Feb 13, 2015

Blackstone Charitable Foundation Announces Third Annual Innovation Grant Recipients

Twenty Organizations Awarded $3 Million to Support Entrepreneurship and Innovation across the United States

New York, February 13, 2015 – The Blackstone Charitable Foundation today announced that it has awarded grants totaling $3 million to twenty non-profit organizations that strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems and support high growth entrepreneurs. Now in its third year, the Blackstone Innovation Grants program targets organizations that focus on fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.

Through these grants, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is helping innovative organizations pilot, expand or replicate programs that will catalyze the growth of successful businesses, industries, and communities in their regions. As part of this program, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is working to create a global network of entrepreneurship-focused programs in which participants can share best practices, methodologies and intellectual capital.

“Through our Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Foundation is committed to strengthening and supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems globally through programs that enable the most promising new companies to remain and grow in their local economies,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “We view our Blackstone Innovation Grants as an extension of that work – the organizations we support are helping create the conditions necessary for entrepreneurs to thrive, and we look forward to working with them on these important efforts in the year ahead.”

More than five hundred and fifty organizations submitted proposals through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process established by the Foundation, of which the top twenty were selected to receive grants. This year’s funding was granted to fourteen new organizations and six organizations from last year’s pool of winners. The reach of the grantees’ programs extend across thirteen U.S. states, Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and the Middle East. The twenty organizations were selected by a committee of Blackstone employees and subsequently approved by the board of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The grant recipients are:

  • Accion US Network (New York, NY), $150,000 – Our funding will allow Accion US Network, an organization that brings microfinance solutions to small business owners around the country, to create Accion Fast Track, a virtual accelerator for a select group of high-performing entrepreneurs from across the national network.

  • African Leadership Academy (Johannesburg, South Africa), $150,000 – Our funding will allow African Leadership Academy, a pan-African secondary institution that aims to educate and develop outstanding students into principled ethical leaders for Africa, to pilot entrepreneurial training camps across Africa to allow young people to design and lead ventures. 

  • Bethnal Green Ventures (London, UK), $150,000 – Our funding will allow Bethnal Green Ventures, a technology-focused accelerator program, to build a robust support program for the graduates of its accelerator program for high growth social technology entrepreneurs in the UK.

  • Black Founders (San Francisco, CA), $100,000 – Our funding will allow Black Founders, an organization that focuses on increasing the number of successful black entrepreneurs in technology, to conduct HBCUHacks, a series of hack-a-thons for students at HBCU, to provide training that will empower black students to explore technology careers.

  • Coalition for Queens (Queens, NY), $175,000 – Our funding will allow Coalition for Queens, an organization that fosters the Queens tech ecosystem to increase economic opportunity, to pilot a program to engage unrepresented populations in the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem of Queens through a fellowship, conference and hack-a-thon.

  • Cornell Tech (New York, NY), $200,000 – Our funding will allow Cornell Tech, an innovative program that develops pioneering leaders and technologies for the information age, to support Cornell Tech student entrepreneurs through Seed Award grants.

  • Energy Excelerator (Honolulu, HI), $100,000 – Our funding will allow Energy Excelerator, an accelerator program that helps start-ups solve the world’s energy challenges, to build a pipeline of companies and entrepreneurs in the energy sector through events and other ecosystem support activities.

  • Enterprise Institute (Brookings, SD), $100,000 – Our funding will allow Enterprise Institute, a non-profit that provides customized business development to start-up companies in South Dakota, to create an accelerator program to support South Dakota’s aspiring entrepreneurs.

  • Idea Village (New Orleans, LA), $125,000 – Our funding will allow Idea Village, an organization that identifies, supports, and retains talent in New Orleans, to continue and improve the user experience during New Orleans Entrepreneurs Week and increase community engagement.

  • Launch Tennessee (Nashville, TN), $250,000 – Our funding will allow Launch Tennessee, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship, to fosters the commercialization of technologies and raises the profile of the state, to conduct a series of entrepreneur-investor summits across the southeast leading up to the 36/86 conference in Nashville, TN.

  • MaroonX Accelerator (Starksville, MS and College Station, TX), $200,000 – Our funding will allow Mississippi State University and Texas A&M to pilot the Blackstone MaroonX Accelerator, a program that will support startups in rural areas, better positioning them for national accelerators and funding opportunities.

  • MyBnk (London, UK), $100,000 – Our funding will allow MyBnk, a non-profit that delivers financial education and enterprise directly to 11-25 year olds in schools, to develop and pilot Business Battle Plus, a program that will provide students the opportunity to run a real business to test their entrepreneurial skills.

  • Seeds of Peace (Middle East and Washington, D.C.), $50,000 – Our funding will allow Seeds of Peace, a non-profit that helps teenagers form regions of conflict learn the skills of making peace, to pilot its Seed Fellows Program, an incubator for social entrepreneurs from the Middle East and South Asia.

  • SEED SPOT (Phoenix, AZ), $100,000 – Our funding will allow SEED SPOT, an incubator that supports early state social entrepreneurs, to expand its successful accelerator model to the Latino community through targeted recruitment and marketing efforts.

  • Social Enterprise Greenhouse (Providence, RI), $200,000 – Our funding will allow Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a network of business and community leaders, and the Founders League to engage students from across the Rhode Island’s university and colleges, and connect them to the state’s startup ecosystem.

  • TechnoServe (Mumbai, India), $150,000 – Our funding will allow TechnoServe, an international NGO that works in developing countries to help people build competitive farms and businesses, to pilot an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in Mumbai, India.

  • Telluride Venture Accelerator (Telluride, CO), $125,000 – Our funding will allow the Telluride Foundation, which supports the Telluride community through grants and programming, to refine and grow the accelerator’s mentor program to create meaningful relationships between the mentors and companies.

  • Tumml (San Francisco, CA), $175,000 – Our funding will allow Tumml, an urban impact accelerator supporting early stage companies developing innovative consumer products and services, to host the Blackstone Urban Impact Entrepreneurship Summit, which will serve as a major recruitment and outreach tool and be the premier convening for urban innovation.

  • UP Global (Seattle, WA), $200,000 – Our funding will allow UP Global, a global organization dedicated to providing resources and programs to entrepreneurs, to create the spring edition of the “Global Startup Battle” in up to 50 communities, and host an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Symposium.

  • Venture for America (New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA), $200,000 – Our funding will allow Venture for America, an organization that recruits fellows to work for two years at emerging start-ups in lower-cost cities, to build the VFA Accelerator, a business plan development curriculum and training for its 2012 and 2013 fellows.

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see http://www.blackstone.com/foundation.