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  • Bank's gift will boost Carlsen Center's mentoring efforts

    Carlsen Center interim Executive Director Cameron Law, standing, left, interacting with students and others during the Startup Bootcamp in February 2020, says a $250,000 gift from California Bank of Commerce is an important factor in expanding the center's mentorship work. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

    By Dixie Reid

    Mentoring, a significant part of the mission for Sacramento State’s Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has found significant new support from a community partner.

    California Bank of Commerce (CBC) has committed $250,000 and now is the name sponsor for the center’s mentoring network, which connects student entrepreneurs with an array of experienced advisers as they develop their ideas. CBC executives will join the Carlsen Center’s community of mentors.

    The gift was revealed at the close of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), earlier this month.

    Scott Myers, a top executive with California Bank of Commerce, says the bank's financial gift is meant to help better align the business community and higher education. (Photo courtesy of Scott Myers)

    “They don’t want to just put their name on something, they want to engage in that work,” said Cameron Law, the center’s interim executive director. “We’re excited to have them as a partner, because mentorship and engagement are key components to growing the startup community and entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

    CBC will give the Carlsen Center $50,000 a year for five years to support the program now branded the “California Bank of Commerce Mentor Network.”

    “It aligns well with how our bank wants to show up in the community,” said Scott Myers, CBC’s senior executive vice president and chief lending officer. “Our giving philosophy is action-oriented. We like to get in and roll up our sleeves.”

    Myers, who grew up in Carmichael and graduated from Mira Loma High School, is the newest member of the Carlsen Center’s advisory board.

    “We are extremely grateful for this generous gift,” University President Robert S. Nelsen said. “It’s not just about the money, which will have an enormous impact during these trying times, but also the mentorship and engagement that the California Bank of Commerce Mentor Network will provide. That kind of partnership is priceless."

    Nelsen said that creating new and lasting partnerships supports Sac State’s standing as an anchor university, one that works to help build and improve the community, while achieving lasting solutions through civic engagement.

    “The mentor network will create opportunities for Sacramento State and will help our students become problem-solvers and positive change-makers for our region,” Nelsen said.

    The CBC gift is the third major donation to the Carlsen Center, which was created in November 2017. A $6 million gift from Dale Carlsen ’84 (Business Administration), founder of Sleep Train Mattress Centers, and his wife, Katy, led to the interdisciplinary center that bears their name in the Sac State Library.

    “It’s not just about the money, which will have an enormous impact during these trying times, but also the mentorship and engagement that the California Bank of Commerce Mentor Network will provide. That kind of partnership is priceless."

    The University has committed to matching Carlsens’ gift through fundraising. A major step toward achieving that goal was taken when Garry Maisel ’80 (Business Administration-Finance), president and CEO of Western Health Advantage (WHA), in 2019 announced WHA’s commitment of $1 million to support GEW, the Carlsen Center’s marquee event.

    “Mentorship is a key component to the success of student entrepreneurs,” Law said. “The way we want to build out our mentor network in partnership with CBC is to further integrate it into our programs.

    “We have partnered with the city of Sacramento’s Mentor Sacramento program and serve as a program catalyst to expand that platform. We want to make sure that mentorship is accessible to our students and anyone on campus and across the region.”

    California Bank of Commerce, which specializes in business banking, opened its Sacramento location in May 2019.

    “We wanted to build a better alignment between higher education and the business community,” Myers said. “I believe that companies will follow talent, and if curriculum doesn’t line up with the local economy, students will graduate and go elsewhere if we don’t have work here.”

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