A Bentonville, Ark.-based not-for-profit announced in early December it was working with Builders and Backers and the Iowa City Area Development Group to bring its accelerator program to Iowa City. (The Gazette)
IOWA CITY — Ten Iowa City entrepreneurs will work to turn their ideas into reality as part of a new accelerator program designed to address systemic change in the community.
Heartland Forward, a Bentonville, Ark.-based not-for-profit, announced in early December it was working with Builders and Backers and the Iowa City Area Development Group to bring its accelerator program to Iowa City.
The Community Growth Program and Toolkit was piloted in Tulsa, Okla., and Oxford, Miss., last summer. Heartland Forward has a goal of funding and supporting 1,000 participants by 2023, including the 10 in Iowa City.
“Solving problems with an entrepreneurial mindset is key to putting our communities in a position to thrive and rebuild our local economies,” Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, said in a news release. “Our Iowa City builders have innovative ideas that can have real impact on their communities.“
The Iowa City entrepreneurs are Nicole Williams, Jelena Beideman, Pablo Salazar, Thom Johnson, Monique Washington, Lara Marsh, Jasper Washington, Chuy Renteria, Dady Mansaray and Michael Quinn.
The projects entrepreneurs pitched tackle a variety of topics — from child care to education to healthy living.
Ideas include addressing the shortage of child care, introducing more children to STEM opportunities, encouraging Hispanic students from rural communities to go to college and an online learning platform to improve the spatial abilities for kids.
Entrepreneurs also will be working on a personalized music-teacher app, a social sports app to connect people, Afro-centric garden products and a new clothing line focused on community among young people.
The last two projects are creating a new model for healthy living and a new sports bar with plant-based offerings.
“Our 10-person cohort is full of diverse ideas and people who hope to make an impact in our community and beyond. We’re looking forward to seeing their ideas come to life over the next three months,” said Liz Hubing, ICAD’s marketing and community engagement director.
The three-month program will begin next week on Thursday, Jan. 20.
The accelerator will start with 45 days dedicated to teaching participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of allowing participants to execute their ideas.
All participants are supported by a $5,000 grant to test their ideas.
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