Home Depot cofounder Arthur Blank has distributed hundreds of millions through grants from his family foundation since its formation in 1995. But none of the gifts were as large as this one.
The Atlanta Falcons owner has decided to give $50 million to his alma mater, Babson College in Wellesley, to establish the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. It’s not only the biggest donation for Blank’s foundation, it’s also the largest single gift that Babson has received. (Bob and Jan Weissman have given more to Babson, over time.)
The money will be used in various ways to create an interdisciplinary program at the college: need-based scholarships, a new chairmanship for values-based entrepreneurial leadership, and developing an “entrepreneurial village” on campus.
“We selected Babson for the largest grant we have ever given . . . not really because I went to college there, but because Babson has earned it,” says Blank, who graduated from Babson in 1963. “We are thrilled to be able to invest in young people and invest in their opportunities to make a difference in the world. It’s a unique opportunity for us.”
Babson president Steve Spinelli says he reached out to Blank soon after Spinelli returned to Babson as president-to-be in January. He had known Blank, one of Babson’s most high-profile graduates, for years and had always been impressed with his thoughtfulness and intellect.
“We’re one of the vehicles he’s using to reach out and to proverbially make a better world,” Spinelli says. “He’s pretty action-oriented. A lot of us talk . . . He does stuff.”
Spinelli hopes Babson will eventually be able to offer doctorates in entrepreneurial leadership through the new school.
The “entrepreneurial village” will be created either by renovating an existing structure or building anew. Spinelli wants to see a residential component there, too. Babson officials are still fleshing out the concept.
The gift from Blank comes as Spinelli and his team are in the midst of an ambitious strategic planning process for the school.
“The robust support for this kind of thinking in our strategic planning process has got me fired up,” Spinelli says. “Supporters and philanthropists need to be part of the strategic planning, not separate from it.”
Cinema chain adding screens in Boston
We’ve seen a surge of new movie screens in Boston lately. Wonder why? It turns out that our city has one of the highest rates of movie-going in the country, when you compare box-office receipts with the city’s population.
That’s according to Vincent Szwajkowski, chief marketing officer at ArcLight Cinemas. ArcLight will be responsible for the latest major new moviehouse to open in Boston, after ArcLight’s 15-screen theater opens on Nov. 22 in the massive Hub on Causeway project developed by Boston Properties and Delaware North.
Two other movie complexes that opened in the past two years are the AMC 12-screen complex at South Bay, and the 10-screen ShowPlace Icon in the Seaport. The ArcLight cinema will feature one theater with the capability to show 70-millimeter films; only one other such screen in Boston exists, at the AMC Boston Common.
ArcLight, a Los Angeles-based chain owned by Decurion Corp., tends to operate in affluent, urban centers – and Boston fits the bill.
“Boston has been on the company’s list [of desired markets] for probably about 10 years,” Szwajkowski says.
ArcLight also takes pride in not allowing people into theaters if they arrive late for a movie. But Swajkowski concedes that the company cuts film fans a little slack right after it opens in a new city.
“When we enter new markets, it’s a little bit of a delicate balance because people don’t understand it,” he says. “People might get a little upset about it, but when they understand the why behind it, there’s a level of appreciation.”