The Greater Good Academy
The Greater Good Academy (GGA), located in Denver, CO, knows that highly creative individuals who imagine new solutions to achieve economic, social and environmental success exist everywhere. The GGA provides early-stage entrepreneurswith the training, support and resources needed to accelerate the impact of their business goals. The purpose-driven mission of the GGA is to help incubate the next generation of civic-minded entrepreneurs to cultivate a business community dedicated to theeconomic, social and environmental successof all people.
Over the past decade, it has become clear that businesses which care for the environment, create healthy workplaces, and improve the quality of life in their communities are more likely to become more successful and profitable. Known as the Triple Bottom Line – People, Planet, & Profit– this idea is revolutionizing the business world. Companies, large and small, that have adopted a triple bottom line (TBL) way of thinking are securing new clients, distinguishing themselves from the competition, and strengthening their market positions.
Yet many entrepreneurs – especially those from emerging economic communities (minorities, veterans, youth, elderly, and the disabled) aren't familiar with triple bottom line practices. Further, they typically face barriers to access the capital or technical resources to implement these practices or realize the potential of their ventures.
As its signature program, The Greater Good Academy provides an eight-week class designed to help entrepreneurs of early-stage businesses to embrace the entrepreneurial process and refine their concepts for maximum impact through the development of a concise business plan. We call this a "Triple Bottom Line Action Plan". Throughout the program, the entrepreneurs are connected with key players in the local business community- both as guest faculty and as mentors. By the 8th week, each entrepreneur has completed a plan that lays out their company's mission, strategic position, market/industry/competitive research, marketing strategy, operations plan, and financial projections, while also integrating environmental and social value creation into their overall business strategy. The class meets for eight consecutive Monday nights.
The goal of the GGA is to provide TBL entrepreneurs with the training and financial support necessary to succeed and scale their ventures. The GGA helps to incubate green businesses, strengthen local communities, create jobs and increaseeconomic self-sufficiency.
The Greater Good was launched in November 2009in partnership with many of Denver’s leading non-profit economic development groups, including theOffice of Economic Development. There have been seven academies held since 2010, graduating a total of 106 entrepreneurs.
The Greater Good Academy is comprised of three components - Identify, Train, and Fund - designed to accelerate dozens of entrepreneurs towards the triple bottom line model:
Participants are often recruited into the Academy through our Community Partners; a coalition of nonprofit business development, government agencies and educational institutions. Besides hosting our informational sessions and promoting Greater Good courses and events, these partners provide valuable input into the overall structure and implementation of our program.
Our comprehensive 8-week business development course that guides entrepreneurs, step by step, in how to incorporate TBL strategies into their overall business operations. The curriculum focuses on real-life challenges and opportunities facing small businesspeople and uses measurable assignments that apply TBL thinking to a company’s financial, administrative, operations and marketing strategies. The Academy culminates in a public showcase and celebration of the Academy’s TBL entrepreneurs. During and after the Academy, participants are supported bymentors; a network of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders
While a triple bottom line plan typically results in greater revenue and profit, it often necessitates an upfront investment of capital from ‘patient’ or nontraditional lenders to get going. This is especially true for low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs who may not have established credit histories. We help connect Academy graduates and other TBL companies from underserved communities with the appropriate resources to finance the sustainable growth of their business.
The time for the Greater Good is now. Our mission is bold, yet focused and results-oriented. Successful small and micro-businesses are essential to a vibrant economy, and nowhere is this truer than in Colorado.
"Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation.”
- Paul Hawken