The Founders Fund is a portion of a $60 million endowment gifted in the summer of 2015 from Sam Zell, University of Michigan alum and chairman of Chicago-based Equity Group Investments. All told, the Zell Family Foundation has gifted $150 million to University of Michigan entrepreneurial efforts. Joining a suite of investment funds, the Zell Founders Fund is the most robust and elite at the Ann Arbor school. It is managed by Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute, and a four-member student advisory committee. Members of the committee must be nominated by faculty and then selected by Thornhill. So far, three MBAs at Michigan’s Ross School of Business have been selected. And all three are women.
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