Blackstone Charitable Foundation Gives $5M to University of Texas Institutions to Expand Its Entrepreneurship Program

The Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program, which has been at UT Dallas since 2016, is opening to a more diverse range of students by expanding to six new campuses. Locally, that includes UT Southwestern.

The Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program is officially expanding from two to eight campuses in the University of Texas System, a move that will bring critical access to resources, opportunities, and mentorship to a more diverse range of students.

The $5 million expansion of the Blackstone LaunchPad network will allow UT students to broaden their ideas outside of the classroom. The program will now be available at UT El Paso, UT Permian Basin, UT Rio Grande Valley, UT San Antonio, UT Medical Branch, and UT Southwestern, in addition to the already-established UT Austin and UT Dallas.

UT Austin and UT Dallas have led the way for the program, originally becoming LaunchPad sites in 2016. In total, more than 60,000 students have had access to the programming, with more than 14,000 engaging annually.

But on a global level, LaunchPad has affected some 750,000 students with its 24 campuses in the U.S. and Ireland.

The LaunchPad opportunities available include events, mentorships, and an exclusive network of business professionals who can assist in a student’s entrepreneurial ventures. Emerging student entrepreneurs are also provided help in navigating the complex world of startups: raising money, job placement, product launches, and recruiting team members.

Blackstone LaunchPad also offers a seasonal 8-week fellowship called Future Founders, which gives students $5,000 in non-dilutive grant funding to advance their ventures.

Of the six new campuses, four are designated Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), according to a statement. With the announcement, LaunchPad will be able to double the number of HSIs in its network, which it says shows a commitment to increasing inclusion in student entrepreneurship.

“Expanding LaunchPad to more UT institutions helps develop a more robust pipeline of student entrepreneurs in Texas,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said in a statement. “This experience will encourage them to generate new ideas and someday launch companies and drive job growth.”

LaunchPad is supported by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, which established the program back in 2008. Eight years later, the foundation partnered with Techstars to offer participants access to its network of more than 10,000 mentors and signature events.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded in 2007 at the same time as global investment firm Blackstone’s initial public offering. It is said to be inspired by the firm and its founders to direct resources and apply intellectual capital to foster entrepreneurship.

“We are incredibly excited to help student entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition,” Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said in a statement. “LaunchPad provides an invaluable experience by helping students acquire entrepreneurial skills that will help them contribute to Texas’ economic growth and prepare them for today’s workforce.”

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