Mayor Sylvester Turner hosted a news conference Monday to announce a unique partnership between rapper, actor, and philanthropist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, his G-Unity Foundation, and the Houston Independent School District.
Jackson, Horizon United Group, and HISD have joined forces to help high school students learn the business skills that define successful entrepreneurship.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, HISD Board President Patricia Allen and school trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels also attended today’s announcement. The partnership will bring a groundbreaking initiative, the G-Unity Business Lab, to three high schools—Kashmere, Worthing, and Wheatley—at a time when students most need to reconnect with learning and acquire critical professional skills. The three schools are located in neighborhoods within Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities initiative.
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 running a company. At the end of eleven weeks, the program will culminate in a “Shark Tank” style competition that will be judged by Curtis Jackson, Al Kashani, President of Horizon United Group, and other business leaders. The winners will receive seed money to begin their businesses, incubated in Houston.
“It’s great to be giving back to this community that’s already given me so much. 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,” said Curtis Jackson. The G-Unity Foundation made an initial donation of $300,000, which will be matched by the school district.
“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.”
This initiative represents the first flagship investment of Curtis Jackson‘s philanthropic arm, the G-Unity Foundation, which just relaunched with a new website that includes information on the program.
“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 Houston Mayor Sylvester 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 prepare young people for employment in startup, technology and innovation opportunities in Houston. In addition to announcing the partnership, the mayor thanked Jackson for investing in the Houston community.
The rapper moved to Houston recently following a yearlong conversation with the mayor and others who touted the city’s unique cultural offerings and thriving business community.
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. The G-Unity partnership with HISD is Jackson‘s latest investment to support education.
“The fact that this guy (Jackson) is in our city and making this investment will resonate throughout. Imagine the impact it will have on the kids. But, in the end, it is all about the children. It is all about them,” said Mayor Turner.