Nov 18, 2011

Blackstone Charitable Foundation Expands LaunchPad Program to Northeast Ohio

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation today announced a $3.2 million, three-year partnership with the Ohio-based Burton D. Morgan Foundation to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio.

Blackstone Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder Steve Schwarzman attended the announcement at Case Western Reserve University and delivered the key note address.  Also in attendance were U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. John P. Holdren, and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro in addition to 200 guests and student entrepreneurs.

Modeled after a program successfully piloted by the University of Miami, Blackstone Launch Pad is a college and university-based program that treats entrepreneurship as a mainstream career path with the goal being to teach students and alumni how to create jobs, not just find jobs. 

In 2010 the Blackstone Charitable Foundation helped bring LaunchPad to Detroit, Michigan, an area severely impacted by the loss of its predominant industry and in need of a new generation of entrepreneurs.  Within the first nine months of implementation, Blackstone LaunchPad enrolled more than 300 students and created a network of 30 coaches to support, guide, and encourage budding entrepreneurs.

Based on the early success of LaunchPad, President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative” asked The Blackstone Charitable Foundation to expand it to five new regions over the next five years.  The Foundation chose Northeast Ohio as its first expansion region. 

The $3.2 million grant to Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College will collectively reach more than 70,000 students and has the potential to create 150 businesses and more than 3,000 direct jobs over the next five years.

Mark Slaughter, a graduate student at the University of Miami currently enrolled in their Launch Pad, spoke at the event and praised the program for helping him get his idea off the ground. With help from his Launch Pad mentors, Mark’s start-up, Collaborative Bioscience, a healthcare services company that helps hospital systems to be more efficient and reduce costs, will launch a pilot program on January 1st at a healthcare system in Florida. 

Mark Slaughter said, “Everybody knows Boston and Silicon Valley are centers for innovation, but that’s because they have created an ecosystem and support system to nurture entrepreneurship.  The Launch Pad does that for students.  Every campus needs one and I’m pleased that the University of Miami, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation are helping bring this important program to Ohio.” 

Blackstone LaunchPad is part of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s 5-year, $50 million Entrepreneurship Initiative.