What inspired the Greater Good Project?
Having worked in the sustainability field for many years, by 2008 it had became apparent that the concepts and benefits of the triple bottom line were not being widely applied by low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. During his inauguration, President Obama’s call for an “Era of Responsibility’ resonated with me. I had been thinking about the values that our economy is built upon and wondering if the market was adequately serving the needs of all Americas. I knew firsthand how important small businesses are to local economic development and how TBL practices create value for established companies. When coupled with my belief that business can be a major force for creating a sustainable economy, I decided it was time to help entrepreneurs from underserved communities. The idea of developing a curriculum and connecting early stage entrepreneurs with more established civic-minded businesses was cemented during the May, 2009 national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies conference. During the Denver event, my team’s ‘back of the napkin’ business plan on this idea was selected out of twenty entrees.
What is the legal structure of Greater Good?
The Greater Good Academy is organized as a project of the Progress Group, a for-profit consulting firm. The Mi Casa Resource Center, a leading economic development training entity in Colorado is serving as the 501c3 fiscal sponsor. Eventually, The Academy will be incorporated as its own non-profit entity.
How is the Greater Good funded?
The Academy is supported through a combination of training fees, City of Denver funds and personal investments. The Denver Office of Economic Development has provided training grants to support the Greater Good Academy since its founding. Non-cash support in the form of human capital (e.g., volunteer mentors and trainers) have also helped to grow the project.
What does triple-bottom-line mean?
The triple bottom line (abbreviated as "TBL" and also known as "people, planet, profit") takes into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial success. Triple-bottom-line businesses aim to create positive social and environmental change as well as generate a profit. While adopting a triple-bottom-line standard may entail upfront investments, overall profits tend to be equal to or greater than conventional businesses due to efficiency gains, increased exposure, and community support.
What is unique about the Greater Good?
While many there are many dynamic business development programs in Colorado that assist low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs, none focus on how to adopt TBL or sustainability practices. That is our focus – bringing TBL practices and their benefits to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities.
How does the Greater Good Academy complement existing local business development and green-collar jobs efforts?
The Greater Good is entering Denver in a landscape rich with business development and sustainability initiatives. In the same way that natural systems create abundance through cooperation, we intend to integrate our unique offerings with existing workforce development and entrepreneurial training programs. Our pipeline partners represent some of the most innovative training programs in the state. Our goal is support this broader ecosystem, by forming partnerships and increasing the amount of capital dedicated to the mission of advancing the triple bottom line among civic-minded small businesses.
What is the timeline for implementing the Academy?
The official launch of the Greater Good program took place on November 12, 2009 at the Mi Casa Resource Center. We now offer:
- A series of introductory workshops for interested businesses on the TBL
- Two 8-week long academies per year in Denver