University of Illinois System
Office of Procurement Diversity &
University of Illinois Corporate
Relations Council


Begins September 2022

Elevating small businesses.
Elevating our communities.

The University of Illinois System’s Diverse Supplier Development Program reflects our commitment to empowering diverse businesses and creating a more inclusive economy.

This groundbreaking 9-month program will help diverse small business owners expand their capacity and knowledge, empowering them to grow their business.

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Our program provides participants with insightful workshops led by University of Illinois academic instructors and other leading professionals, along with student-led consulting opportunities to take their businesses to the next level.

“Every day, our vast network of diverse suppliers helps the University of Illinois System fulfill its educational, research, and outreach missions. Through the Diverse Supplier Development Program, the U of I System is giving back to these businesses by utilizing our transformational, land-grant power to remove some of the barriers to growth that many diverse businesses face. That will, in turn, benefit each community that these businesses call home and promote inclusive growth throughout Illinois.”

Timothy L. Killeen



University of Illinois System

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Program Description
Begins September 2022

Through this program, diverse small business owners will tap into a student project team to solve business challenges and build their talent pipeline. These student teams will be coordinated by the Magelli Office of Experiential Learning, which includes Illinois Business Consulting, the nation’s largest student-run, professionally managed university consultancy. The program also offers monthly workshops led by our world-class faculty members and outside partner organizations.

These groups from across the University of Illinois System have joined forces to launch the Diverse Supplier Development Program:

  • Minority, woman, person with disabilities and/or veteran-owned small businesses
  • Businesses ready to advance to the next level of their growth trajectory

Businesses that meet these criteria will receive priority:

  • Current U of I supplier
  • Has been in business for at least 3 years
  • Has at least one employee besides owner
Program Offerings
Student Consulting Projects (Virtual, 1 semester)
  • Strategy – Business Plans, Market Analysis, Growth Strategy
  • Marketing – CRM, Communications Planning, Social Media
  • Data & Technology – Data Management & Analytics, Web Design
  • Financial Modeling – Forecasting, Cost-Benefit Analysis
Education (Virtual, 1-hour monthly workshops)
  • Growth Strategy/Business Plan
  • Financing and Access to Capital
  • Government Contracting
  • Negotiation
  • Digital Marketing/CRM/Communications
  • Integrated Strategy for Brand Reputation & Social Media Management
  • Data Management and Analytics

This program comes at no cost to you, courtesy of the University of Illinois System.

Workshop Details


We have partnered with diversity leaders who represent many important
facets of the Illinois community.

Sharla Roberts Image

“As we evolve in supplier diversity, it is my mission to ensure that we move away from a check-the-box mentality to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship where we provide diverse firms access to the university resources and the university gains access to these firms’ innovative products and services. Small businesses are a huge driver of innovation and this program will provide firms with a springboard to help them advance to the next level.”

Sharla Roberts

Director, Office of Procurement Diversity


The University of Illinois System’s Office of Procurement Diversity is the state’s leading higher education supplier diversity program. We pride ourselves on building strategic relationships with suppliers and organizations to encourage the use of businesses owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veterans. The supplier diversity program has helped generate value by increasing the pool of potential suppliers, creating economic opportunities for disadvantaged businesses, and developing enriched partnerships with our university and community partners.

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Connecting vendors to university staff and resources

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Training and workshops to provide vendors with the necessary tools for success

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Ideas and initiatives to develop and implement growth opportunities


The Diverse Supplier Development Program was developed by the University of Illinois System to utilize our resources to help grow small diverse businesses.

Companies must:
  • be owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities and/or veterans
  • be in business for at least three (3) years
  • have at least one employee besides the owner

The time commitment for the entire program will be approximately 25 hours from September 2022 to May 2023.

One-hour workshops will be generally held on the first Friday of each month from September 2022 to May 2023 from 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Participants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of all of the workshops, however the program will allow up to two excused absences from the workshops to receive a certification of completion. Participants should contact the Office of Procurement Diversity prior to the workshop if they will be absent for a session.

No. Only the person selected for the program can attend.

At this time, all program activities are scheduled to be virtual. This is subject to change.

Yes. All participating companies will be matched with a team of student consultants who will complete the project that you commission. We ask the participating companies to take weekly calls with the student team for the project duration (15 weeks).

There is no cost to the participants.

No, however participants that complete the program will receive a certificate of completion.

Yes, the university plans to offer the program annually.
Female student speaking with a teacher.


Contact Us

Office of Procurement Diversity

University of Illinois System