A headshot of David M. Greenberg, Executive Vice President
A Message from Our Executive Vice President, David M. Greenberg

The CU Grow Vendor Development program is one of many initiatives led by the Columbia University Facilities and Operations (CUFO) group supporting the University’s comprehensive commitment to create and expand opportunities for minority-, women-, and locally-owned businesses (MWL).

At Facilities and Operations, we are committed to diversity and local hiring across all aspects of our work. I am proud of the work Columbia University Facilities and Operations does to build the capacity of these firms through our CU Grow: Vendor Development Program. Identifying work for these MWL firms to bid on and providing them opportunities is a large part of the program. Through these efforts, Columbia University Facilities and Operations has expanded the University’s MWL vendor pool with skilled, creative, and motivated vendors to elevate the quality of goods and services at the University. Our alumni have been awarded work across all of Columbia University’s campuses. The dedication and commitment to MWL firms with this program allows my team to open new doors for these firms.

I welcome you to browse the website to learn more about the program benefits and elements, eligibility requirements, curriculum and schedule, and the program team of CU Grow.

David Greenberg signature in script

                                                    PROGRAM OVERVIEW: 

The core of a multi-dimensional approach to assist minority-, women-, and locally owned (MWL) firms to expand their existing portfolio of contracts and clients, the CU Grow: Vendor Development Program's expert coaching component is designed to support executive decision-making and strategic thinking, and assist firms with business management and growth. 

Designed by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS) Construction Administration Master’s Program, the program curriculum, and coach training is provided by expert executive coaches who are established professionals within Columbia University or at partner institutions with knowledge in business development, procurement, project management, finance, marketing, and other business expertise. 

Through its Facilities and Operations department, Columbia University manages the day-to-day logistics and requirements of the program. The program reserves the right to select firms that offer services or commodities that the University needs.

Program Offers:

expert coaching
Expert Coaching
procurement meet ups
Procurement Meet & Greets
growth plan
Growth Plan
capacity building
Capacity Building
technical assistance
Technical Assistance
cohort learning
Cohort Learning

More Information:

  • Introductions to a new group of buyers 
  • Greater understanding of large company procurement procedures 
  • Customized strategic three-year plan to grow your business 
  • No cost to participate in the program 
  • Access to Construction Expert in Residence and Marketing Expert in Residence
  • Contract interpretation and negotiation advice from Columbia Law School’s Entrepreneur Clinic
  • Preferential Pricing for Design Services and Print from Columbia Print
  • Seven personalized coaching sessions designed for each business stage  
  • One-on-one executive strategy meetings with an assigned Construction Expert in Residence:  The program will house two dedicated construction experts in residence in partnership with the School Professional Studies – Construction Administration Master’s Program. Each expert will provide high-level construction support and evaluation of CU Grow firms’ business. 
  • One-on-one social media and website strategy meetings with a Marketing Expert in Residence: As a required component, each CU Grow participant will meet one-on-one with a marketing expert.  The firms will develop strategies and receive SEO guidance for their websites and social media. Direction will also be provided on how to streamline proposals and create clear communications.
  • Four procurement sessions with Columbia University departments and partners advising on upcoming contract opportunities  
  • Two Construction Administration webinars instructed by the CU Grow Construction Experts in Residence
  • A session on executive presence  
  • A customized three-year growth plan for firms to grow their business 

The CU Grow program runs annually for eleven months, from February to December. A summer break is built into the schedule for the month of July. 

The curriculum was designed by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS) Construction Administration Master’s Program. SPS provides a coaching engagement template, training, and support throughout the program. The coaching aspect of the program is designed to support executive decision-making and strategic thinking regarding the management and growth of participants’ companies. Coaches assist firms in developing a three-year strategic growth plan. 

Firms participate in seven coaching sessions that provide them with the knowledge and resources to improve finance, leadership, marketing, and strategy skills, as well as the firm’s structure, and processes. At the completion of the program, firms present their growth plans and participate in a graduation ceremony.  

  • Business must be established for at least three years.  
  • Firms must be in the built environment including construction trades, professional services, suppliers, and commodities. See the list of eligible firms.
  • All applicants must have at least 50% ownership in the business or be designated by the owner  
  • The firm must provide a service or commodity that aligns with the needs of Columbia University  
  • Certified Minority-, Women-, or Locally owned firms * 
  • Annual Revenue between $250K and $5M* 

*Locally owned businesses must be located in the following zip codes: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040, 10451, 10454, 10455 and 10474.  Diverse businesses from other zip codes will be considered based on space availability 

*The program's expert coaching component is designed to support executive decision-making and strategic thinking assisting with each firm's business's management and growth. The expert coaches are established professionals within Columbia University or at partner institutions with knowledge in business development, procurement, project management, finance, marketing, and other professional skills


How to Apply:

The program accepts firms in the built environment with a minimum revenue of $250K minimum and pairs them up with an executive coach that helps in addressing challenges and identifying strategies to grow businesses.

We are currently not recruiting firms and executive coaches. Please submit an interest form to be considered for Cohort 7, beginning in February 2023.

West Side Stone Marble
Vendor Participants
CU Grow Participant Strategic Fire Co. and CU Grow Coach Tuesday Brooks

"CU Grow asks you to take the initiative necessary to earn the opportunity to do the hard work.  The program gave us a fresh perspective on our business model, inspired innovation and provided new resources we needed to grow.”

K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO of WATT + FLUX and Pathogen Biotech, Cohort 3
Stacie Alexiou
K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO of WATT + FLUX and Pathogen Biotech Cohort 3 Graduate

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, visit this page.