Mayor’s Office

City Launches Mayor’s Prize to Support Entrepreneurship


October 4, 2017
Contact:  Gillian Nanton, CEDO Assistant Director of Sustainability, Housing, and Economic

   Development, 802-865-7179

   Diana Colangelo, CEDO Projects and Policy Specialist


City Launches Mayor’s Prize to Support Entrepreneurship
In Partnership with Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, City Will Award More Than $300,000 over Two Years


Burlington, VT – Mayor Weinberger today announced the launch of The Mayor’s Prize for Entrepreneurship, designed to increase support for the City’s entrepreneurs.  The Mayor’s Prize will award more than $300,000 over a two-year period to not-for-profit entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) or research organizations with a proven track record of success that propose innovative new or expanded programs to support the City’s entrepreneurs.  The goal of the Mayor’s Prize is to foster the growth and development of entrepreneurship in the city and encourage outside-the-box thinking about how best to achieve this.  The Mayor’s Prize is entirely funded by a grant from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


“Burlington has been influenced positively in many ways by the success of our entrepreneurs –, Seventh Generation, Burton Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Switchback, and many more,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “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.”


“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy,” said Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Director Noelle MacKay.  “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.”


Mayor’s Prize application process 

The Mayor’s Prize will make at least two grants each year over a two-year period. The total amount of funding available for this year is $200,000, and prizes will be awarded in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 (maximum $100,000) to two or more not-for-profit organizations and/or research organizations. Funding from the Mayor’s Prize may not be re-granted to other organizations or businesses, and may not be used to seed loan programs.  For-profit businesses are not eligible to receive funding from the Mayor’s Prize.   


The Mayor’s Prize is a competitive process where ESOs that serve Burlington entrepreneurs and businesses are invited to submit a proposal for either the expansion of a successful program or to support the creation of new, innovative programs that address the needs of entrepreneurs.  Proposals will also be accepted for research projects that evaluate the entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide valuable context for decision-making and priority-setting.  Submissions will be evaluated by a Judging Committee composed of seven people with expertise in various entrepreneurship-related fields and drawn from local and national organizations. 


Prizes will be awarded in six categories that have been determined by independent landscape analyses conducted by Kauffman and the City of Burlington.  These categories include ESOs that:

  1. Support high growth firms
  2. Provide targeted education and support for founders of businesses
  3. Connect and coordinate existing entrepreneur support services to create efficiencies
  4. Support entrepreneurs making products locally
  5. Support women- and/or minority- and/or immigrant-owned businesses
  6. Not-for-profit research organizations that research and evaluate the entrepreneurial ecosystem


Please see attached Call for Applications for more information on these categories as well as the application process and timeline.  This information may also be found on CEDO’s website at  Applications are due Friday, November 3rd, 2017 by 12:00 p.m. EST. Applicants will be informed of the final selection by December 11th, 2017.


Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private foundation established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, and is based in Kansas City, MO.  The Foundation works in the areas of entrepreneurship and education.  In 2015, the City of Burlington was chosen 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, Kauffman Program Officers visited Burlington several times over the ensuing months and conducted a landscape analysis of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 


Based on this analysis, 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 the Community & Economic Development Office 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.  This competition is based on a similar model in Albuquerque. 


* Please see Mayor’s Prize Call for Applications and Mayor’s Prize Application Instructions



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