Kashmere, Worthing, and Wheatley high school students will learn about entrepreneurship in unique new program
Curtis Jackson, known to the world professionally as “50 Cent”, is a world-renowned hip hop artist who has successfully morphed into an actor and stellar businessman.
From selling over 30 million albums worldwide to expanding his brand by investing in Vitaminwater, which allegedly netted him approximately $100 million after the company was sold to Coca-Cola in 2007, and then pursuing other business ventures, “50 Cent” has clearly shown the world how to be a successful entrepreneur.
Learning the entrepreneurship game from someone like “50 Cent” would be a life-changing experience. Well now, thanks to a unique partnership between Jackson, his G-Unity Foundation, Horizon United Group and the Houston Independent School District (HISD), select high school students will get the chance to learn the business skills that define successful entrepreneurship.
The exciting new partnership will bring a groundbreaking initiative, the G-Unity Business Lab, to three high schools located in neighborhoods within Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities initiative – Kashmere, Worthing, and Wheatley – at a time when students most need to reconnect with learning and acquire critical professional skills.
This pilot program is co-funded by Jackson and his G-Unity Foundation which is investing $300,000 over two years, with HISD matching the funds for a total of $600,000.
The rapper-turned-businessman announced that he would be launching the inaugural G-Star program at the trio of HISD high schools at a press conference hosted by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner this past Monday at Houston City Hall, which was also attended by members of the Houston City Council, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, HISD Board President Patricia Allen and HISD trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels.
“It’s great to be giving back to this community that’s already given me so much,” said Jackson. “These young kids can do great things if they just have the right skills and tools. This program is going to help get them there. The G-Unity Foundation made an initial donation of $300,000, which will be matched by the school district.”
During his short tenure in the nation’s most diverse and inclusive city, Jackson has contributed thousands of dollars to bring holiday joy to underprivileged children and earlier this month he was crowned the Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show in the 2021 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. Jackson moved to Houston recently following a yearlong conversation Mayor Turner and others who touted the City’s unique cultural offerings and thriving business community.
“A quality education is the best tool we can give young people to help them succeed in the classroom and prepare for a career,” said Mayor Turner. “I am deeply grateful to Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson for investing in Houston ISD students. This program will have a big impact on the lives of students and their families. It will provide a platform to help young people grow their skillset by learning how to be future entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and business leaders.”
The goals of the G-Unity Lab program align with Mayor Turner’s priorities to create jobs and to prepare young people for employment in startup, technology and innovation opportunities in Houston. In addition to announcing the partnership, Mayor Turner thanked Jackson for investing in the Houston community.
“The fact that this guy (Jackson) is in our city and making this investment will resonate throughout,” said Mayor Turner. “Imagine the impact it will have on the kids. But, in the end, it is all about the children. It is all about them.”
The G-Unity Foundation and its partnership with HISD is Jackson’s latest investment to support education and represents the first flagship investment of Jackson’s philanthropic arm, which just relaunched with a new website (www.gunityfoundation.org) that includes information on the program.
“The G-Unity Foundation’s partnership with HISD will create an immense opportunity for our students to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders,” said HISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan. “By focusing on underserved youth and providing paid internships, the G-Unity Business Lab will help students from low-income households envision a different reality for themselves and their future. We could not set students on a path to success without partners like Curtis Jackson, who see the value and potential of investing in our children.”
The entrepreneurial-focused initiative will offer up to 50 high school students the chance to apply for paid internships and take part in the after-school G-Unity Business Lab program this fall at their home school site. They will be given the chance to learn core business values, as well as develop their own business ideas with major input from business leaders from the Greater Houston area and Jackson himself.
“These opportunities are huge opportunities that I didn’t have,” said Jackson. “Being able to provide that in the early stages, I think it changes the direction and the choices that they will make. It prevents them from making some of the mistakes that I made.”
Beginning in the fall of 2021, selected students from Kashmere, Worthing, and Wheatley high schools will work with HISD educators, Houston business leaders, and the G-Unity Foundation to complete an after-school course that teaches MBA concepts aligned with Curtis Jackson’s book, Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter.
“We got some smart kids. To have this type of program in school – in these communities, in these neighborhood schools – will make all the difference,” said Mayor Turner. “Going into their communities, into their neighborhoods, it says that we see you, we recognize you, we respect you, and we want to invest in you. That’s just huge.”
Students in the lab will engage in MBA-level lessons that represent the full lifecycle of a product or concept, from idea creation, to market branding, to even running a company. The vision is to create substantial, transformational change for the students, as well as their families and the surrounding communities.
“The three schools were chosen because they are schools that we have provided additional resources and support over the past several years,” said Interim Superintendent Lathan. “Curtis wanted to work with those types of students. We have so many wonderful opportunities in this city and in our school district for our students. I’m really excited they’ll have the opportunity to learn from someone so successful.”
In the 12-week program, students will learn foundational business methods, like writing a formal business plan or bookkeeping, and will meet twice a week for 2 hours after school. The classes will take place on campus, eliminating the need for additional transportation.
The program will culminate in a “Shark Tank” style competition where students will present their business ideas to business owners and allow them to receive seed funding to start their own business that are incubated in Houston. The competition will be judged by Jackson; Al Kashani, President of Horizon United Group; and other community leaders.