The gym at the Ivywild School filled Aug. 23 for the official launch of the Colorado Institute for Social Impact, formerly the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado Foundation, and its new website, ci4si.org.
Attendees heard from BBB and CI4SI’s CEO Jonathan Liebert; Vice President of Business Innovation Stacey Burns; Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Gina Sacripanti; and other board members of CI4SI to learn about services that will be offered at CI4SI and hear about the new Fourth Sector in the economy.
The CI4SI serves social impact organizations and provides education and resources for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to make a social, economical or environmental impact.
The Beanstalk Foundation, an organization that works with social enterprises, hired CI4SI to conduct a Social Return on Investment study for Bridge to Justice, a nonprofit that provides legal services to low-to-moderate income Colorado citizens; results of this study were also released at the launch.
Burns announced that CI4SI is beginning two levels of classes — some similar to classes offered through the BBB, and new classes that will explain how to create, grow or convert into a social impact business.
Terry Anderson, COO of the nonprofit organization Springs Rescue Mission and Mission Catering and CI4SI board member, said that through the mentorship of Liebert and Burns, Mission Catering went from a business that was losing money to one now making almost $500,000 in annual revenue.
“To see a formal organization that’s community-facing [with] all the programs and education, I just see it exponentially changing what we’re going to see in this sector and community,” said Anderson. “One of the tenants of social enterprise is the fact that not only is it a business, but it addresses a specific social concern. How many social concerns do we have in our community? A lot right? So if there is a mechanism by which social concerns can be addressed by an entity that is self-sustaining … what kind of impact could we see in our community?”
If the Springs Rescue Mission can shelter more than 300 homeless people in Colorado Springs, taxpayers can save on police, fire and medical services, which can cost up to $57,000 a year per individual for taxpayers, Anderson said.
Bill Morris, CEO of the nonprofit Blue Star Recyclers, CI4SI board member and winner of CI4SI’s Prism Award for Social Impact Business of the Year, said that for-profit and nonprofit businesses alike could benefit from becoming a social impact organization.
“There’s a direct social impact to the community, whether that’s employing people with disabilities like Blue Star or donating to military charities,” said Morris.
Only 5 percent of Blue Star Recycler’s income comes via grants and donations because most of their income is earned, Morris said. Blue Star recycles electronic components.
Morris said Colorado Springs has potential for growing the social impact sector because of the high value the community places on social causes.
“It’s the perfect time for communities to release their dependence on the government … and solve social problems through business,” Morris said.