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Queens College Receives $446,500 from Blackstone Charitable Foundation to Implement Entrepreneurial Skills-Building Program for Students

October 5, 2021, Flushing, New York—Queens College has received a three-year, $446,500 award from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to implement Blackstone LaunchPad (BLP), an entrepreneurial skills-building program for students. QC’s Office of the Provost, Business School, and Center for Career Engagement and Internships are spearheading this initiative, available to students in any major. Queens College is among nine CUNY colleges chosen as BLP partners in 2021, receiving a total of $6 million in funding. The BLP network, founded in 2008, now encompasses 46 schools in the United States and Ireland.

“As we emerge from a pandemic that has recalibrated the future of work, programs like Blackstone LaunchPad are essential to ensuring that our economic recovery embraces and extends to all New Yorkers proportionately and equitably,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “We thank the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for its commitment to CUNY and our students, and for supporting institutions of higher learning that share our bedrock values of diversity and inclusion.”

“We are deeply proud to join the innovative Blackstone LaunchPad program,” said Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “By connecting students with mentors, internships, and job opportunities, BLP encourages students to pursue entrepreneurship in any industry. As the college’s alumni advance in their careers, contributing to the economy, our city and state will greatly benefit from Blackstone’s commitment to higher education institutions that serve under-resourced communities.” 

Issued while QC formed its dedicated business school, the Blackstone award is especially timely, added Interim Dean of Social Sciences Kate Pechenkina, BLP Academic Champion. “As we open the QC Business School, ‘the Business School of tomorrow,’ the Blackstone LaunchPad will foster the culture of innovation for our growing community of entrepreneurs of the future,” said Pechenkina.
Social entrepreneurship—organizing a group to pursue novel applications that have the potential to solve community-based problems—is likely to hold particular appeal at Queens College, in keeping with its motto, ‘We learn so that we may serve.’ Whatever their goals, BLP students will have opportunities to participate in business pitch competitions, ventures, conferences, workshops, and speaker series. 
Blackstone LaunchPad teams are led by individual campus directors; at QC, that role is held by Economics Professor Luc Marest. “Blackstone LaunchPad is a fantastic opportunity for students to know more about entrepreneurship, to acquire entrepreneurship skills, to start a business, and to develop networks,” said Marest, who is working with faculty entrepreneur fellows Jamaal Glenn (Business and Liberal Arts), Charles Kelly (Business and Liberal Arts), Steven Leventhal (Business and Liberal Arts), Cara Marshall (Economics), Karl Mitchell (Economics), Diane Shults (Career Center), Steven Solieri (Accounting and Information Systems), Schiro Withanachchi (Economics), and Jian Xiao (Accounting and Information Systems).    
“In a transforming local and global economy, it’s important in the modern workforce to have an intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial mindset; determination, flexibility and creativity are crucial qualities,” said BLP Administrative Leader and Director of the Center for Career Engagement and Internships Zavi Gunn. “During college, students need a community of support and a physical space that would accelerate their practical experience, skills, and career progression.”

About Queens College
Queens College produces more education graduates who become principals, teachers, and counselors for the city’s public schools than any other college in the metropolitan area. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors, and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations. 
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its more than 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college has been cited by Princeton Review as one of America's Best Value Colleges for four consecutive years, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more​.
About Blackstone LaunchPad
Founded in 2008, Blackstone LaunchPad has been committed for over a decade to helping students, with a focus that has evolved from supporting student ventures to include entrepreneurial skill-building so students can succeed in any career they choose. It complements existing on-campus offerings with curated content and resources to deliver experiential learning and entrepreneurship skill-building. It serves as a concierge to students navigating the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem; catalyzes students and their ventures through connections to mentors and professional development opportunities; and convenes students and staff at global events leveraging our industry-leading brands and global networks. Read more here.

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