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IOWA CITY — A new accelerator program is seeking to help Iowa City residents address problems facing the community through meaningful solutions.
The Community Growth Program and Toolkit has a goal to help social and business entrepreneurs with a vision to address systemic change in their community, according to Heartland Forward, the not-for-profit group leading the program.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Heartland Forward, a 501(c)3, announced on Monday it is working with Builders and Backers and the Iowa City Area Development Group to bring the program to Iowa City. The program was piloted in Tulsa, Okla., and Oxford, Miss., this past summer.
“Problem solving with an entrepreneurial mindset will be key to rebuilding our post-COVID local economies, and our Community Growth Program and Toolkit has already proven to be a successful, meaningful way to accelerate the entrepreneurial thinking needed to help our communities thrive,” Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, said in a statement.
The pilot program had 15 “builders” working on projects related to workforce development, volunteerism and food awareness.
A majority of the builders were women and people of color, according to Heartland Forward.
The not-for-profit has a goal of funding and supporting 1,000 builders in the heartland by 2023, including 10 in Iowa City.
“The Iowa City area is a community full of innovative thinkers who are passionate about developing solutions to problems in our community and beyond,” said Liz Hubing, ICAD’s marketing and community engagement director.
Hubing added how the Community Growth Program will be “a powerful conduit” for the city’s existing entrepreneurial programs.
The 90-day idea accelerator starts off with 45 days dedicated to teaching participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of allowing the builders to execute their ideas.
All builders are supported by a $5,000 grant to test their ideas.
Those with a “creative and unexpected idea for solving a problem” in Iowa City are encouraged to apply by Sunday, Dec. 19. The online application can be found at buildersandbackers.com/idea-accelerator-application-winter-2022.
Residents with the “most promising and innovative ideas” will be selected for the two-month virtual program, which will begin Jan. 20.
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