Oxford residents can turn ideas into reality through Idea Accelerator Program

Published 12:43 pm Thursday, November 18, 2021

Sponsored by Heartland Forward with partner Builders + Backers, the program doubles last year’s successful cohort and is brought to the Oxford community by the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber Foundation, the City of Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi.

Heartland Forward and its partners, Builders + Backers, the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber Foundation, City of Oxford, Lafayette County and The University of Mississippi, announced the expansion of the 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.

After a successful first cohort of five builders in Oxford, the program is expanding its next cohort to include 10 builders. This Oxford expansion is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to funding and supporting 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023.

“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 expanding this program in Oxford 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 Oxford community can complete an application here. Oxford residents must apply by December 12, 2021. Residents with the most promising and innovative ideas will be selected to participate in a two-month long virtual program starting on January 20th, 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.” 

“Entrepreneurial activity is important for the Oxford community and its economic vitality,” said Jon Maynard, president and CEO for the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. “It is a fundamental part of our economic strategy, so it made perfect sense for us to partner in the first-ever cohort of the Community Growth Program and Toolkit. The Builders coming out of this program were a success, and we look forward to seeing the same results of the second Oxford cohort scheduled to launch in January.” 

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 first cohort of Oxford Builders included five Builders, with ideas that solved problems in workforce development, volunteerism and more. To learn more about the Builders, see here.

About Heartland Forward

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. To learn more, visit https://heartlandforward.org/.

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.