Kent State Selected to Train the Next Generation of EntrepreneursPosted Nov. 28, 2011
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced a $3.2 million, three-year partnership to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. The grants – to Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College – will expand Blackstone LaunchPad, a groundbreaking initiative that gives university students and alumni the skills, knowledge and guidance to start new companies. Blackstone LaunchPad replicates and implements a program developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 65 start-up ventures, 120 new jobs and drawn nearly 2,000 student participants. In 2010, the first Blackstone LaunchPad was opened at two schools in Detroit. Blackstone LaunchPad programs will be up and running in Northeast Ohio in early 2012.
Funding for this program is made possible through The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s $50 million, five-year Entrepreneurship Initiative and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s commitment to invest in organizations and institutions that foster entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio. Influenced by the urgent need for job growth in the United States, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation seeks to support innovative projects and catalytic ideas that can accelerate start-ups, job growth and economic activity.
Blackstone LaunchPad is an innovative program that presents entrepreneurship as a viable career path and offers students, faculty and alumni concrete tools and guidance to transform ideas into thriving businesses. Unlike traditional college programs available to a very limited population, Blackstone LaunchPad is open to all students, regardless of major, and engages local entrepreneurs to mentor students.
In 2010, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation brought the LaunchPad model to Walsh College and Wayne State University in Detroit – an area struggling from the collapse of its predominant industry. After nine months, 319 students are involved in the program with 110 having completed initial venture proposals. Based on the early success of the Miami and Detroit programs, President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative” recently acknowledged LaunchPad and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation committed to expanding it to five new regions over the next five years.
Northeast Ohio was chosen as the next region for a Blackstone LaunchPad because of its critical need for new jobs and its dedication to supporting entrepreneurship, particularly at the collegiate level.
As partners in implementing Blackstone LaunchPad in Northeast Ohio, Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College will expand existing entrepreneurship and support programming and offer students access to an extensive network of mentors, experts and services. The four institutions will be strategically linked to facilitate administrative oversight and venture coaching. Collectively, these four campuses reach more than 70,000 students. The Northeast Ohio LaunchPad could create 150 businesses over the next five years and generate more than 3,000 direct jobs.
“This important new investment – coupled with Kent State’s eight-campus system – will allow us to significantly enhance entrepreneurship opportunities throughout the region,” says Kent State President Lester A. Lefton. “Kent State is committed to fostering the next generation of Ohio entrepreneurs that will generate economic opportunities in the state, and we’re grateful to The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation for this generous support.”
“The LaunchPad program will take entrepreneurship at Kent State to new heights,” says Julie Messing, director of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation. “This new initiative will help Kent State reinforce entrepreneurship a viable career path and assist us in helping students and alumni turn ideas in vital businesses.”
To read the full press release about this announcement, visit www.kent.edu/news/newsdetail.cfm?newsitem=B76895EA-B5F5-2C59-7887B04F25037BFD.