The University of La Verne announced Wednesday it has received a $2 million gift from real estate executive and philanthropist Randall Lewis to create an entrepreneurship center in Ontario.
The Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact will focus on increasing the economic power and impact of University of La Verne students, alumni, regional businesses and nonprofit and community organizations, according to Marilyn Thomsen, the University of La Verne’s director, public and media relations.
The center will provide entrepreneurial training for several learning cohorts each year and integrate academic and hands-on approaches to job creation and long-term career support, with a special emphasis on underserved communities in the region, Thomsen said.
“I am delighted to partner once again with the University of La Verne on a project that will generate real and positive change in the communities of Inland Southern California,” Lewis said.
“By blending academic excellence with on-the-ground training and experience, we will empower students and existing business owners alike to strengthen their own economic health, and by extension, that of the region as a whole. The university’s commitment to underserved communities, as well as its proven track record in social and economic innovation, make it the perfect home for this new center.”
The center will be located in Ontario, where the University of La Verne already has a presence through its College of Law. The new Lewis Center will complement the city’s Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art business facility, and enable the university to expand its innovative educational outreach to the surrounding community. Additional locations are also possible at regional University of La Verne campus sites such as Bakersfield, Irvine, and Burbank.
“Randall Lewis has done it again,” University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman said. “As one of our most actively engaged supporters, Mr. Lewis shares our mission for serving and supporting inland Southern California and beyond. We are profoundly grateful to partner with him to create an unparalleled and impactful economic resource for our region.”
The Randall Lewis Center will integrate faculty expertise from all four existing University of La Verne colleges and partner with offices such as the Small Business Development Center, the Office of Civic and Community Engagement and The La Verne Experience.
Its programming will be guided by a cadre of professors, community advocates and investors. Strategic partnerships will be developed at the local, regional, national, and international levels, with a special focus on current and future businesses owned and operated by women, minorities and veterans, according to Thomsen.