Education in Kansas City is receiving an innovative boost.
Village Capital, a global entrepreneurial development organization, recently announced that Kansas City will be one of its pioneer “VilCap communities.”
The KC Social Innovation Center, or KCSIC, will manage Kansas City’s VilCap community. The organization — launched by Think Big Partners in May — focuses on education as a means to fuel economic development, said Kari Keefe, executive director of the KC Social Innovation Center.
The program opened its doors to 16 U.S. cities, inviting entrepreneurs in each community to tackle hot-button issues. Each city has an assigned focus. Kansas City will be the only education-focused community, while other metros will work on health, water and energy, food and agriculture, financial technology and minority entrepreneurship.
“We provide a central hub for social innovation to amplify and open the community of innovation to initiate and establish new methods in economic development, tech, education and learning in digital cities,” Keefe said. “We’re not only creating spaces where change happens, but leveraging the co-work and co-design models to produce a network of networks with innovative actors and ideas that work together for the public good.”
Growing education innovation efforts sets the stage for the area becoming a national innovation leader, Keefe added.
“Kansas City’s education sector is rapidly evolving,” she said. “It is progressive and innovative, and VilCap has recognized our capacity to lead the nation as a catalyst for education innovation and ed entrepreneurship.”
To become a VilCap community, KCSIC secured $50,000 from the City of Kansas City, Mo., and partnered with The Lean Lab to match an additional $50,000. The Lean Lab will also provide curriculum and other support for VilCap efforts.
“This is exciting for Kansas City, and VilCap Communities is just the beginning,” Keefe said. “With the financial boost from the City of Kansas City, Missouri, now we can continue developing superior education innovations and entrepreneurs throughout the region.”
The non-profit hopes to provide much-needed structure to fully develop education efforts for the region, said Keefe.
“My hope is that KCSIC provides the infrastructure and network needed to actualize the advancement of education innovations, learning and workforce development in digital cities,” she said.