Press Release: Applications Now Open Across the Heartland for Residents to Turn New Business Ideas into Reality Through Idea Accelerator Program


The program is welcoming new cohorts in the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta region, Detroit, Eastern Shawnee tribe, Montgomery, Northwest Arkansas, Tulsa, and West Tennessee

Bentonville, Ark. – Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers are proud to announce the opening of applications for residents across the heartland to access training, resources and up to $5,000 to help them turn ideas into potential businesses or ventures. 

Anyone in the following communities with a creative and unexpected idea for a new business or for solving a problem facing their community is encouraged to apply:

  • Arkansas-Mississippi Delta region
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Northwest Arkansas
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma 
  • West Tennessee
  • Eastern Shawnee tribe members in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

The Builders + Backers Idea Accelerator Program powered by Heartland Forward is designed to make it easy for anyone to experiment with entrepreneurship. Applicants are not required to submit a business plan or have a pitch deck for their idea. This new summer cohort is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to supporting 1,000 Builders across the heartland. 

Those interested can apply here. Webinars will be held for interested applicants to learn more about the program on April 18 and May 3. The application deadline is Monday, May 22. Residents with the most promising and innovative ideas will be selected to participate in a two-month long virtual program starting on June 8th, 2023.

At the heart of the program are the four 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 program was first piloted in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Oxford, Mississippi in summer 2021, and since, there have been over 400 Builders across 15 cities. To learn more about the Builders, see here


Lara Cooper

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

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.