$60M Gift to Support U-M Entrepreneurship Programs


ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan’s Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has received a pledge of $60 million from the Zell Family Foundation.

The funds will provide endowed support to the institute for continued development of entrepreneurship programs for students and alumni, including $10 million dedicated to a new fund that will invest in new student business ventures. The Zell Family  Foundation and The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Family Foundation originally established the institute with a $10 million gift.

The Zell Lurie Institute is ranked among the top graduate programs in entrepreneurship education by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, and has remained in the top three national programs for three consecutive years.

“Our goal is to accelerate the learning curve and the opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, as well as to build a powerful alumni network,” says Sam Zell, a University of Michigan alumnus and chairman of Equity Group Investments. “Entrepreneurs
 have always been a primary driver of growth for this country. I believe that fostering entrepreneurial education is an investment in the future.”

To further stimulate the entrepreneurial education and network at U-M, the Zell Family Foundation also created ZEAL (the Zell Entrepreneurship and Law Program) at the Law School in 2011. The program includes a clinic to offer free legal advice to Michigan’s burgeoning
 community of student entrepreneurs, and to train law students to serve entrepreneurial ventures.

“The  Zell Lurie Institute is the fuel in the university’s growing entrepreneurial engine,” says Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “Sam and his family foundation’s generous support will ensure that we will not slow down any time  soon, and that we will continue to push the boundaries of entrepreneurial education. Sam invests a significant amount of time in providing vision and direction for the institute, and we benefit tremendously from his practical experience and macro perspective.”

Sam and Helen Zell both have been strong supporters of their alma mater. Under their leadership, the Zell Family Foundation has provided financial support to U-M of more than $150 million.