A partnership between Blackstone LaunchPad and three Atlanta University Center (AUC) schools will bring new opportunities for entrepreneurial development to students.

Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University (CAU) are going to be the first HBCUs to join the Blackstone LaunchPad Network.

“At Blackstone LaunchPad we were looking at— regionally, where we can have the most impact,” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said.

Each school will each have an on-campus LaunchPad where students can network, workshop ideas and learn business skills.

The LaunchPad will build upon existing infrastructure at each school. The CAU Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED), the Spelman Design and Innovation Lab and the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC) have been working with students to follow their entrepreneurial passions.

Dr. Tiffany Bussey executive director of the MEIC said that each school’s LaunchPad will cater to the interests of their student body.

“We know that our students are interested in sports, entertainment, music and venture capital, so those will be focus areas for the Morehouse LaunchPad,” Bussey said.

However, if a Spelman or CAU student is interested in sports or venture capital they will have full access to the Morehouse LaunchPad. AUC students can use whichever LaunchPad best fits their needs.

CAU President George French said he is excited for the opportunities for growth and mentorship the partnership will bring to his campus.

“These students have the entrepreneurial spirit, they want to build their own businesses,” French said. “Blackstone LaunchPad brings mentors to campus, our students won’t have to make the same mistakes older entrepreneurs made.”

The vast mentor network at Blackstone has already been implemented in other colleges across the country.

“It’s that practical real-life experience with that mentor that makes a major difference,” Bussey said.

In addition to expanding mentorship, the Blackstone partnership will bring their expansive list of corporate partners that the AUC schools will now have access to.

“We learned early on not to come to a campus with our own program to impose, but to work with campuses to expand and enhance, to support what they are already doing,” Stursberg said.

President French added that through the LaunchPad, student entrepreneurs can get help in setting up their businesses.

“Whether it’s a nonprofit, a 501(c)(3) or an LLC. They will go deeper than just selling the product; also how to produce and market their product,” French said.

Dr. Bussey is excited for this program to highlight the young entrepreneurs at Morehouse, CAU and Spelman.

She said that they are in contact with other HBCUs in the southeast who are interested in creating similar programs on their campuses.

Photo Credit: Morehouse College

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