KC Cornerstone Project
Creating adaptable, sustainable space for neighborhoods to eliminate all barriers, ensuring equitable access to cornerstones of every life.
An innovation lab dedicated to creating person-centered, barrier-free, community-led solutions to promote the most core needs of every life, #KCCornerstoneProject serves as hub for the generative design process and year-long, regional community exploration designed to Build Equity Today, Capacity Tomorrow.
KC Corner Deli was the innovation leading to KC Cornerstone Project’s founding.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
KC Cornerstones LLC
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Past collaborations included cross-sector, regional organizations including Kansas City Public Library, Cornerstones of Care, YMCA, Blue Cross Blue Shield KC, Health Forward Foundation, Saint Luke’s Health System, and the City of Kansas City Missouri had signed on to develop the project. An advisory team remains to guide and mold the project as it shifts to the public domain in late February 2020.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Kansas City, Missouri
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
After nearly a decade away from living in the Midwest, KC Cornerstone Project founder Beau G. Heyen proudly returned to Kansas City in 2015, boldly stating, “if any city can end hunger, homelessness and poverty, its Kansas City.” Home of innovation and entrepreneurship, over two million neighbors across the bistate, nine-county, 119-municipality Greater Kansas City region put the heart in America’s heartland.
Home of the Kansas City Community Kitchen, the birthplace of “Dining with Dignity,” Kansas City’s rich history boasts the location of the first national gathering of gay and lesbian leaders a year before the Stonewall Riots and emerges as a leader in the Smart Cities movement. Community spirit runs deep, seen through top-ranked volunteerism and philanthropic giving. As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for Super Bowl 50, the community remembers our recent World Series win, resulting in over 200,000 Royal’s fans walking from every corner of the city to celebrate.
As our world enters the Age of Automation, Kansas City, like every other part of the country, has begun to feel the strains of increased population density due to the continued rural to urban migration and continuous population growth. While crime and poverty are on the rise, the people seem ready to do the best thing for their neighbors. Politically, as seen through the adoption of Tobacco 21, the divided governmental and geographical region provides optimal leverage points to move policy quickly.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Known for jazz and BBQ, the Mid-America Regional Council describes the region as follows,
Greater Kansas City is a region of opportunity. Its robust economy, healthy environment and social capacity support the creativity, diversity, and resilience of its people, places, and communities.
Formed at the confluence of rivers, trails, and trains on the border of two states, Greater Kansas City is a place of interconnection, where people of all backgrounds are welcome and where commerce and ideas flow as freely as the rivers and streams that run through and define it. Our people thrive here, in safe, walkable and well-maintained neighborhoods. We have abundant opportunities for education, and work in fulfilling jobs at businesses that can compete with any in the world. We enjoy, protect and preserve our region’s natural beauty. We care for our neighbors and our communities. We lead by example. Our region has the strength to not only bounce back from adversity but bounce forward, confidently, into the future.
According to Forbes, Kansas City, MO-KS Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked #51 in Best Places for Business and Careers, #50 in Education, and #91 inJob Growth, with the cost of living 3% below the national average. Further stating,
Kansas City is well known for its contributions to the musical styles of jazz and blues as well as to cuisine, specifically, Kansas City-style barbecue. With over 200 fountains it is has earned the nickname, “City of Fountains,” and claims to have the second-most in the world, just behind Rome. The city also has more boulevards than any city except Paris and has been called Paris of the Plains. Many universities, colleges, and seminaries are located in the Kansas City metropolitan area, including the University of Missouri–Kansas City, Rockhurst University and Kansas City Art Institute among others.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
No one can thrive on an empty stomach—yet Feeding America shows the six-county greater Kansas City metropolitan area reported more than 250,000 food-insecure people in 2016—14% of those counties’ total population (KS: Johnson, Wyandotte; MO: Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass). Harvesters Community Food Network states one in seven people in our region is at risk for hunger and, of those, 39% do not qualify for federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
Through research and discussions generated by NoruishKC’s Hunger Summit initiative, community members characterized the emergency food system in Kansas City with poor communication between providers; little activity between them to increase efficiency (e.g., transferring unused food to providers in need, transferring food with cultural appeal to appropriate sites); little consumer input; inefficiencies forcing patrons to visit several providers for food; territorial actions; scarcity mindset (“If I have honest conversations with peers, they will poach funding, staff, patrons”); and duplication of services resulting in inefficient use of funds, volunteers, staff, and other critical resources.
To fully understand food insecurity, barriers of affordability, accessibility, and convenience to interconnected services, such as child care, healthcare, counseling, attainable housing, and employment, must also be considered. Knowledge, cultural acceptance and personal will also play a pivotal role in the lack of equitable food access.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Until now, no one has been willing to talk about the challenges of Kansas City’s local food system or had resources for implementing wide-spread change with lasting impact on the health and wellness of underserved populations.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Beau G Heyen served as CEO of NourishKC until January 2019.
What if...a question could inspire change
KC Corner Deli Features
Interactive Business Canvas Model available online integrates evidence with innovation
Dedicated to creating person-centered, barrier-free, community-led solutions to promote the most core needs of every life (energy, identity, community, discovery) and building from previous work in the region and around the world, KC Cornerstone Project features a network of mixed-use, environmentally-responsible, community-owned, flexibly-designed buildings that will provide space for the community to provide financially-sustainable, affordable (updated pay what you can), accessible (24/7, within walking distance), convenient access to community-identified service, including KC Corner Deli (fast, fresh food), flexible housing units (15,000 total units, moveable walls), primary health services (including minute clinic, dental and counseling), early childhood education, and an 8500+ member employee cooperative ($12-15/hr, housing, food) designed for individual development beyond work.
Capital expenses for construction of the 250+ sites and four backbone campuses is estimated to cost $1.2B, or $600 per individual living in the bistate Greater Kansas City Region. Annual operational expenses, including all goods and services, are estimated at $500M, equal to 70% of the population spending $1 per day on services provided at each site, which does not include health insurance, government programs or purchase of created energy. Profits will be shared with community members through dividends and a future innovation fund.
The project will be given to the community in September 2020 for a year-long, sense-making exploration to ensure all barriers are lifted and every opportunity explored. Current draft versions of the business model, construction blueprints, program design, operational procedures and the theory of change motivating the project will become public domain during an 18-week Generative Design Process, starting February 26, 2020. Together, we will finish the design phase, with no one person or organization benefiting financially from the process.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?