Mayor's Prize for Entrepreneurship

The Mayor's Prize for Entrepreneurship was launched in October 2017 in order to foster the growth and development of entrepreneurship in the City and encourage outside-the-box thinking. This prize awarded $300,000 over the course of a two-year-period to not-for-profit entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) or research organizations with a proven track record of success in proposing innovative new or expanded programs to support the City's entrepreneurs. The Mayor's Prize is entirely funded by a grant from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


To read more about the Mayor's Prize and CEDO's Involvement, please read the Press Release on VT Digger.


The City of Burlington was chosen in 2015 as one of two cities for the Kauffman Foundation's Metro Strategy Initiative, a pilot project which sought to work cooperatively with two communities in the country to develop a strategy that would improve conditions for entrepreneurial growth in those communities and bring up to $500,000 in programmatic grant-making. As part of this initiative, the "Let's Talk Progress" speaker series was launched by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce with funding from Kauffman in June 2017, and the Foundation worked with CEDO on a strategy for disbursing the remainder of the grant funds in a transparent, competitive, and equitable manner, which resulted in the Mayor's Prize.





$50,000 awarded to Generator, Burlington’s largest makerspace, which provides the tools, training, community, and workspace to help makers test, evolve, prototype, and bring their best concepts to market. With this award, Generator will complete a four-fold expansion of its JumpStart program, which provides founder education and support for early stage entrepreneurs.


$25,000 awarded to the Center for Women and Enterprise to build on the success of its Power Forward program, a four-month accelerator designed to support women-owned firms. With the award, CWE will expand this program to the food and retail industries, and also launch a new Retail Bootcamp initiative, an eight-week course designed to help retail entrepreneurs open a brick-and-mortar business.



$25,000 awarded to the Women’s Small Business Program, which provides business and financial education to aspiring women entrepreneurs. With the award, WSBP will activate its extensive alumnae network and expand into new initiatives, including specialized workshops, peer-to-peer exchanges, and mentoring networks.



The Center for Women and Enterprise was awarded $55,000 to launch their new initiative, Power Forward; an accelerator program to support high growth women-owned firms across all sectors.



BTV Ignite was awarded $50,000 to fund their new initiative, the BTV Ignite Growth Acceleration Program, which will focus on providing high-quality independent specialized advisory and development support to “growth stage” companies with a digital or technology focus.




Vermont Law School was awarded $50,000 to help fund a program that provides free or low-cost legal services to startup and emerging companies in Burlington, with a focus on sustainable or green businesses striving to reach a “triple bottom line” related to social, environmental and financial outcomes.


The Mercy Connections Women’s Small Business Program was awarded $45,000 to expand their existing program to better support and engage their alumni network, strengthen their entrepreneurial team to enhance support to entrepreneurs, and allow for new, innovative programs.

Mayor's Prize of Entrepreneurship Reasoning


"Burlington has been influenced positively in many ways by the success of our entrepreneurs – Dealer.com, Seventh Generation, Burton Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Switchback, and many more." As a City, we want to do more to foster the pioneering spirit and restless vision that animates our entrepreneurs. I am excited to announce the Mayor’s Prize competition to incentivize creative thinking for how best to support the next generation of Burlington’s entrepreneurs.”

- Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, 2012 - present


“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy; CEDO was delighted to work with the Kauffman Foundation to bring the Mayor’s Prize program to fruition in support of our entrepreneurs. By funding innovative programs that offer technical assistance, education, business advising, and other services to entrepreneurs, the Mayor’s Prize will strengthen the network of support for these creative members of our community.”

- Noelle MacKay, Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Director, 2017-2018