AUSTIN, Texas — Kendra Scott, founder and executive chairwoman of the Kendra Scott, LLC global accessories brand headquartered in Austin, has committed a corporate and personal philanthropic investment to The University of Texas at Austin that will expand entrepreneurship offerings at UT to help more than 24,000 women pursue their business aspirations in the coming decade.
“Kendra’s investment will transform the lives of thousands of future leaders, and all of society will reap the benefits,” said Jay Hartzell, president of UT Austin. “I am thrilled she is expanding her partnership with UT to attract top talent and leverage the strength of our city and university as an engine for entrepreneurship.”
A combination of personal and company investments will create a $13.25 million endowment to provide expansion and support in perpetuity for the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (KS WELI), a cross-disciplinary program among the College of Fine Arts, the McCombs School of Business, the College of Natural Sciences and The LaunchPad in Undergraduate Studies that empowers, equips and builds a community for women and creatives traditionally underrepresented in entrepreneurial roles.
The investment will seed and launch the Women in Entrepreneurship (WiE) Specialization in fall 2022, a partnership with the McCombs School of Business giving students the opportunity to earn a minor in entrepreneurship.
“This gift is about supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” said Kendra Scott, philanthropist, designer and professor of practice at UT’s College of Fine Arts. “Since the inception of the KS WELI in 2019, I’ve loved seeing UT create a space where women are not only inspired, but also motivated to be leaders in business and to use their knowledge, skills and energy to keep changing the world and outdated business stereotypes. Through this new gift, women will continue to dismantle barriers and forge ahead to redefine entrepreneurship for many years to come.”
“Since 2019, the KS WELI has supported more than three dozen women-led startups and engaged with and equipped thousands of students through rigorous coursework, mentorships and enriching workshops, and this investment will help us continue to make an impact,” said Lesley Robinson, founding director of the KS WELI.
This new corporate and personal investment from Scott supports UT’s What Starts Here fundraising campaign — the largest campaign in Texas higher education history. The university publicly launched the campaign on March 4 with a goal to raise $6 billion, with $1 billion earmarked for scholarships and student support programs such as the KS WELI.