Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami“The University of Miami created The Launch Pad to help students use their education to start new businesses, find viable careers in entrepreneurship, and create jobs. The Blackstone LaunchPad program enables us to share our model of entrepreneurship education with our sister institutions around the nation. It is a particular pleasure for us to join forces with the University of Central Florida to help strengthen the communities and economies of our state, and we are deeply grateful to the vision and support of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for making this unique private-public university partnership possible.” Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and UCF Board Trustee “The major business leaders in Central Florida have a history of working together to foster entrepreneurial talents and ideas for the economic health of the region. We all know how businesses thrive when innovation and growth is supported. The Blackstone LaunchPad will encourage this on an individual level, developing and supporting our next generation of entrepreneurs with invaluable counsel and networking resources.” About The Blackstone Charitable Foundation: The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of The Blackstone Group’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, see http://www.blackstone.com/citizenship/the-blackstone-charitable-foundation). About The University of Central Florida: The University of Central Florida, the nation’s second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, is celebrating its 50 th anniversary in 2013. UCF has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation, and today the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. Known as America’s leading partnership university, UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s success now and into the future. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.