Sunstone invests in Economic Development Challenge at USC Price School of Public Policy


A new approach to economic development for local governments has been launched with a recently announced partnership between Sunstone Management and the USC Price School of Public Policy.

Sunstone announced in early February a grant of $162,500 (delivered through the Sunstone Community Fund) to the Price School to establish the “Sunstone Economic Development Challenge @ USC Price.” The challenge is designed to help local governments develop and implement inclusive strategies to support and grow early-stage technology startups and high-tech jobs in their communities.

During the challenge, Price students will partner with local governments to create strategies to support start-up companies that are adding new jobs to the community. Efforts will include ways to attract companies, raise private capital, marketing strategies and more.

Students will be able to tap the expertise of mentors, participating in educational and feedback sessions, then develop strategies with the local government professionals. The culmination of the challenge will be on April 13, when the teams will present their final projects to a panel of judges. Monetary prizes will be awarded, with a grand prize of up to $5,000.

“USC Price is one of the preeminent public policy schools in the country, and an incubator for the future public servants who will drive diverse economic development throughout the country,” John Keisler, CEO & Managing Partner of Sunstone Management, said. “They are the ideal partner for the Sunstone Economic Development Challenge @ USC Price, which will help cultivate within students the necessary skills to be those forces for small businesses and economic growth that communities nationwide need.”

Keisler brings a background of municipal economic development to Sunstone; he was the director of economic development at Long Beach, Calif., before joining the company. His expertise helped create the partnership with the city, Cal State Long Beach and Sunstone that launched the Long Beach Accelerator in 2020, helping startup companies ramp up their efforts to become viable businesses.

Sunstone has since partnered with multiple universities, including the University of California, Irvine, and other members of the California State University system. This is the first official partnership with the University of Southern California.

“I want to thank Sunstone for this generous gift but also for its thoughtful deployment through the Sunstone Economic Development Challenge,” Dana Goldman, dean of USC Price and C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Chair, said. “This is a win for our students and their local government partners as they work together to attract start-up businesses.”

Sunstone Management, based in Irvine, Calif., is a diversified private capital firm focusing on early-stage technology entrepreneurs. Sunstone promotes economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships and expertise in government, education and private sectors. For more, go to

For more information about the USC Price School of Public Policy, go to

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