Kauffman Foundation

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In 2018, The Kauffman Foundation and Initiatives, Inc., began working together to develop a process to leverage the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, known as “Opportunity Zones” for the Kansas City region. Stemmed from this collaboration is The Neighborhood Equity Pilot Program, a partnership of investors, community-based organizations, KC Common Good and Initiatives, Inc., designed to help drive the mission of both organizations WeGrowKC and Neighborhoods of Hope.

Case for Action 

The Kauffman Foundation approached Initiatives, Inc., in July of 2018 to help develop a process to leverage the newly formed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, known as “Opportunity Zones” for the Kansas City region. Throughout August and September, Initiatives worked closely with the Kauffman Foundation to help develop a project charter to create a blueprint to develop a “Kansas City Investment Prospectus.”

The Kauffman Foundation had three goals for its development:

  1. To get a basic agreement of the facts amongst participating parties, which will be known as the “Prospectus 2.0.

  2. To have a Prospectus 2.0 draft developed to roll out for Global Entrepreneur Week by November 14th.

  3. Have a completed Prospectus 2.0 by the end of 2018.

The goal is to reach a community consensus on how to accomplish the vision for “Opportunity Zone 2.0.

As part of a larger team, Kauffman directed Initiatives’ specific role to engage and project manage various parties to ensure the initial enthusiasm for Opportunity Zone 2.0 does not lose its momentum and becomes just another failed project. Two elements were necessary to make this project successful:

  1. It is rooted in facts/data

  2. To have civic buy-in that consists of three primary components: corporations, organizations and the City of KCMO, termed as the “Grass Top Level.”


Initiatives began identifying who are the entrepreneurs who want to work within Opportunity Zone 2.0 and began matching those entrepreneurs with resources such as financing, real estate projects or support services to ensure their success, while leveraging other partnering organizations for assistance and act as local “boots on the ground” to begin helping them:

  1. Uncover the demand for capital from entrepreneurs.

  2. Discover the possible supply of capital for the entrepreneurs.

  3. Seek community feedback and evaluation on entrepreneurial opportunity.

  4. Provide storytelling on investable opportunities and deal syndication.

  5. Provide a pipeline of investable entrepreneurs in the Opportunity Zone.

Stanford Investor Summit 

The Kansas City delegation successfully presented its Prospectus at the Stanford Investor Summit in Palo Alto, Calif. on March 18, 2019. The purpose was to showcase the process the Kansas City collaborative achieved to fulfill its mission.  Kansas City was showcased as a model for other communities to aspire towards in front of a national delegation of community leaders, politicians and investors. A primary purpose was to let the investor community know Kansas City Opportunity Zones are open for business. This Summit positioned Kansas City as a national leader in OZ best practices.

(Insert KC Prospectus Deck Presented at Stanford)

Project Managed a Kansas City Investor Summit 

In partnership with Kauffman and the numerous participating entities, Initiatives was given the charge to localize an experiential approach by inviting and hosting local and national investors to see first-hand what our Opportunity Zones have to offer. We also need to emphasize the process and values we have articulated for our community. This was accomplished through a “Kansas City Investor Summit” that was held June 26th and 27th.

The purpose was to showcase projects found in the pipeline along with additional emerging projects. The focus was to collaborate with investors to encourage support of economic development ventures that achieve the double bottom line of a good return on investment and revitalized urban communities.

The process was to ensure the Kansas City Investor Summit was successfully project managed and benefits the needs of the people living in Opportunity Zones, and thus, the entire community.

Kansas City’s Opportunity Zones

Where Are We Today?

In the Forbes Top 10 

Kansas City was recognized in December 2019 by Forbes as one of the Top 10 in the, “Meet the Forbes Top 20: Top Players Investing for Lasting Impact.”

Working with investors and community-based organizations, KC Common Good and Initiatives Inc. linked WeGrowKC with Neighborhoods of Hope in order to drive the mission of both organizations: provide wealth-building equity and home ownership for those in the urban core who never had the opportunity to buy a home.

This will be done by providing home ownership for those in the urban core, who historically have not been able to buy a home:

  • • This is a pilot program that has never been done before

  • • Neighborhoods of Hope has already started building homes in the Lykins neighborhood to determine the scalable proof of concept

  • • Initiatives is now finding investors to help finance and scale the number of houses built by Neighborhoods of Hope