Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers announced they have given over $1 million in Pebble Fund grants to aspiring entrepreneurs throughout 2022 as part of the Idea Accelerator program. Builders + Backers and Heartland Forward partnered to bring the Idea Accelerator and Pebble Fund to the heartland in the fall of 2021, and over 300 participants, called builders, in 16 communities across 10 states have since participated. In total, over 200 $5,000 pebble grants were awarded in 2022 to idea-stage founders in the heartland.
The Idea Accelerator is centered on the premise that there are promising ideas everywhere — from solutions that spur local development or address the challenges Americans face every day to the novel innovations that can become game-changing, high-growth companies of tomorrow. Through a strategic partnership, Heartland Forward is enabling the program to be run throughout the heartland, defined as the 20 states in the middle of the country, while historically, 75% of venture capital has gone to just three states, all on the coasts.
Of the Idea Accelerator participants and Pebble Fund recipients, 58% are individuals of color and 51% are female or gender non-conforming persons. This is particularly notable, as women-founded companies received less than two percent of capital invested in VC-backed startups in the US, and Black-owned startups received just over one percent. Read the full release here.
Heartland Forward is a nonpartisan, 501c3 organization whose mission is to improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating for fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth and improved health outcomes. Heartland Forward conducts independent, data-driven research and programs to facilitate action-oriented discussion and impactful policy recommendations.
Builders + Backers is a distributed venture studio that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs who are building global-scale ventures to power an entirely different future – one where technology creates value for many instead of capturing it for a few. Through proprietary programming, Builders + Backers also inspires and equips people to best seize the opportunities of our digital era – from experimentation and solving problems in their local communities to starting new ventures that could scale.