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About ELA

The Entrepreneur Leadership Academy (ELA) was inspired by ConnCAT’s mission to provide equal quality educational opportunities for the under-served in the New Haven community. Carlton Highsmith, the founder of ConnCAT, believes that “education and entrepreneurship are the equalizers of the Ameritocracy.”

What We Do


The ELA curriculum aims to teach the 9-Steps of Idea-to-Commercialization© concept through five, self-complementing program elements. All five programs encourage participants to launch their own ventures while building mentor-relationships between students, faculty and successful entrepreneurs. The International element broadens the view of budding and future entrepreneurs from local to global.

2018 ELA Hungary participants learned the basics of entrepreneurship

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ELA has graduated over a hundred high school students and college interns in the past two summers. Several of the projects have continued development and are on a commercialization path. Several graduates have returned as mentors and facilitators.

ELA Summer 2019

The 2019 programs will continue with the successful curriculum and elements of previous years.


The success of the academy is due to a collaboration of  ConnCAT, New Haven Public Schools, QU Central European Institute, MCC, Hungarian Gov’t and The Garage. Bridgeport Public Schools will join the partnership for 2018.

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