Program Overview

As part of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s five-year, $50 million Entrepreneurship Initiative, we launched our first Blackstone LaunchPad in Detroit in 2010. In partnership with the White House’s Startup America Initiative, the Foundation agreed to take the Blackstone LaunchPad program to five regions over a 5-year period. Montana is the fourth of these five regions. In partnership with the University of Montana and Montana State University, the Foundation has pledged a $2 million, three-year grant to establish a Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana’s two oldest universities, with Headwaters RC&D serving as the regional partner.

Blackstone LaunchPad, developed at the University of Miami, is designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduates and graduate students for the purpose of incubating a new generation of entrepreneurs who will contribute to the economic revitalization of their regions.

The Blackstone LaunchPad goals are simple:

  • Work with students one-on-one to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and allow them to test their business ideas;

  • Leverage campus resources and local business communities to build a tighter network of support and resources that will provide the skills, knowledge, and guidance to transform new ideas into viable companies.  

  • Help young ventures succeed and in so doing contribute to the economic rebirth of local economies;

  • Link Blackstone LaunchPads from different regions to share expert networks and best practices.

Unlike traditional business programs available to limited school populations or students who are enrolled in specific classes, Blackstone LaunchPad will be open to all 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Montana and Montana State University regardless of major.

In addition to providing new skills and resources to individual student entrepreneurs, Blackstone LaunchPad helps builds a denser regional network of partner organizations and serial entrepreneurs in support of new ventures.  

Blackstone LaunchPad increases economic activity and creates a stronger regional entrepreneur ecosystem that benefits everyone, not just students.

Through its venture assessment, coaching, and expert connections Blackstone LaunchPad Montana programs are expected to help student entrepreneurs launch some 380 ventures and hundreds of jobs over the next five years.

About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, go to http://www.blackstone.com/citizenship/the-blackstone-charitable-foundation.

About The University of Montana

Nestled in the heart of western Montana’s stunning natural landscape, the University of Montana is a place where top-tier students, educators and researchers from across the country and around the globe come and thrive. The University draws a diverse population to Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city, and helps cultivate an educated, engaged and vibrant community. Roughly 15,000 students attend UM and Missoula College, where they receive a world-class education in a broad range of subjects that include the trades, liberal arts, graduate and postdoctoral study and professional training. For more information, go to http://www.umt.edu.

About Montana State University

Montana State University, located in Bozeman, is the state's first land-grant university and has strengths in engineering, the sciences, agriculture, business and nursing as well as the humanities and arts. With a record $112.3 million in research last year, MSU is one of only 51 universities in the nation to enjoy both the “Very High Research Activity” and the “Community Engagement” designations of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Of those 51, MSU is the only institution whose Carnegie enrollment profile is “very high undergraduate.” These recognitions underscore the profile of the student graduating from MSU: one who is enthusiastic about educational opportunities, committed to research and the discovery of new knowledge, and has a profound sense of community engagement. For more information, go to http://www.montana.edu.