The Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced this week that it will expand its LaunchPad program to support underrepresented students and communities, focusing on colleges and universities that have a majority diverse population or are serving under-resourced communities. With a $40 million commitment, LaunchPad will increase its network to 75 campuses over the next five years working with UNCF (the United Negro College Fund), the largest scholarship provider for students of color.
There are currently 30 universities in the network with the recent addition of six additional campuses in the University of Texas system, funded through a $5 million commitment to reach designated Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). This doubles the number of HSIs in the LaunchPad network and further underscores the commitment to increasing inclusion in student entrepreneurship.
This represents a rapid expansion of the network. In fall 2020, there were 24 campuses in the network, including Syracuse University. With the expansion comes an evolution of mission — from helping start and scale student startups, to also focusing on the development of creative and analytical skills sets to help students succeed in life.
Drawing on insights from ten years of experience, Blackstone LaunchPad will also develop new offerings to bring its critical entrepreneurship training to a broader set of students and offer an expanded set of programs for entrepreneurial skill-building – like building business acumen and problem solving – to support career mobility in 21st century jobs.
Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said, “In the last ten years of LaunchPad, we have seen a growing need for inclusion in student entrepreneurship. As we continue to build on our commitment to diversity and equity, we hope to support a new generation of entrepreneurs and provide resources for students to thrive in today’s workforce.”
Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF, said: “Our partnership with Blackstone underscores the firm’s commitment to genuinely expanding its offerings to reach more diverse students. We have been impressed with their expansion plans and hope to grow this partnership to continue making LaunchPad more inclusive.”
UNCF is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 17 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” ®
Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @UNCF.