In an effort to cultivate venture capitalists in the Midwest, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will award a dozen of scholarships valued at a total of $960,000 for its investor program, Kauffman Fellows.
And Kansas City is set to be the biggest beneficiary.
During the Kauffman Fellows’ annual summit, the foundation announced that will dish nearly $1 million via four scholarships for each of the next three years. Two recipients a year will hail from the Kansas City area; one from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska; and another from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.
“We are proud to partner with the Kauffman Foundation on this bold initiative to accelerate the education of investment and innovation leaders in Kansas City and across the Midwest,” Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach said in a release. “This is a big deal for investors in the region, and we welcome their participation in the Kauffman Fellows Program.”
Created in 1995, the Kauffman Fellows program was created to help venture capitalists better connect with their respective entrepreneurial communities. The highly-esteemed program has fostered the development of nearly 500 fellows who lead more than 200 venture capital firms, representing funds that invest billions into startups in more than 40 countries around the world.
“This partnership is a key component of our emerging ‘Kauffman Midwest Capital Creation’ initiative, designed to address key market gaps and help Midwestern entrepreneurs become more successful,” Kauffman Foundation CEO Wendy Guillies said in a release. “Our research released today shows signs that new sources of capital are emerging outside of traditional geographic hubs. Our work with Kauffman Fellows provides access to an extensive network of thought leaders who will be invaluable resources as we work to solve the Midwest capital gap.”
The group for the first time is hosting its annual summit in Kansas City, bringing with it about 200 investors and dozens more entrepreneurs from around the world. The summit will feature an array of industry leaders, venture capitalists, founders and entrepreneurs — including keynote presentations from AOL founder Steve Case and Foundry Group managing partner Brad Feld.
The announcement comes only days after the foundation announced a challenge to Kansas City to spur more accelerator-like organizations in Kansas City. Starting Nov. 16 during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the KC Accelerator Challenge hopes to encourage proposals from programs in the area that provide mentoring, access to resources and other services that help entrepreneurs scale their companies.