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Heartland Forward grant program opens to local residents

Oxford and Lafayette County residents have the opportunity to help their community thrive with a grant to test out their idea to solve a local problem.  

Heartland Forward announced last week they will select five residents in the Oxford and Lafayette County area to receive $5,000 pebble grants each to test out their ideas for solving an issue they feel is keeping the region from thriving.  

The funds are available through their Idea Accelerator program, and anyone with creative and unexpected idea for solving a problem facing their community is invited to apply. The application is open through May 19 at www.buildersandbackers.com/oxford-accelerator 

Residents with the most promising and innovative ideas will be selected to participate in a two-month long virtual program that stars on June 1, 2021 and culminates with the Heartland Forward annual summit in Bentonville, Arkansas, slated for September. Winners will be announced May 26.  

According to Heartland Forward, “pebble grants” are meant to “fuel an experiment plus access to a team of world-class mentors, workshops and resources to design, refine and act on your ideas.” There are “no strings attached. Just as simple as “We’ll cover the costs and surround you with help so you can give it a go.”  

“In Oxford and communities everywhere there are people with unexpected ideas for tackling problems they care about solving,” said Donna Harris, senior fellow of Heartland Forward and founder and CEO of Builders and Backers in a prepared statement. “People often just need a pathway to try those ideas. That’s what we are providing with the Idea Accelerator. We don’t know what solutions will work until we start testing them. We’re thrilled to be able to demonstrate the power of small experiments right here in Oxford.”  

“This community effort, along with the training offered through the Community Growth Program and Toolkit will make Oxford truly stand out as a community,” said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. “We can’t wait to see what experiments get up and running over the next few months and how these innovators can inspire others in the community to try out their ideas.” 

Heartland Forward’s Idea Accelerator is part of their Community Growth Program and Toolkit, or CGPT. providing communities with the resources needed to help inspire new ideas, build upon existing programs and connect with resources to achieve success. 

Heartland Forward’s 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.” They “conduct independent, data-driven research to facilitate action-oriented discussion and impactful policy recommendations.”  

Entrepreneurship is the foundation for sustained economic growth in the Heartland,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “By bringing together local partners and national organizations, the CGPT is providing communities with the resources needed to help inspire new ideas, build upon existing programs and connect with resources to achieve success. We’re so pleased to be starting the program in a community as vibrant as Oxford.” 

Anyone interested in applying or learning more about the Idea Accelerator in Oxford can visit: buildersandbackers.com/oxford-accelerator.