In collaboration with existing departments, schools, and centers at the university, the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship will support a student-centered and faculty-led initiative aimed at providing students with a strong academic grounding in entrepreneurship coupled with applied experiences and mentorship opportunities. To that end, the center will support a range of co-curricular activities, including the Brown Breakthrough Lab, a program that teaches venture development; the Faculty Engagement Research + Scholarship (FEAST) program for faculty committed to exploring entrepreneurship and innovation as fields of study; and challenges designed to inspire students to develop practical solutions to society's most pressing problems. The gift also will fund planning for a facility to house classrooms, work space, and areas for entrepreneurs-in-residence, faculty, and students to collaborate on new ventures.
The founder and CEO of Providence Equity Partners, Nelson became a member of Brown's board of trustees in 2000, was elected to the board of fellows in 2011, and currently co-chairs the university's $3 billion fundraising campaign. A 2012 signatory to the Giving Pledge, he previously made gifts to the university to create endowed professorships and build the Nelson Fitness Center.
"Embedded in Brown's culture is a desire of students to make a positive difference in the world," said Nelson. "In many cases this is ultimately expressed by students seeking to provide a service or product through innovation. The vision for this center is to provide the tools and real-world exposure that will increase the chances of success for Brown students aspiring to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs. Achieving this goal has widespread implications as entrepreneurship is playing an increasingly important role in driving progress around the world."