Kauffman Foundation Awards $840K to Accelerate KC Programs and Entrepreneurial Success

Kauffman Foundation Awards $840K to Accelerate KC Programs and Entrepreneurial Success

Kansas City is determined to become America’s most entrepreneurial city, and once again, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has made it clear—we got your back, KC. On Tuesday, the Foundation granted eight local venture accelerators $840,000 in awards through their KC Accelerator Challenge.

“Our goal is to increase entrepreneurial success in Kansas City through high-quality support programs because we know from recent research that more startups lead to higher productivity, wage growth and quality of life for the entire community,” says Kauffman Foundation president and CEO Wendy Guillies in a press release. “We believe the startups are empowered when they connect to established resources.”

We couldn’t agree with Wendy more. That belief has been the subject of all four We Create KC reports and is why we are so excited to watch the grant recipients continue to bolster the efforts of Kansas City entrepreneurs:


BetaBlox starts as an accelerator, turns into an incubator and ends as an advisor. And Weston Bergman, founder, believes this grant will allow Betablox to help more startups become successful, faster. “People forget that the Kauffman Foundation is debatably the most important entity in the world when it comes to studying entrepreneurship—so for them to be our partners in regards to studying what happens to our program after gas is added to our fire is a true honor, especially in relation to the other winning programs for which we hold in such high regard.”

Enterprise Center in Johnson County (ECJC): Investment Bootcamp

The ECJC is a venture development organization and the home of Mid-America Angels, Women’s Capital Connection, the Women’s Business Center and We-Lend. “This grant from the Kauffman Foundation will enable us to provide intensive education for entrepreneurs preparing to seek commercialization funding,” shares Melissa Roberts, marketing director. “Their generous support will help us bring transparency to the fundraising process and reduce the amount of uncertainty that entrepreneurs face when raising capital.”

Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP)

HEMP matches growing entrepreneurs one-on-one with business veterans to help them grow their business.  HEMP focus on businesses around $1 million in revenues and higher, 3 years or more in business and with 5 or more full-time employees.

Sprint Accelerator

Sprint Accelerator programs are broken into three tracks (innovate, collaborate and engage) and share one goal, to connect corporations with new ventures, spurring innovation through curated conversations and facilitated action. “The Kauffman Foundation’s support will help us in continuing to provide valuable, open programming to entrepreneurs who are starting and growing businesses,” shares Tina Peterson, manager of the Sprint Accelerator.

Techstars Kansas City

Techstars makes entrepreneurship accessible by opening doors to capital, mentorship, marketing, business development, customer acquisition and talent recruitment. A global ecosystem of founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners work together to create a network of support that lasts throughout the entrepreneurial journey.

Project United Knowledge (UK)

ProjectUK is a startup studio whose mission is to serve minority and underserved entrepreneurs. ProjectUK drives social, environmental and economic change by incubating and accelerating ventures that have the potential to solve our community’s most pressing issues. “This award will allow us to expand our impact, quickly,” says Quest Taylor, founder. “We will launch a brand new Co-Starters education program for urban core entrepreneurs, start a series of varied workshops and host demo days and storytelling events to invite new audiences into the startup community.”

Rightfully Sewn

Next week, Rightfully Sewn will launch its seamstress training pilot program for at risk women in the Kansas City area. “The KC Accelerator Challenge award will magnify our ability to develop and implement an accelerator program that provides education, job skills, and other training opportunities in the garment and fashion industry,” shares the founder, Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer, whose ultimate goal is to re-establish Kansas City on the national fashion scene.

ScaleUP! Kansas City

ScaleUP! Kansas City is a four-month program for high growth potential entrepreneurs to take advantage of coaching, curriculum and a community of peers. Entrepreneurs are immersed in strategic thinking and planning and connected with vital resources and experienced mentors.

“ScaleUP! fills in important gap in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem—and for business owners, of all stripes and types, who are ready to scale their businesses,” says Jill Meyer, director of ScaleUP! KC. “Winning an award from the Kauffman KC Accelerator Challenge will help ScaleUP!  further strengthen the success of our alumni with continued coaching and peer mentoring and help us reach deeper into the KC community to support the growth of KC’s small businesses.”

The KC Accelerator Challenge is part of the Kauffman Foundation’s Zero Barriers movement, a comprehensive approach to address barriers entrepreneurs face. Learn more about this approach:

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