A $10 million grant to Spelman College from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation was recently announced in support of an on-campus creative hub for young entrepreneurs and innovators.
The funding will establish the Arthur M. Blank Innovation Lab, formerly known as the Spelman Innovation Lab, and will be a campus-wide space and 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 work closely with the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE), and the entrepreneurship minor in Spelman’s Department of Economics to provide a host of rich co-curricular activities.
Popular programs, like Spelpreneur, will work out of the dynamic Innovation Lab where upcoming entrepreneurs and innovators across multiple disciplines can collaborate on new ideas to solve old problems.
“This momentous 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 president of Spelman, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “Through the support of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation the college can expand its existing Innovation Lab, where the entrepreneurial mindset flourishes at Spelman amidst a community of artists, entrepreneurs, creators and innovators.”
The Lab will include tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, 4-axis CNC router, and a 3D scanner in addition to a variety of 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 chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Arthur M. Blank. “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.”
In fall 2022, CBE’s minor developed jointly with Morehouse College, with advice and guidance from the Black Economic Alliance, will launch in Spelman’s Department of Economics and Morehouse’s Division of Business Administration and Economics.
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.