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Emerging Collaborations

The Emerging Collaborations 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.

Why Emerging Collaborations?

The Kauffman Foundation intends for this funding program to help build connections between entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) operating in the Heartland and with ESOs either outside the Heartland or within to support work already in development.

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

  • 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. 

Meet the newest group of the 2022 Emerging Collaborations grantees: 

Cortex Innovation Community with Propel Kitchens | Support to create a community kitchen and innovation lab aimed at serving St. Louis’s Promise Zone and training food entrepreneurs from St. Louis’s historically disinvested communities. 

Technology Entrepreneur Center, Inc. with Riverside Research | Support to establish a customized data warehouse where innovators and entrepreneurs can explore content, experiment with concepts, and evolve solutions, for the T-REX Innovation Center in St. Louis, MO. 

University of Northern Iowa Foundation with the Center for Business Growth and Innovation and the Iowa Rural Development Council | Support to connect rural Iowa business owners with the resources and strategies necessary to successfully transition their business to employee ownership.  

Venture Noire with KC Bizcare | Support to develop a new accelerator program that will support local small businesses and will create an investment preparation series for BIPOC entrepreneurs in the Kansas City Metro.  

Meet the first group of the 2022 Emerging Collaborations grantees:

Empower Evergreen with Food Works Group | Support to develop and launch a kitchen incubator education program in the North End of Wichita, a primarily Hispanic region of the community.

HATCH  with Kansas Leadership Center, CAPS Network, The Meridian Institute | Support to establish a fellowship program and impact summit that will connect Central Standards grantees and other Heartland entrepreneurs (especially those that are underrepresented in the entrepreneurship landscape) with customized access to a global network of thought-leaders from diverse industries as they explore the viability of launching new ventures, partnerships, and collaborations to solve some of the Heartland’s most pressing challenges.

KC GIFT with The Porter House KC | Support for the launch of a combined cohort of the KC GIFT entrepreneurship resource access program and the KC Porter House entrepreneurship education program.

Springboard Enterprises with Kansas City Women’s Business Center | Support to establish a capital education and pitch program to serve women entrepreneurs in the Heartland of the US. The program will provide showcase events, connections, access to training and resources, and provide actionable insights for women entrepreneurs as they build and scale their companies.

University of Iowa with MakerHealth | Establish a statewide program to support and educate nurses and home healthcare practitioners as they refine innovations in their field and consider entrepreneurship to create more resilience during times of insecurity, such as the recession.

A photo of Hyacinth Vassell

The importance of collaborating with communities already doing the work.

“We know our region faces unique entrepreneurship challenges. And that’s why we’re passionate about connecting Heartland-based entrepreneurship support organizations with those outside of our region. We see first-hand the benefits of sharing knowledge and experiences with peers every day – collaboration is what changes systems. We are proud of this group of Emerging Collaborations grantees and the work they are ready to do to build an entrepreneur-friendly ecosystem.” — Hyacinth Vassell, Senior Director, Entrepreneurship