Within the first nine months of implementation, The Blackstone Launchpad program has enrolled more than 300 students and has created a network of 30 coaches to support, guide, and encourage budding entrepreneurs. Of those 300 students, 110 have completed initial venture proposals. Modeled after the successful LaunchPad program at the University of Miami, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation developed and funded two new LaunchPad programs in Detroit at Wayne State University and Walsh College. The programs started at the schools in September of 2010.
Blackstone LaunchPad is a unique educational program that treats entrepreneurship as a mainstream career path focusing on recruiting university students and alumni to start enterprises in the university’s local or regional economy.
William Harry Volz, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Wayne State University, said, “Blackstone LaunchPad at Wayne State University is giving our students the opportunity to play an exciting role in Detroit's economic revitalization. We are tapping the entrepreneurial energies of the rich diversity of our community. Not only have a full spectrum of students participated in our first year of operation, these talented students have taken strong leadership roles in working with other student entrepreneurs.”
Carol Glynn, Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh Institute, said, “Thanks to the vision and generosity of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, we have had the opportunity to nurture and educate our aspiring entrepreneurs at Walsh College. LaunchPad is a safe environment where young entrepreneurs can grow their business ideas with a network of support to help them get started in achieving their goals of opening a business.”
As part of the White House's Startup America Partnership, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will be expanding this innovative program to five new regions over the next 5 years.