Students in Free Enterprise work to increase economic opportunity in community

April 11, 2012

Peoria, IL (April 11, 2012) The Bradley University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) chapter is helping a new local business venture’s owners improve their financial literacy and develop their website and search engine optimization.

With funding from the HSBC North America Financial Education for Small Business Project and a Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment grant, Bradley SIFE is consulting with The Fiber Universe owners, Erin Gierszewski and Melinda Breede, on the project. The Fiber Universe is a local retail shop that focuses on supplies for knitters, crocheters, and spinners, providing yarn, supplies, and fiber from local sheep, llama, and alpaca farms in the area. The store opened in downtown Peoria in November.

“We as a SIFE team wanted to contribute to Peoria’s growth and to help ensure its sustainability,” said Zachary Johnson-Burton, vice president of Bradley SIFE and a senior entrepreneurship major.  “We also wanted to work with a business that aided the community socially, economically, and environmentally.”

Part of the project, a new website designed with funding from the SIFE grants, will be unveiled on Friday, April 13.

“We at The Fiber Universe have really enjoyed working with the SIFE students.  They have been very professional, have made fantastic suggestions and given us great ideas.  They have helped us improve our understanding of running a small business and taught us a lot about financial literacy,” Gierszewski said.

The Bradley SIFE chapter was reestablished in the fall of 2011 after being dormant for several years. Since then, the members of SIFE have put in approximately 215 hours working with The Fiber Universe. The team will present the project at the SIFE regional competition competing against more than 60 other universities on April 16 in Chicago.

To learn more about The Fiber Universe, contact Gierszewski at 309-673-5659, or see their website at  

SIFE is an international non-profit organization that brings together the leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Founded in 1975, SIFE has active programs on more than 1500 college and university campuses in 39 countries. Through projects that improve the lives of people worldwide, the university students, academic professionals and industry leaders who participate in SIFE are demonstrating that individuals with a knowledge and passion for business can be a powerful force for change. For more information, see