Los Angeles Business Journal

Blackstone Foundation Makes Entrepreneurship Grants

By Howard Fine Friday, February 21, 2014

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation on Friday announced it was making a $3.5 million grant to three local universities to set up an entrepreneur support program.

The three-year LaunchPad program at UCLA, USC and UC Irvine will provide 110,000 students at the three schools access to venture coaches and a support system for new business ventures. It’s the sixth such program the Blackstone Foundation has set up over the last four years; others include schools in Florida, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Through Blackstone LaunchPad, students have access to the right tools to take their ideas to market and to truly become successful entrepreneurs, with their ventures rooted in California,” Blackstone Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement at the program’s unveiling Friday in downtown Los Angeles.

The foundation is a charitable arm of the Blackstone Group investment firm in New York.

Leaders of UCLA and USC said the program will boost their efforts to bring new ventures to market.

“The expanded access and flexibility afforded by this program…will provide a strong foundation for creating new ventures that enhance both our academic community and the Southern California region,” said Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. and the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti helped bring Blackstone’s program to the region.

“With the resources of Blackstone’s Launch Pad and the venture coaches we will be supplying, we will now be able to help many dreamers and innovators turn their ideas into successful new companies that will form the foundation of our future economy,” said Bill Allen, chief executive of the LAEDC.