Two Foundations Commit $3.2 Million to Train Ohio’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs | Kent State University

Two Foundations Commit $3.2 Million to Train Ohio’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced today 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 inDetroit – 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 over 3,000 direct jobs.

"Our economy needs the kind of immediate, fast-growth activity that only comes from entrepreneurs.  Fostering a new generation of entrepreneurs is critical to America's recovery, which is why we are investing in Blackstone LaunchPad to help young entrepreneurs harness their talents and transform creative ideas into viable companies," said Blackstone's Chairman and CEO, Stephen A. Schwarzman. Deborah D. Hoover, President & CEO of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation said, "Northeast Ohio has made great progress reinventing itself by returning to its entrepreneurial roots. Blackstone LaunchPad will fill a gap by linking fledgling entrepreneurs to practical tools and experienced mentors to champion novel business ideas through venture formation and ultimately to the marketplace. We are investing in Blackstone LaunchPad to help demystify entrepreneurship as a career path, spur start-ups for Northeast Ohio, and build a vibrant regional economy where young people want to work and live." 

"As part of my ongoing effort to make Ohio more jobs-friendly, I am delighted to see a program that will bring innovation and entrepreneurial activity to our state," said Ohio Governor John Kasich. "LaunchPad will bring new energy and hands-on support to Ohio's future entrepreneurs. Thanks to Blackstone and the Burton Morgan Foundation for bringing their expertise and resources to help jumpstart a new generation of entrepreneurs in the Buckeye State."\

Small businesses create almost two-thirds of new jobs in the American economy. That's why it's so important to give start-up support to our best and brightest young minds," Senator Sherrod Brown said. The Blackstone LaunchPad program will help provide the necessary resources to young entrepreneurs t Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western, Kent State, and LCCC to create 21st-century jobs and spur economic growth in Northeast Ohio. I'm thrilled that The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation have recognized the strong entrepreneurial spirit present here in Northeast Ohio, and I welcome their generous investment in our students."

"Innovative programs, like LaunchPad, help fuel the creation of new businesses that will call Northeast Ohio home.  It is what we need not only to create jobs, but to create tomorrow's "job creators." I hope that through encouraging entrepreneurship and giving our young people the skills to succeed in business, our communities will recover from a tough economic downturn.  I thank the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for generously partnering with our universities to bring this initiative to our district," said Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge.

"It is inspiring to see this latest expansion of LaunchPad in Ohio, and I look forward to seeing this program and others like it take root and grow around the country," said John P. Holdren, Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Working together, we can leverage America's centers of higher education to support entrepreneurship and create new engines of innovation and economic growth."  

"We are grateful to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for its ongoing collaboration with The LaunchPad and to the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for its support in expanding the Blackstone Launch Pad program to Northeast Ohio," said William Scott Green, Dean of Undergraduate Education at the University of Miami and Co-Founder of the Launch Pad. "This new chapter means that, through the Blackstone LaunchPad program, the distinctive approach to entrepreneurship education developed at The Launch Pad can now benefit students in six other universities, two in Michigan and four in Ohio. We are humbled and excited to anchor and work with this network of superb and diverse institutions. For the University of Miami, to be able to help students elsewhere in the nation to find their entrepreneurial path and help build America's future is a meaningful educational achievement."

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POSTED: Friday, November 18, 2011 - 11:19am
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 8:37am