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Inclusive Ecosystems RFP

This portfolio of research grants prioritizes the perspectives of community members, engages researchers and communities in conversation and collaboration, and examines how structural issues shape equity and opportunity in entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Meet the grantees funded in the 2022 Inclusive Ecosystems RFP: 

City of Kansas City, Missouri | Support to research, design, implement, and evaluate a capacity-building program, led by the city of Kansas City, MO, for BIPOC-led entrepreneur support organizations. 

Iowa Center for Opportunity Resources & Equity Inc. (Iowa CORE) | Support for research to identify the relationship between the availability of different types of monetary and non-monetary capital and the recent success of systemically marginalized entrepreneurs in IA. 

Lindenwood University | Support for research to identify the data needs and capacity of new and existing tech firms and startups across the St. Louis metro area in order to build a more interconnected regional system for advancing entrepreneurial equity by investing in data transparency and helping establish shared targets, reputable tracking processes, and consistent accountability. 

Southern Capital Project | Support for comparative case study research on the experiences of Black women and white male entrepreneurs in Little Rock, AR, and Kansas City, MO. 

University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. | Support for research exploring the experiences of child care business providers in three Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

University of Nebraska Board of Regents | Support for research exploring the impact of representation on decision-making and equity in Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

Washington University | Support for research to build upon existing models of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in St. Louis, MO, and to expand those to include current and historical realities related to racial disparities and emerging models of shared ownership and prosperity. 

Why Inclusive Ecosystems?

The Inclusive Ecosystems Request for Proposal (RFP) brings focus to a less-studied area of research: the impact of systemic forces on entrepreneurial ecosystems. The RFP urges researchers to engage with communities in conversation around geographic inequality, structural racism, and questions of overall community wellness, exploring the impacts these systemic contexts have on entrepreneurial outcomes. By asking researchers to engage community leaders and entrepreneurs throughout the Heartland as thought partners, this RFP keeps the needs of the community front and center, uplifting community expertise.

Each community-engaged project team – consisting of researchers and Heartland community partner organizations – will develop research-driven case studies, work with Kauffman Foundation staff to develop templates and tools for assessing equity in ecosystems, and ultimately provide practical, actionable insights for individuals and community leaders working to promote inclusivity in entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Prioritizing community voice

Chhaya Kolavalli

We look forward to seeing where research can help provide additional support and exposure to the innovative work ecosystem builders are already leading in Heartland communities. By prioritizing community voice and perspective, these projects will ultimately continue to embed equity into the foundation of the research we support.

Chhaya Kolavalli, Senior Program Officer, Entrepreneurship