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UAF Lands Grant to Train Aspiring Online Entrepreneurs

Nov 4, 2019 | Education, News

A new $1 million federal grant will help University of Alaska Fairbanks students learn how to turn their online interests into a viable business.

The five-year grant from the US Department of Education will support a new UAF program to teach students how to operate in the booming markets of YouTube, video-game streaming, and social media. The new sixteen-credit occupational endorsement in content creation has been submitted for academic review, and is expected to be available in fall 2020 if approved.

The program will be offered by UAF’s Interior Alaska Campus as part of a collaboration with other UAF departments at the Chukchi Campus, College of Liberal Arts, School of Management, and Community and Technical College.

Bryan Uher, director of the Interior Alaska Campus, said the endorsement will teach technical skills as well as subjects like managing finances, developing a brand, and creating a career plan.

In many cases, classes for the endorsement already exist at UAF in areas such as business and communications. Uher said they’ll be offered as part of a program with “a gaming and digital media twist.”

“There are all these existing pieces that we have at UAF. We just needed to repackage them,” he said.

The Department of Education grant will fund the development and delivery of courses. It will pay for adjunct professors and portions of faculty workloads, as well as a coordinator to recruit and advise students. The program will be available to any UAF student but recruiting efforts will focus on Alaska Native communities.

Rural Alaskans have already shown success finding an online audience. Byron Nicholai of Toksook Bay, for example, created a popular series of YouTube videos that spotlight Yup’ik and song and dance.

“This is an industry that people in rural Alaska can find success at,” Uher said. “It’s just really exciting to see someone take advantage of the opportunity and bring traditional values to a wider audience.”

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