50 Cent, HISD announce new student entrepreneur program

With a post on social media –complete with the Astrodome in the background and an Astros hat atop his head—50 Cent announced earlier this month that he was moving to Houston. The reason? His caption simply read “I’ll explain later.”

That reason, it turns out, was in part to support students in the Houston Independent School District.

The rapper-turned-businessman, born Curtis Jackson but known better as 50 Cent, announced at a press conference that he would be launching the inaugural G-Star program at a trio of HISD high schools.

The entrepreneurial-focused initiative will offer high school students the chance to apply for paid internships as well as take part in the G-Unity Business Lab. They will be given the chance to learn core business values, as well as develop their own business ideas with major input from Houston business leaders and 50 Cent himself.

“These opportunities are huge opportunities that I didn’t have,” Jackson said. “Being able to provide that in the early stages, I think it changes the direction and the choices that they will make. It prevents them from making some of the mistakes that I made.”

The newly minted Houstonian is funding the launch of the program with $300,000 of his own money through his nonprofit G-Unity Foundation. The program will launch at Wheatley, Worthing, and Kashmere high schools, with up to 50 students in the program when it launches this fall.

The vision is to create substantial, transformational change for the students, as well as their families and the surrounding communities.

“The three schools were chosen because they are schools that we have provided additional resources and support over the past several years. Curtis wanted to work with those types of students,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “We have so many wonderful opportunities in this city and in our school district for our students. I’m really excited they’ll have the opportunity to learn from someone so successful.”

In the 12-week program, students will learn foundational business methods, like writing a formal business plan or bookkeeping, and will meet twice a week for 2 hours after school. The classes will take place on campus, eliminating the need for additional transportation.

It will culminate in a competition where students will present their business ideas to business owners and allow them to receive seed funding to start their own business.

“We got some smart kids. To have this type of program in school—in these communities, in these neighborhood schools—will make all the difference,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “Going into their communities, into their neighborhoods, it says that we see you, we recognize you, we respect you, and we want to invest in you. That’s just huge.”

This initiative represents the first investment of Curtis Jackson’s philanthropic arm, the G-Unity Foundation. The pilot program is co-funded by the G-Unity Foundation investing $300,000 over two years and HISD matching the funds for a total of $600,000. The program is a partnership between the Houston Independent School District, the G-Unity Foundation, and Horizon United.