Skip to content

Heartland Challenge RFP

The Heartland Challenge RFP funds programs, projects, and initiatives over a three-year period that build on the assets of the community to support business owners and founders — especially those that are not represented in the entrepreneurship landscape — located in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

The Kauffman Foundation intends this funding program to accomplish the following: 

  • Propose bold approaches to support the success of entrepreneurs, especially focusing on founders and business owners at the intersection(s) of race, culture, gender identity, and geography. 
  • Present feasible, well-conceived plans for supporting entrepreneurs, addressing barriers to success, and contributing knowledge to the field. 
  • Aspire to achieve an entrepreneurial environment that reflects the community of the Heartland.  
  • Create an entrepreneurial environment that adds to the economic vibrancy of the region. 

Meet the 8 organizations receiving funding through the 2022 Heartland Challenge

Curators of the University of Missouri | Support for the UMSL Accelerate entrepreneur education program, which helps BIPOC founders in the St. Louis area and UMSL student founders seeking to grow technology businesses and access capital. 

Economic Empowerment Center | Support for the operations of Lending Link Omaha’s new North Omaha office, which will provide education, technical assistance, and access to capital for local entrepreneurs. 

Flint Hills Regional Council | Support for the Flint Hills Regional Council to develop a series of educational events and programs designed to serve rural businesses and home-based businesses on military bases. 

KC Digital Drive | Support for the Comeback KC Ventures program, which engages entrepreneurial fellows to create businesses using concepts sourced from the community.   

Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) | Support for the delivery of technical assistance and microgrants to entrepreneurs seeking to start new businesses in LMI neighborhoods in the Kansas City metropolitan area. 

NewBo City Market | Support for the NewBo City Market to provide additional outreach services to engage BIPOC entrepreneurs in the market’s business support programming in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

Omaha Community Broadcasting | Support for Omaha Community Broadcasting to work with the Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Diversity Council to deliver MBE University in Omaha, Nebraska. 

PCs for People | Support for a new program helping low-income entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area to achieve digital resiliency. 

Small Business Empowerment Center | Support for the implementation of business assessment criteria and associated educational programs to serve main street small businesses in North St. Louis.   

A photo of Hyacinth Vassell

Bold approaches at the intersection of race, gender, and geography.

“Bold approaches are necessary for the success of entrepreneurs at the intersection of race, gender, and geography. The Heartland Challenge is intended to address the barriers entrepreneurs face in order to continue to build the economic vibrancy of the region.” — Hyacinth Vassell, Senior Director, Entrepreneurship