Blackstone adds Atlanta HBCUs to $40 million education partnership

The Robert W. Woodruff Library is a primary location for Atlanta University Center students to study. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.
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The Robert W. Woodruff Library is a primary location for Atlanta University Center students to study. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

A global investment firm’s charitable foundation is partnering with Atlanta’s three largest historically Black colleges on an effort to help more of its students develop entrepreneurial skills to strengthen their career prospects.

Blackstone announced the partnership Thursday with Clark Atlanta University, Spelman and Morehouse colleges. The company disclosed plans in February to commit $40 million to develop plans to support students, with a focus on colleges and universities that have a majority diverse population or are serving under-resourced communities. The UNCF, which supports the nation’s private HBCUs, is assisting in the campaign.

Blackstone LaunchPad will facilitate access to a network of mentors and advisors, deliver startup resources and offer virtual opportunities for students at the three schools.

“We are thrilled to be supporting these three great schools and their students through Blackstone LaunchPad,” said Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “This partnership is an exciting step in our broader commitment to introduce students from underrepresented communities to entrepreneurial skillsets that are applicable to all future career paths.”

Blackstone is one of several companies that has made major investments over the last year to the Atlanta schools. The HBCUs have historically received lesser financial support from major businesses and philanthropic organizations.

What the colleges are saying

Clark Atlanta University President George T. French Jr.: “If everyone on the CAU campus can understand and develop an entrepreneurial mindset with design thinking at its core, we could develop an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship that would anticipate and solve institutional problems and challenges more effectively and efficiently.”

Morehouse College President David A. Thomas: “Entrepreneurship is singularly transformative in creating equity in society, building wealth within communities, and forming professional pathways for innovative and enterprising people of color like Morehouse men. We fully expect our students to leverage the empowering resources provided through our Blackstone LaunchPad partnership to launch ventures propelled by ideas that reimagine the commercial and social status quo.”

Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell: “Spelman’s goal is to provide our students with the competitive edge they need to excel in any field. Providing access to entrepreneurial insight, training and mentoring through high caliber partnerships, Blackstone LaunchPad is an innovative program our scholars will benefit from for years to come. We are grateful for the investment in our students by Blackstone LaunchPad, which aligns with our new Center for Black Entrepreneurship, and will result in diversifying the pipeline of owners and leaders.”