Applications Now Open for Joplin Area Residents to Turn Ideas Into Reality Through Idea Accelerator Program

Sponsored by Heartland Forward with partner Builders + Backers, the program is brought to Joplin with the support of MOKAN Partnership, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and Arvest Bank-Joplin

(Joplin, MO) – Heartland Forward and its partners, Builders + Backers, MOKAN Partnership, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, Commerce Bank, Mercy Hospital, Mid-Missouri Bank, Anderson Engineering, and Arvest Bank-Joplin, announced they are bringing their groundbreaking Community Growth Program and Toolkit (CGPT), a first-of-its-kind idea accelerator, Pebble Fund and Buildership™ program, powered by Builders + Backers, to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and action to Joplin. This new cohort of ten builders in Joplin is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to funding and supporting 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023 and a summer cohort of builders across nine cities. A cohort of 50 builders completed the program earlier this month in Iowa City, Iowa; Oxford, Mississippi; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“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,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “We’re thrilled to be bringing this program to Joplin as part of our commitment to support 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023. We’re confident this next cohort of Builders will have the innovative thinking and ideas to create real change in their communities, and we look forward to seeing what they can accomplish in the months and years to come.”

Anyone who has a creative and unexpected idea for solving a problem facing the Joplin area community can complete an application here. Joplin area residents are encouraged to apply by May 30, 2022. Residents with the most promising and innovative ideas will be selected to participate in a two-month long virtual program starting on June 16, 2022.

“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are laying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “The key — and the economic urgency — is getting more people, in more places, to actually put these ideas into action. That’s the power of small experiments and the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program. For less than a single venture investment, we can unleash and fuel thousands of experiments across the country and see new ventures, initiatives, and companies emerge.”

“This is a huge value add to our entrepreneurial and small business development efforts,” said Tony Robyn, Executive Director of MOKAN Partnership/Joplin Chamber Interim Co-President. “We are always looking for additional tools and partners like Heartland Forward to help our business startup community keep pace with the growth we are seeing here.”

At the heart of the CGPT are the Builders + Backers four program pillars, designed to mobilize and equip Builders through:

  • Idea Accelerator: This cohort-based program combines a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment.
  • Pebble Fund: All of the Builders are supported by a $5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas. Participants are mentored by Master Builders throughout the program.
  • Storytelling: A comprehensive media program that curates, captures and distributes stories of Buildership™, both from within the programs and in communities everywhere. Through video, written stories, social media, and media partnerships, the program inspires people to become Builders.
  • Buildership™ Workshops: Workshops and other events introduce people to the ideas of Buildership™ and demonstrate that anyone can generate creative solutions through entrepreneurial experimentation that contribute to the sustainability of communities.

The pilot program in Tulsa and Oxford included 15 Builders solving problems in their communities related to workforce development, volunteerism, increasing food awareness and more. CGPT secured 100% retention from Builders and the majority were women and people of color. To learn more about the Builders, see here.

About Heartland Forward:

Heartland Forward is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) 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. To learn more, visit

About Builders + Backers:

Builders + Backers 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. By backing the most creative builders across the country, we can shape the digital future to be one in which more people participate and thrive.


Lara Sisselman

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