Todd B. Rubin ’04 (Architecture) supports innovation, diversity, and inclusion through gift to LaunchPad

students at an event at SU Libraries
LaunchPad students at a recent ‘Cuse Market student venture demo day at SU Libraries

Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture), Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea, has made an impactful gift to Syracuse University to support innovation, diversity, and inclusion through a multi-year commitment to the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad).  Personal gifts, along with a gift through his family’s Foundation, will support 18 student entrepreneurs this coming academic year.

There are three components to the gifts:

  • A personal gift to support eleven student entrepreneurs (Orange Ambassadors) with special financial needs to help facilitate continued access to a Syracuse education, particularly in light of the economic challenges and hardships many families are facing in the current pandemic;
  • A five-year personal commitment to support two student entrepreneurs annually from diverse backgrounds (Todd B. Rubin Diversity and Inclusion Scholars). They will work with the LaunchPad to broaden diversity and inclusion outreach and programming, expand participation in entrepreneurship by underrepresented groups and support the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion;
  • A year two commitment from The Rubin Family Foundation to fund five peer student entrepreneurs (Rubin Family Innovation Mentors) through the 2020-2021 academic year who will provide coaching to other student startups.
LaunchPad Global Fellow Victoria Lawson mentors students at Startup Weekend

Applications are now open for Orange Ambassadors for the 2020-2021 academic year.  These will include student stipends for undergraduate students from any academic major with special financial needs, and they will help with LaunchPad outreach and programming for the coming year.  Students interestd in these positions should apply here on Handshake and submit a cover letter explaining their financial need as well as a resume.

Applications are also now open for Todd B. Rubin Diversity and Inclusion Scholars for the 2020-2021 academic year.  These will include student stipends for graduate or undergraduate students from any academic major to work with the LaunchPad on initiatives related to diversity, inclusion and social justice.  Students interested in these positions should apply here on Handshake and submit a cover letter explaining their interest and expertise in this topic, as well as a resume. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through July, with selections announced before August 1.  Students applying should be members of the LaunchPad.  Become a member here:

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“I am pleased to provide these student opportunities to address equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as to help entrepreneurial students offset financial needs in light of unprecedented national challenges,” said Rubin.  “The recent economic downturn has affected many families.  Some families have seen their jobs disappear or have been furloughed.  Many students have lost summer employment opportunities that they rely on to help pay for their education.  Student debt is an increasing burden.  At the same time, public conversations across the country have raised important issues around equity and access.  As an alumnus, I was very interested in helping address these issues, while supporting Syracuse University and entrepreneurial students engaged in the LaunchPad at SU Libraries. It is my hope that more Syracuse University students, from varied backgrounds and needs, will have access to the incredible resources at the LaunchPad through these opportunities to help them grow as innovators.”

“The Libraries is grateful to Todd for his continued support for Syracuse University’s innovation hub and encouraging diversity and inclusion,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian.  “The LaunchPad is an incubation environment for students from 116 countries around the world to grow and flourish. It provides experiential opportunities for innovative students to interact with a variety of people from different backgrounds, with different interests, from all the academic disciplines across campus. This type of learning significantly compliments what they learn in a classroom, helping them understand how to become thoughtful and engaged citizens and change-makers.”

“We are proud that the LaunchPad reflects the rich diversity of the global world,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director.  “The LaunchPad promotes perspectives and solutions from our members who represent different national origins, languages, races, colors, disabilities, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures.  Our core values are based on transcending differences, finding common ground, giving voice and power to all, and building a diverse and inclusive community that encourages collaboration, respect and equity. This generous gift will enable us to expand upon that mission.”

Additionally, a 2020-2021 gift from The Rubin Family Foundation, facilitated through Todd B. Rubin, will also support five students to serve as Rubin Family Innovation Mentors for the coming year.  This is the second year that The Rubin Family Foundation has supported the peer mentor program through the LaunchPad.  Applications are now open through this link to become a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor.  

Last year’s Rubin Family Innovation Mentors mentored more than 50 student teams, organized and ran Startup Weekend and Mentor Madness, prepared teams for campus, state and national competitions, and helped teams with research and discovery, team building, goal setting and achieving milestones. Along the way, Rubin Family Innovation Mentors also continued to build their own ventures, win national awards, and raise investments to take their own ideas from concept to commercialization. They will be involved in selecting this year’s Rubin Family Innovation Mentors.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.

About Todd B. Rubin:

Rubin serves as the Minister of Evolution (President) for The Republic of Tea. Dedicated to preserving a legacy that fosters The Republic of Tea’s “Sip by Sip Rather than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle, he strives to delight Citizens, Ministers, Embassies and Ambassadors with a focus on innovation, education and providing the finest premium teas and herbs.

Rubin joined The Republic of Tea in 2007 as the Minister of East Commerce and then transitioned to the Minister of Southeast Commerce in 2008. In 2011, he was appointed to Minister of Evolution (Vice President of Sales and Marketing), relocating to the company’s Larkspur, California office. In that role, he successfully spearheaded new teas and new systems that led to significant growth. Utilizing his Syracuse University degree in architecture, he oversaw the feng shui design of the company’s headquarters at The Exchange in Larkspur, California and the company’s production and shipping center in Nashville, Illinois.

In 2016, Rubin was elected to the Specialty Food Association Board of Directors and was distinguished as one of San Francisco Business Times’ 40 Under 40. He was appointed to the Advisory Board for the Specialty Tea Institute and became a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization SF Bay Area Chapter in 2015. The year prior, Rubin was the recipient of Syracuse’s Generation Orange Award for philanthropy and was also honored as one of North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Rubin was elected to the Board for the Ethical Tea Partnership, a nonprofit organization that convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs, and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers, and the environment in which they live and work.

His goal in making this gift is to encourage other Syracuse University alumni to consider gift that support students and enhances their “Orange Experience.”

About The Republic of Tea:

The Republic of Tea enriches people’s lives through its great-tasting premium teas and herbs, education and innovation, as it emphasizes a “Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle. Founded in 1992, The Republic of Tea sparked a specialty tea revolution. Today the brand delivers an unequaled selection of the highest-quality teas, herbal blends, books and nature-inspired sipware. The Republic of Tea’s collections boast over 300 all-natural premium teas and diverse offerings which include, but are not limited to: organic SuperAdapt Teas, SuperDigest Teas®, Beautifying Botanicals®, SuperGreen Teas, Downton Abbey™ Teas, Biodynamic® Teas, organic Superfruit™ Teas, Be Active® Teas, organic SuperHerb® Teas, U-Matcha™, Single Sips®, teaware and a collection of unsweetened, premium glass-bottled iced teas crafted exclusively for fine restaurants and hotels. Further, The Republic of Tea is mindful of how its actions impact the greater community and actively supports organizations like The Ethical Tea Partnership, Homeward Bound of Marin, and The Women of Tea: Sri Lanka, an initiative by The Republic of Tea focused on improving nutrition, hygiene and financial literacy for the women tea workers living in Sri Lanka. Certifications include Demeter USA Certified Biodynamic, Fair Trade certification, Gluten-Free certification, Non-GMO Project verification, OU Kosher certification, and USDA Organic certification.

For more information, please visit or call 1.800.298.4832. Follow The Republic of Tea on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram