Undergrads Named Little Joe Ventures Fellows

Undergrads Named Little Joe Ventures Fellows

Christian Wade and Amy DrakeEntrepreneurs Christian Wade and Amy Drake have been selected for the Little Joe Ventures program.

School of Education and Social Policy undergraduates Amy Drake and Christian Wade were among five students selected for the Little Joe Ventures (LJV) Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, a program designed by The Garage to support promising, entrepreneurially minded undergraduates across different schools at Northwestern.

Launched in 2018 by Northwestern University alumnus Tony Owen, and his wife, Monique, the Little Joe Ventures Fellowship in Entrepreneurship provides an unparalleled experience to students with a demonstrated interest in and commitment to building new ideas. 

In addition to thoughtful programming, the fellowship normally provides domestic and international travel, and $5,000 stipends to pursue an innovation project or unpaid professional opportunity. All areas of the program are intended to help students explore and pursue passion projects and dream career paths.

The Fellowship starts in the spring of the students’ sophomore year and ends at graduation, offering a comprehensive experience filled with networking events and special opportunities to meet accomplished entrepreneurs.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic The Garage is operating fulfilling programs remotely. The fellows are currently accessing their Northwestern coursework and the Fellowship remotely from their homes around the world. The Garage is engaging and connecting with them in creative ways and working together to develop the resiliency and problem-solving skills they need to navigate a trying time.

“I definitely appreciate the program coordinators for trying their best to make everything happen under these circumstances, and I’m still excited about what the future holds,” said Wade, a learning and organizational change major from Madison, Mississippi. “The Garage has handled this situation about the best they could’ve, as they’re offering largely the same programming virtually as they would’ve on campus.”

Wade served as the executive director of the 2020 Improve NU Challenge, a pitch competition in which over 100 students pitched their ideas to make Northwestern better. He also launched an indie music web-magazine. He is a member of both ISBE and Alpha Kappa Psi, and serves on the executive boards of ASG, WNUR Media Team, and the Northwestern Sports Analytics Group.

Drake’s journey to Northwestern from her hometown in Somerset, England, was facilitated by the Sutton Trust US Programme run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Passionate about social mobility issues, she designed a student-led initiative to empower low-income communities in Chicago to lead environmentally friendly lifestyles. 

Drake also served as a mentor for the student-led organization “Supplies for Dreams,” leading workshops for Chicago Public Schools students, and has been involved in multiple marketing, theatre, and leadership roles on campus.

A social policy major, Drake was also selected to participate in the Clinton Global Initiatives University (CGI U) Program, an internationally competitive leadership development program. She focused on environmental issues in her CGI U project through her own awareness of the financial barriers that exist to practicing sustainablity. 

“It’s often difficult to lead environmentally-conscious lifestyles without the necessary knowledge and means,” she said. “I’m interested in providing resources to low-income residents in Chicago— those whom climate change not only affects the most, but who are the least equipped to reduce it.”

Depending on travel restrictions that may be in place, the Little Joe Ventures cohort will be given an unparalleled opportunity to travel to Los Angeles during their junior year, a trip curated by Tony Owen, an investor in emerging food and consumer businesses.

Past cohort trips included tours of SpaceX, lunch with Gwyneth Paltrow at her startup, goop, a visit with Maye Musk, Elon Musk’s mother and entrepreneur, and insightful roundtable discussions with other industry leaders from Owen’s network. During their senior year, the cohort will take an international trip together. 

“Now that most of my days are free, I’m looking forward to attending several of the presentations and office hours that I might’ve normally had conflicts with,” Wade said. “No one can predict what the future holds, and hopefully the situation gets to a point where we’ll still be able make these trips, but the coordinators are definitely prepared for whatever may happen.”

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 4/28/20