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Entrepreneur Support Organizations

Entrepreneur Support Organizations

Through our grantmaking, we work to benefit entrepreneurs across the Heartland region of the United States (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) by ensuring entrepreneurs have equitable access to the resources they need to start and grow businesses.

We convene and make grants to Heartland entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) in order to develop programs, forge partnerships, and build organizational capacity to serve more entrepreneurs with high-quality support.

Programs & Initiatives

Heartland Strategy

Heartland Strategy

Through the Heartland Strategy, we award grants and convene stakeholders in the Heartland region (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). This portfolio focuses on growing and strengthening entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) in the region and working with them to address systemic challenges that affect entrepreneurs’ ability to start and grow businesses.


Central Standards

The Central Standards RFP provides matching funds to encourage and accelerate collaborations between two or more entrepreneurship support organizations to support Heartland entrepreneurs in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. This RFP has two funding rounds each year: one in the spring and one in the summer.


2020 Heartland Challenge RFP for Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas

Heartland Challenge

The Heartland Challenge RFP is intended to support organizations, programs, and projects that build on the assets of community to support business owners and founders, especially those that are underrepresented in the entrepreneurship landscape.


Kauffman Fellows

Kauffman Fellows

Founded in 1994 as an experiment to educate and train future leaders of high-growth companies, Kauffman Fellows is now the premier leadership organization in innovation and capital formation.

Graduates from the two-year mastery-level program lead venture capital, government, corporate, university, and startup innovation efforts. More than 500 fellows comprise a life-long network of leaders from more than 200 venture capital firms representing funds that invest billions into startups globally.


Capital Access Lab

Capital Access Lab

The Capital Access Lab seeks to catalyze new financing mechanisms to serve the wide majority of entrepreneurs who can’t access venture capital or bank loans, increasing capital investment to underserved entrepreneurs who have been historically left behind, including due to their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, and/or geographic location. The Kauffman Foundation has committed $3 million to seed this new fund. 

Related

Read stories and news related to our Entrepreneurship Support Organization work

GRANTEES

Catalyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Heartland

The Heartland Challenge grantees will work to solve for specific challenges entrepreneurs in the region face, and will participate in facilitated, peer-learning communities of practice to share knowledge across the region.

July 10, 2020
Catalyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Heartland
currents

After generations of disinvestment, rural America might be the most innovative place in the U.S.

Rural leaders, governments, and philanthropic funders who aren’t afraid to break with long-standing assumptions about the inevitability of rural decline can leverage the potential, talent, and innovative spirit of rural America to build the new Heartland.

December 14, 2020
After generations of disinvestment, rural America might be the most innovative place in the U.S.
PROGRAM

Communities of Practice

The 2020 Heartland Challenge Communities of Practice brings together entrepreneurship support organizations located in the Heartland region through a 12-month facilitated peer-learning process to share learnings about solutions to specific challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

February 20, 2020
Communities of Practice