For the foundation, it’s the largest-ever amount of money they’ve awarded. For the school receiving it, it’s another reason to call themselves the global leaders in entrepreneurship education.
Babson College announced Tuesday (November 19) that it has received a $50 million investment from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, whose mission is to promote innovative solutions to transform the lives of young people and their families. With the money, Babson will establish the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership to “create opportunities for the entire Babson community to lead change, solve global problems, and create sustainable value across business and society through learning, teaching, research, and engagement in entrepreneurial practice,” according to the school’s announcement.
“The best companies provide world-class service to their customers and their communities,” said Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot, chairman of the Blank Family of Businesses, and Class of 1963 Babson College alumnus. “The next horizon of business education is equipping and connecting more entrepreneurial leaders who create solutions and growth by putting people first, leading by example, and giving back to others, especially to those in need. Values-driven entrepreneurship is good for the bottom line and for society.
“As a world-class leader in business education, Babson College is perfectly positioned to blaze this new path,” continued Blank. “I’m continually inspired by Babson students, faculty, and its global alumni network. I’m excited to see how they will continue to change businesses and communities for the better.”
ARTHUR BLANK: ‘GAME-CHANGING ICON OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP’
The $50 million grant is the largest ever in the 25-year history of the Blank Family Foundation. In March, U.S. News named Babson’s Olin Graduate School of Business the top B-school for entrepreneurship for the 26th straight year; in its overall ranking, U.S. News placed Babson 63rd, up 20 places from the previous year. Poets&Quants ranks Babson 55th in the U.S.; last month we ranked Babson third overall in our inaugural ranking of global entrepreneurship programs.
Babson has long been shorthand for “great entrepreneurship program” but in the last year the Wellesley, Massachusetts-based school has really taken its game to another level. Last fall Babson opened a new campus in Miami, Florida; Dean Keith Rollag told P&Q that in 2019 the school would continue to “reimagine” its MBA, exploring ways to “make it more entrepreneurial, more relevant, more adaptable for the future. As the market for graduate education is evolving, we’ll make sure that our MBA is evolving with it.” That was to include the school’s continuing efforts to strengthen its focus on family entrepreneurship, including hiring more faculty and expanding into the Babson Institute For Family Entrepreneurship.
Earlier this year, Babson announced a $300 million fundraising campaign that would achieve those goals while also focusing on “inspiring and empowering entrepreneurial leaders who will change the world.” Calling it a “strategic principle,” Babson is looking to “expand partnerships that enable experiential learning and giving back to the community, increase access and diversity, and amplify the impact Babson’s people, programs, and research have on businesses and communities from Boston and Atlanta to cities and regions around the world.”
“As a game-changing icon of entrepreneurship and one of America’s leading philanthropists, Arthur Blank has transformed business and culture,” Babson College President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said in the school’s announcement. “With this groundbreaking partnership between the Blank Family Foundation and Babson College, Mr. Blank’s investment will dramatically enhance our students’ experience and help them develop the values-based, entrepreneurial leadership skills that will address grand challenges and positively impact any organization, from large corporations and investment firms to nonprofit agencies and new ventures.
“More than ever before, people at all stages of their lives and careers need the mindset and skills of an entrepreneur to thrive in rapidly changing environments and provide leadership that makes a meaningful impact and generates growth. At Babson’s Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership, every member of Babson’s global ecosystem will have the opportunity to build and practice advanced skills so that they change the world through the innovations they introduce, the problems they solve, the jobs they create, and the sustainable values they instill in the organizations they impact.”
WHERE THE MONEY WILL GO
To advance its strategic priorities, the new entrepreneurial leadership school will provide need-based scholarships for low-income students “who show promise as entrepreneurial leaders but would not otherwise be able to afford college,” as well as more experiential learning, more co-curricular activities through Babson’s well-known entrepreneurial centers and institutes, and funding for applied research, including research into “practical, actionable outcomes to expand global understanding of entrepreneurship and address societal challenges.”
The funds also will support the creation of the Blank Chair in Values-based Entrepreneurial Leadership to “shape entrepreneurial leaders who are inclusive, innovative, and prepared to be community caretakers who change the world”; and the development of an “Entrepreneurial Village” to expand and enhance dedicated space for ” collaborative learning and experimentation.”
“For five decades, Arthur Blank has inspired countless Babson students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” said Marla Capozzi, chair, Babson College Board of Trustees. “As the College embarks on its second century, the collaboration with the Blank Family Foundation will define the next chapter in entrepreneurship education. This powerful relationship will fuel the passions and capabilities of future generations of business leaders who will change companies, communities, and the world for the better.”