college mcp-logo-header-white mcpherson

Horizon Fund at McPherson College Gives Students Cash Grants to Explore Great Entrepreneurial Ideas

An innovative electronic duck call, a coffee table created from an engine transmission, and a goal to start a new volunteer venture in order to compete in the Miss Kansas Pageant – all dreams that could come true thanks to the Horizon Fund at McPherson College.

The spring round of grants for the entrepreneurship fund for students at MC is providing cash grants to 11 students with 10 creative and innovative ideas. Since it was introduced in 2010, the fund has given hundreds of grants of up to $500 to students to explore making their dreams a reality.

The Horizon Fund grant has been a long-term and sustainable benefit offered to students at MC thanks to help from the McPherson Chamber of Commerce, which has provided a $5,000 grant for the Horizon Fund under the chamber’s Entrepreneurship Loan Committee. Jennifer Burch, executive director for the chamber, said she was pleased that the grant to the Horizon Fund was approved.

Hunter Sury, Katy, Texas, freshman, was one of the beneficiaries. He received a Horizon Fund grant to develop a unique electronic duck call with a unique and convenient method to activate it. The concept occurred to him after he went duck hunting for the first time.

“I realized we were missing a lot of ducks because we had to take time for calling,” he said.

Sury said he wasn’t sure what to think about the Horizon Fund at first, but the experience sold him on the fund’s value.

“You can pursue your own ideas,” he said. “If it doesn’t go big, it’s just a good experience of how the world works.”

James Virzi, senior, Oswego, Ill., is using his Horizon Fund grant to combine his interests in cars and in artistic creation. The idea came originally from, first, needing a coffee table and – eureka! – turning an engine transmission he had lying around into one.

He’s since considered how to apply the general concept of turning all manner of car parts into different home furnishings – end tables, lamps, and maybe even a chandelier.

“Instead of scrapping the old parts for next to nothing,” he said, “turn it into a nice piece of artwork or furniture.”

The committee responded enthusiastically and positively to Virzi’s venture concept, which he’s calling “Cranky’s Furniture.” A Horizon Fund committee member even purchased one of Virzi’s lamps on-the-spot.

Virzi said the value of the Horizon Fund extends beyond the grant check. It’s about building networks in the community and with other Horizon Fund students, as well as prompting students to see entrepreneurial opportunities when they come.

“When people see that opportunity, I think it triggers their creativity and they come up with ways to better themselves,” Virzi said. “There’s no other way but to see it as an opportunity.”

Other recipients of a Horizon Fund grant in the spring round were:

  • Michael Janzer, junior, Peyton, Colo.: Expand his existing Book Buyback business, which is designed to get college students more money for selling back textbooks in exchange for a wait of a few weeks while it’s sold online.
  • Allie Hicks, junior, Keller, Texas: Launch a campus and community-wide campaign called “I Respect You” which is designed to promote understanding and respect, especially in areas of controversy.
  • Miguel Luna Sanchez, junior, Salina, Calif.: Sanchez is working to provide free haircuts to his fellow students as a community benefit. The grant will help him to purchase and upgrade his equipment.
  • James Wasson, freshman, Hookstown, Penn.: Wasson plans to start and to print an automotive magazine with a deeper focus and smaller sticker price than similar magazines currently on the market.
  • Grant Barrett, freshman, McPherson, Kan.: Barrett is working to create a music studio for creative musicians on the McPherson College campus. The grant will help with the purchase of equipment for the studio.
  • Joel Kellogg, junior, Muncie, Ind.: Kellogg is working to expand an existing screen-printing business with a printer of his own for convenience and to save on business expense.
  • Susan Forgie, freshman, Wichita, Kan.: Forgie is starting a community service platform called “Be True, Be YOU!” that will be used to support those struggling with their identity and issues of depression. The venture will be central in her bid to compete in the 2017 Miss Kansas pageant.
  • Nathan Buckler, sophomore, La Grange, Ill., and Barrett Breitenbucher, sophomore, La Grange, Ill.: “Rusty Peach Restoration” will be a new partnership business providing automotive restoration services at an affordable price. The fund will help them restore their first vehicle as a showcase piece.

Learn more about entrepreneurship at McPherson College at