Jane Boyd Community House Receives Heartland Challenge Grant

Jane Boyd Community House has been awarded $360,000 from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Heartland Challenge grant. Funds, which will be allocated over the next three years, will enhance and expand an entrepreneur education program offered through Jane Boyd. The funded program, Empower by GoDaddy in partnership with Jane Boyd, was launched in 2017 with the goal of providing access to education, a resource network of support, and business mentorship for under-resourced minority entrepreneurs from communities systemically left behind in Eastern Iowa.

Funding from the three-year award will build upon the already-successful Empower “incubator” program of foundational business concepts with new, self-paced “accelerator” coursework. Both the incubator and accelerator content will be offered virtually, built to accommodate business owners’ flexible scheduling needs. The Empower program, which has assisted more than 150 entrepreneurs to date, also received funding from the Heartland Challenge grant in 2020.

Jane Boyd Community House Director Megan Isenberg said the award will support Empower’s efforts to engage and serve more diverse populations and address barriers to education often experienced by non-traditional entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is not a 9-to-5 life,” Isenberg explained. “The individuals who could most benefit from Empower may not have the schedule that would allow them to attend a traditional in-person class, and some may not have transportation to get them to us. These funds will allow us to continue offering the flexibility participants need in order to engage in their education whenever it best fits as well as a more advanced curriculum to support their continued growth.”

We will continue deepening our relationships with under-served communities and the partner agencies that are already connected to the people we want to reach,” Isenberg said.

Funding from the Kauffman Foundation would be utilized to increase our program capacity to serve entrepreneurs by providing a new accelerator virtual curriculum during the grant-funded period.

Empower to remove barriers to education often experienced by non-traditional entrepreneurs, such as not

The Kauffman Foundation’s Heartland Challenge grant aims to solve specific challenges faced by Heartland entrepreneurs, said Ashlei Spivey, Program Officer, Entrepreneurship. “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.”

Individuals interested in learning more or applying to participate in the Empower program can visit www.janeboyd.org/programs/empower or contact Empower Program Manager Maurice Davis at 319-784-1310 or medavis@janeboyd.org.

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