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Central Standards

The Central Standards RFP provides matching funds to encourage and accelerate collaborations between two or more entrepreneurship support organizations working together to support Heartland entrepreneurs in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Specifically, the Kauffman Foundation intends this funding program to help build connections between entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) operating in the Heartland and with ESOs based outside the region.

The projects advance at least one or more of the strategic priorities of the Kauffman Foundation’s Heartland Strategy:

  • Inclusive prosperity in the Heartland | Funding programs and initiatives that support all entrepreneurs of all backgrounds in the Heartland.
  • Rural revitalization | Funding projects that enable rural ESOs and communities to provide the support necessary for rural entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.
  • Transitioning to an entrepreneurship- and innovation-led economy | Supporting the development of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems, build new idea economy-relevant clusters, and diversify the region’s economy.

“If we’re going to build the Heartland that includes all communities and voices, we need to start with focusing on growing an inclusive economy that centers entrepreneurship and innovation,” Chris Harris, senior program officer in Entrepreneurship, said. “As difficult as that work will be, it will be made even more difficult if we try to do it alone and disconnected. Central Standards grantees are partnering and collaborating to build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Heartland while also connecting the region to the most innovative practices from across the country.”

Meet the organizations whose projects will be funded in the first Central Standards round this summer:

  • Celebrate EDU, ESU-13 | Support for the establishment of entrepreneurship education programs, in partnership with local ESU-13, to support entrepreneurs with disabilities in Western Nebraska.
  • Employee Ownership Expansion Network, Missouri Center for Employee Ownership | Support for the launch of the Missouri Center for Employee Ownership to provide education to current business owners and prospective entrepreneurs on employee ownership structures and concepts.
  • Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc., St. Louis Development Corp | Support developing and launching the UrbanMain entrepreneurship support program to provide education for entrepreneurs operating in low to moderate income neighborhoods in St. Louis, MO.
  • Nebraska Community Foundation, Valley County Community Foundation Fund | Support to establish a cohort of twenty rural Nebraska communities for the purpose of providing customized entrepreneurship education programs and facilitated peer-based entrepreneurship support best practices.
  • The Prospect Urban Eatery (Community Capital Fund), Catalyst Kitchens | Support to launch The Prospect Urban Eatery, a kitchen incubator providing entrepreneurship education and prototyping support to low-income food industry entrepreneurs in Kansas City, MO, which is operated by The Prospect KC, a groundbreaking organization working to increase the rates of minority employment and successful businesses, as well as improve social equality. The Prospect KC is fiscally sponsored by Community Capital Fund (CCF), a Kansas City, MO, nonprofit service organization that since 2012 has supported innovative community development initiatives.
  • University of Iowa, MIT Venture Mentoring Services | Support for the establishment of a statewide entrepreneurial mentorship program delivered through the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in the state of Iowa. The Iowa mentor program will utilize the MIT Venture Mentoring Services model that has been implemented in over 100 organizations.
  • WEPOWER STL, Kiva | Support for the establishment of a Kiva Hub in St. Louis, MO, to provide micro-lending capital access options to entrepreneurs from communities in the region that have been systemically left behind.