ATLANTA – Feb. 3, 2022 – Spelman College today announced a $10 million grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation to support an on-campus creative hub for young entrepreneurs.
The funding will establish the Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab. Formerly known as the Spelman Innovation Lab, the space is a campus-wide resource for entrepreneurial ideation, unconventional research, experimental pedagogy and exploratory play.
The Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab will form a hub for creative inquiry in Spelman’s new Center for Innovation & the Arts, a state-of-the-art learning environment slated to open in 2024. In addition to cutting edge technology tools, the Lab will house the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE), which will guide students through an entrepreneurship curriculum and a number of rich co-curricular activities, that will serve as the foundation for the creation of new businesses and bridge the gap between students with competitive ideas and venture capital firms.
Spelman plans to house the CBE’s curriculum in the Department of Economics. Popular programs, like Spelpreneur, will live in the dynamic Lab, where many of Spelman’s entrepreneurs already gather.
“This tremendous gift will allow the College to build on an existing culture of strong innovation and entrepreneurship activity that will help grow a pool of Black entrepreneurs” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “Through the support of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation our new Center for Black Entrepreneurship will have a home for our budding entrepreneurs where they can build community with other entrepreneurs, artists, creators and innovators.”
Tools available in the Lab include 3D printers, laser cutters, 4-axis CNC router, and a 3D scanner along with many other conventional hand tools and power tools that make prototyping of just about anything possible in one space.
“Today’s young entrepreneurs will play an important role in solving many of our society’s most critical issues, and we’re pleased to support Spelman in creating a place where students can come together to share and test ideas that will also create more opportunities for positive engagement and growth with the local Westside community,” said Arthur M. Blank, chairman, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “I’m also personally proud to support the alma mater of Rosalind Brewer, Spelman Board Trustee and Blank Family Foundation Associate Board Member, who often champions her experience at Spelman and the impact that it’s had on her success.”
About The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
After 25 years and more than $800 million in giving, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed to significantly accelerating the impact of its philanthropy over the next 10+ years.
The Board is embarking on a journey of deeper learning and strategy setting for its new collective areas of giving, which include: Youth Development, with a focus on workforce development and economic mobility; Democracy, with a focus on key areas of Voting Rights, and Journalism; and Environment, with a focus on key areas of Conservation and Climate Resiliency. Across these portfolios, the foundation will look for opportunities to address the growing crisis of disconnection in our nation. Geographically, much of the work will continue to prioritize Georgia (with a focus on Atlanta) and Montana, while also considering the potential for greater national impact and influence.
In addition to the collective areas of giving, the foundation will continue to oversee a large portfolio of founder-led initiatives, including investment in the transformation of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods, mental health and well-being, veterans and the military, and stuttering, among others. The foundation will also continue to guide the seven Associate-led giving committees operating across the Blank Family of Businesses.
Mr. Blank, chairman of the foundation, co-founded The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, in 1978 and retired from the company as co-chairman in 2001.
For more information and to stay up to date, visit www.blankfoundation.org.
About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 24 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 15th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and collaborations have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones.
For more information, visit Spelman College.