Editor’s note: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a financial supporter of Startland News, though this story was produced independently by Startland News’ nonprofit newsroom.
A quarter-million-dollar grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is expected to push The Prospect KC into operational scale in the months ahead, said Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant.
News of the $250,000 Central Standard grant came in late June. Its funds are expected to fuel growth of The Prospect Urban Eatery — an organization initiative to provide culinary arts instruction to low-income individuals in Kansas City.
“This grant gets us to the halfway mark for the building and equipment necessary for our signature Culinary Training Program. We are in the process of tweaking the curriculum based on COVID changes to the hospitality industry,” McAfee-Bryant, founder and executive director, told Startland News. “It feels amazing [to secure this grant] and is confirmation that I am on the right path.”
The Prospect Urban Eatery aims to promote nutritional literacy, teach kitchen preparedness and offers certification programming, a community meals program and restaurant, in addition to business enterprise and direct employment opportunities.
Efforts are expected to support members of disadvantaged communities at or below the federal poverty line in the immediate metro. The Prospect KC will need to raise an additional $250,000 to fully realize its vision, said McAfee-Bryant, who made headlines in 2014 after winning Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and founding her organization in 2019.
Click here to learn more about The Prospect KC and its initiatives.
The Kauffman Foundation’s Central Standards Grant provides matching funds in an effort to build connections between entrepreneur support organizations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas — otherwise known as the “MINK” states — with those based in areas with a higher-entrepreneurial density such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Cambridge.
Projects that receive grant funding from the $1.34 million initiative must support at least one of the strategic priorities outlined by the Kauffman Foundation’s Heartland Strategy, which include: creating inclusive prosperity in the heartland; advancing rural revitalization; and transitioning communities into entrepreneurship-and innovation-led economies.
“If we’re going to build [a] heartland that includes all communities and voices, we need to start with focusing on growing an inclusive economy that centers entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Chris Harris, senior program officer in entrepreneurship for the Kauffman Foundation.
“As difficult as that work will be, it will be made even more difficult if we try to do it alone and disconnected. Central Standards grantees are partnering and collaborating to build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Heartland while also connecting the region to the most innovative practices from across the country.”
Additional central standard grantees — all MINK organizations outside Kansas City — include:
- Celebrate EDU, ESU-13: Support for the establishment of entrepreneurship education programs, in partnership with local ESU-13, to support entrepreneurs with disabilities in Western Nebraska.
- Employee Ownership Expansion Network, Missouri Center for Employee Ownership: Support for the launch of the Missouri Center for Employee Ownership to provide education to current business owners and prospective entrepreneurs on employee ownership structures and concepts.
- Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc., St. Louis Development Corp: Support developing and launching the UrbanMain entrepreneurship support program to provide education for entrepreneurs operating in low to moderate income neighborhoods in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Nebraska Community Foundation, Valley County Community Foundation Fund | Support to establish a cohort of twenty rural Nebraska communities for the purpose of providing customized entrepreneurship education programs and facilitated peer-based entrepreneurship support best practices.
- University of Iowa, MIT Venture Mentoring Services: Support for the establishment of a statewide entrepreneurial mentorship program delivered through the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in the state of Iowa. The Iowa mentor program will utilize the MIT Venture Mentoring Services model that has been implemented in over 100 organizations.
- WEPOWER STL, Kiva: Support for the establishment of a Kiva Hub in St. Louis, Missouri, to provide micro-lending capital access options to entrepreneurs from communities in the region that have been systemically left behind.
“This portfolio is the first substantive step in an ongoing effort to connect organizations
and align funders all working to support entrepreneurship in the heartland,” the Kauffman Foundation said, noting additional grantees are expected to be announced before the end of the year.
“The goal of the portfolio is to have a better understanding of which activities have the greatest impact in addressing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and what works when
funding partnerships in the region.”
Click here to learn more about the Central Standard Grant or other Kauffman-backed initiatives.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.