Continuing a commitment to cultivate its hometown entrepreneurial community, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded a $78,600 grant to the Kansas City Startup Foundation.
The foundation’s gift helps the KCSF expand the capacity and marketing of its programs to connect, educate and tell stories about area innovators. The KCSF — which recently merged with the Center of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development (CEED) and earned a $1 million commitment — operates Startland News, the Kansas City Startup Village, the new StartupKC Help Desk, MECA Challenge, Village Square Coworking Studio and several events.
Erin Jenkins, program officer in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, said her organization is excited to increase the impact of the KCSF.
“The KCSF plays an important role in telling the stories of the makers, the doers and the dreamers in Kansas City,” Jenkins said. “The KCSF’s role in connecting the Kansas City startup community through Startland News and the StartupKC Help Desk helps build a vibrant, resource-rich entrepreneurial ecosystem here at home.”
The KCSF’s mission aims to cultivate a pervasive entrepreneurial mindset in Kansas City. It accesses the passion, ingenuity and collaborative spirit of the Kansas City startup community through education, storytelling and connections to empower individuals to solve the challenges of today.
The grant has immediately allowed Startland News to hire veteran newsman and creative athlete Tommy Felts as its managing editor. Felts will help Startland News expand its editorial capacity, as well as its special reporting with in-depth packages and other multimedia news projects, such as infographics, live reporting, photo packages and video.
Felts most recently served at the Ottawa Herald, where he worked his way up from paginator to publisher in a 12-year career.
“Tommy was a mentor of mine fresh out of college and helped cultivate my storytelling skills at the Herald as a young reporter,” said Bobby Burch, editor-in-chief of Startland News. “He brings a sharp editorial eye, fantastic design skills and years of project management that I’m certain will take Startland to new heights. I’m thrilled to team up with him again — Startland and Kansas City are lucky to have him here.”
Also thanks to the Kauffman Foundation’s grant, the KCSF will create a new StartupKC Help Desk, an in-person advisory service and personal connection resource. The help desk provides ecosystem stakeholders, visitors and curious citizens with personalized connections to the right people in Kansas City’s startup community.
The help desk will be primarily facilitated by Adam Arredondo, KCSF executive director, and Matthew Marcus, KCSF director of operations.
“As with any tight-knit community, it can be tough to get plugged in if you don’t know where to begin — the startup community is no different,” Arredondo said. “We have heard many times that people feel intimidated figuring out how to navigate the startup community. The StartupKC Help Desk will address that challenge by providing personalized in-person or online responses to ecosystem stakeholders, visitors, and seekers looking for connections to the Kansas City startup community.”
To learn more about the recent merger of CEED and the KCSF, check out this story.