SOURCE: Kauffman Foundation

September 16, 2008 09:00 ET

Kauffman Foundation Announces $500,000 Grant to 'Bizdom U' to Spur Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in Detroit

Foundation Believes Success of Detroit Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Can Serve as an Economic Development Model for Other Urban Areas

KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwire - September 16, 2008) - The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced a $500,000 grant to Bizdom U, a Detroit, Mich.-based program that provides comprehensive, real-world training for aspiring entrepreneurs. Kauffman Foundation funds will assist Bizdom U in preparing an additional 10 entrepreneurs who will launch innovative, high-tech businesses in downtown Detroit by the end of 2009.

An intensive residential program established in 2007 by Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, the one-year, tuition-free Bizdom U "entrepreneurship boot camp" is designed to empower Detroit's future leaders to start and lead successful businesses.

The curriculum, taught by instructors with real-world business experience, covers the skills and knowledge necessary to open and run a successful business, including marketing, business law, finance, real estate and developing business plans. Bizdom students receive mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and guest speakers such as NBA star-turned-entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Gilbert himself. In addition to free tuition, room and board, entrepreneurs receive free laptops and Blackberries.

Upon completion of the curriculum, graduates are each required to develop a plan for a new, Detroit-based venture and will receive Bizdom U's assistance in acquiring $25,000 to $500,000 in startup funding for each business. They also receive a share of ownership in the business and an opportunity to earn larger shares over time.

Bizdom U is a non-profit, self-sustaining program. It shares ownership in the new businesses and will funnel proceeds back into the program to prepare future entrepreneurs and help finance their startups, creating new waves of entrepreneurs and jobs for Detroit.

The Kauffman Foundation is studying innovative entrepreneurial training models, such as Bizdom U's, as a way to stimulate economic growth in urban areas across the country.

"We have a profound interest in seeing cities, states and regions grow their economies through innovation and entrepreneurship," said Bo Fishback, Kauffman's vice president of entrepreneurship. "Bizdom U is an outstanding entrepreneur-training model that is scalable, sustainable, and replicable in other cities. Knowing that the Bizdom U was created by Dan Gilbert, an entrepreneur with proven success in mentoring other entrepreneurs, gives us confidence that a model like this could accelerate urban entrepreneurship elsewhere."

Gilbert established Bizdom U with the belief that entrepreneurship is essential to the revitalization of Detroit and any urban area. His goal for Bizdom U is to create jobs and growth for Detroit and help revitalize the city's urban core by transforming it into an innovative, knowledge-based, entrepreneurial economy.

"A key to economic development is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, not government programs, create businesses, jobs and growth for a city," Gilbert said. "The Kauffman Foundation's commitment extends beyond providing funding to prepare new entrepreneurs. The Foundation's global perspective and knowledge of entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide will help us strengthen our ability to foster entrepreneurship right here in Detroit."

Bizdom U's inaugural class graduated in June and is expected to generate six new Detroit-based businesses in industries that include mobile marketing, online retail and organic food distribution. An additional class began in July 2008 and will begin launching new businesses in one year.

More information about Bizdom U is available at www.bizdom.com.

About the Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. It also works to prepare students to be innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the 21st century economy through initiatives designed to improve learning in math, engineering, science and technology. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has more than $2.4 billion in assets. Further information about the Kauffman Foundation is available at www.kauffman.org.

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