE℠ program footprint to business schools and universities nationally and globally. More information can be found at