University of Texas at Austin
McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business

Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program Partners with Bank of America to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship

Interdisciplinary program will prepare undergraduate students to vet ideas, understand customer needs, and develop tools to establish product-market fit for new startup ventures.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce a partnership with Bank of America designed to increase entrepreneurial diversity and inclusion by supporting the Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program. The generosity of Bank of America will allow five students, selected from groups typically underrepresented in the entrepreneurship space, to participate in the spring 2021 cohort. These Bank of America Scholars will receive support for researching new product ideas or services aimed at addressing a critical need in an identified market.

“We recruit some of the best and brightest to McCombs and these five students have demonstrated incredible talent, skill, and tenacity to be great entrepreneurs” says Interim Dean Lillian Mills. “We are so grateful to our amazing partners like Bank of America who provide additional resources to help our students achieve more.”

The Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program offers undergraduate student entrepreneurs the opportunity to study potential customers and trends in the marketplace. Throughout the program, students will learn strategies which include vetting their ideas, becoming more critical thinkers who utilize data to inform their business decisions, and developing research strategies to help them properly position their product or service to meet consumer needs — skills necessary to launch a successful and sustainable business.

The Bank of America Scholars will have access to mentors, guest speakers, and weekly seminars that explore different aspects of customer discovery and validation. The Scholars will also be able to collaborate with a graduate assistant dedicated to providing additional industry expertise and support.

“Bank of America is committed to creating greater access to future economic opportunity through workforce development and education” said Nikki Graham, Austin market president for Bank of America. “Our partnership with the McCombs School of Business will help ensure students — regardless of economic background, gender, or race — learn the necessary entrepreneurial skills to succeed. We look forward to seeing the positive impact these Bank of America Scholars will make in business and in society.”

The Herb Kelleher Center was founded in 2001 on the principles of encouraging innovation and providing resources to budding entrepreneurs and startups. The Center strives to make entrepreneurship accessible to all Longhorns.

About the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin

Texas McCombs is a premier business school at a world-class public research university. We are a community that fosters lifelong engagement with our students and alumni. We cultivate principled leaders and develop ideas that will advance our economy, improve lives, strengthen our communities, and create new knowledge for future generations. Through high-quality instruction, experiential learning, and the pursuit of relevant, groundbreaking research, we are shaping those who will shape tomorrow and solve our most challenging problems.

For more information about the Herb Kelleher Center, and to see a list of the 2021 recipients, click here.

For media inquiries, please contact: Catenya McHenry, communications director, or Amanda Golden, program administrator.