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Heartland Challenge RFP

This request for proposals funds programs and projects that take a strengths-based approach to investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs in the Heartland.

The Heartland Challenge Request for Proposal (RFP) funds programs, projects, and initiatives that build on the assets of community to support business owners and founders, especially those that are underrepresented in the entrepreneurship landscape, located in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. This portfolio consists of grants to support new programming and the expansion or enhancement of existing programming in the region.

Ashlei Spivey

Building on strengths and assets of community

“We know that there is an opportunity right here in the Heartland to create inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship if we build on the strengths and assets of community – especially those that are excluded and underrepresented.

“The Heartland Challenge RFP aims to catalyze the kind of approach where we invest in programs and projects that aren’t trying to ‘fix’ marginalized founders, yet recognize their inherent value and invest money in opportunities that do so, as well.”

Ashlei Spivey, Program Officer, Entrepreneurship

Meet the 11 organizations receiving funding in this year’s Heartland Challenge

  • 24/7 | Support for the Black Business Accelerator provides access, resources, and strategies to promote business resiliency and sustainability in entrepreneurial ecosystems where Black founders face unique networking, education, and capital challenges.
  • Climate Action KC | Support for the Contractor Accelerator program helps Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) startups in the construction industry effectively capitalize on the opportunities presented by the high-performance buildings market in the Kansas City Region.
  • Drake University | Support for Drake University to hire recruiters dedicated to increasing engagement from underrepresented entrepreneurs in local entrepreneur education programs through culturally competent outreach and the development of community relationships.
  • Harris Stowe State University | Support to the HSSU Anheuser-Busch School of Business Entrepreneurship Center to become a leader and safe space for minority and underserved communities in the areas of entrepreneurship, small business development, and innovation.
  • InterUrban ArtHouse | Support for the ArtWorks program, which provides entrepreneurial development curriculum and resources to creative industry workers and artists in the Heartland.
  • Jane Boyd Community House | Support for expansion of the Empower entrepreneur support program and creation of an Empower incubator program to assist entrepreneurs as they start and grow businesses in Cedar Rapids, IA.
  • Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) | Support and expand MLCDC’s entrepreneurship program that serves new and existing low- and moderate-income minority entrepreneurs in the Midwest.
  • Mission Adelante – The Toolbox | Support for the Toolbox multilingual entrepreneurship resource center, serving entrepreneurs starting new businesses in the Central Avenue corridor of Kansas City, KS.
  • No More Empty Pots | Support for the No More Empty Pots program to improve the efficacy of food entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, leveraging their strengths and assets to maximize existing resources and collaborations while expanding networks and catalyzing opportunities.
  • Prospect Business Association | Support for the Prospect Business Association’s entrepreneurship training program in Kansas City serving low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs.
  • WEPOWER | Support of the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator, a St. Louis-based six-month entrepreneurship development program for Black & Latinx entrepreneurs committed to sparking jobs and economic growth in neighborhoods plagued by systemic disinvestment.

Applications for this round of the Heartland Challenge RFP closed in March 2021. Sign up to be alerted when the next round goes live, and learn about our previous year’s grantees.