ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A foundation has given $60 million to the University of Michigan for students and alumni entrepreneurship programs.

The pledge from the Zell Family Foundation was made to the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

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It includes $10 million for a new fund that will invest in new student business ventures.

Sam Zell says in a statement that the “goal is to accelerate the learning curve and the opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, as well as to build a powerful alumni network,” said Sam Zell, a University of Michigan alumnus and chairman of Equity Group Investments.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies was established with a $10 million gift from the Zell and Lurie family foundations.

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.

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Helen Zell, executive director of the Zell Family Foundation, is a 1964 graduate of U-M’s Department of English Language and Literature and is a 2013 recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university.

The foundation provides significant ongoing support for the university’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program, now known as the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. It is a two-year graduate program in creative writing with a concentration in either fiction or poetry that leads to a Master of Fine Arts degree.

The program also provides each student with the opportunity for a “Zellowship,” a post-graduate year of financial support that enables writers to dedicate their time solely to writing.

The Zell Family Foundation has provided more than $150 million in financial support to the university.


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