What Is Best for Colorado?

Across Colorado’s business community, a variety of initiatives are working to help grow the sustainability movement. All these initiatives share a common vision: accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. These initiatives highlight and share best practices and tools, giving companies the opportunity to learn from their peers and to join of a movement that is working for good.

You may have heard about B Corp certification, B Local Colorado, the Best for Colorado program, and benefit corporations. We know the intersections and unique qualities of these concepts can be confusing, so we have created a guide to help distinguish between these different tools, initiatives, and organizations.

Organization, Program, or Certification?

  • Best for Colorado is a program and a challenge run by The Alliance Center, which invites all Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey.
  • B Corp certification is a certification of performance, like LEED certification for buildings or FairTrade certification for coffee. B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. To be certified, a company has to meet the legal requirement of a benefit corporation; meaning they must consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders. Because of these high-standards, the B Corp community represents the leaders of the movement to use business as a force for good.
  • B Local Colorado is a non-profit organization that serves as the home of engagement and volunteer opportunities for the Colorado community of Certified B corporations – creating space to connect, grow and give back to the communities where they work and live.

Where should your company engage?

Best for Colorado is specifically designed to engage all businesses on the path to positive impact, regardless of whether B Corp certification is a goal for their organization. The Best for Colorado program is the prime business environment for a company curious to learn more and assess its performance in corporate social responsibility with no fees, legal requirements, of any sort. Companies self-report their information for the Best for Colorado program, allowing them to start from any place on their sustainability journey.

Certified B Corps go through a more in-depth process. B Corp requirements include meeting a minimum level of performance on the full Impact Assessment and making a legal commitment to adopt the benefit corporation status and the requirements to consider shareholders in decision making. B Corps also receive additional benefits as a result, and there is a fee associated with the certification.

A close partnership to grow the sustainability movement in Colorado

Best for Colorado is a program focused on business improvement by connecting companies to local resources and programming. Best for Colorado is valuable to ordinary businesses but also to B Corps who are looking to improve their practices and to receive support along the way.

After launching the Best for Colorado challenge, B Lab transferred the reins of the program to The Alliance Center in October, 2018. B Lab will continue to be a strategic parter for the program, providing technological support and administering the full B Impact Assessment. Certified B Corporations in Colorado are invited to engage with Best for Colorado in in a few ways: In a leadership capacity, by serving as a mentor or speaker, or by sharing stories and best practices to inspire other Best for Colorado companies to follow in their footsteps. They are also invited to engage in the program as a participant, to utilize the impact improvement education and resources. This is a great way for B Corps to improve their B Impact score before recertification!

Colorado Gives Day: Resources from The Alliance Center

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Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4. On this day of giving, thousands of Coloradans come together to support nonprofit organizations across the state. The Alliance Center has set a goal of raising $25,000. You can help us reach this goal! A gift of any amount helps us continue our work toward an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all. Visit our Colorado Gives Day page to learn more and schedule your gift. Make sure to check our list of Colorado companies who match their employees’ donations, and reach out to your HR department to double your impact!

You can also help spread the word! Click here to download our Colorado Gives Day social media toolkit, which includes ideas for social media posts and emails to your network. Right click on graphics below to download and share on social media.

Instagram Graphics

         

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Download full toolkit here.

The Alliance Center to head Best for Colorado program

In May, The Alliance Center was honored to celebrate the Best for Colorado Awards with B Lab and the Best for Colorado partners. It was a thrill to spend the evening with an amazing group of leaders who are using their forces for good – harnessing the power of business to not only be the best in Colorado but also to be the best FOR Colorado.

Here at The Alliance Center, we connect people to inspire impact. We drive collaborative solutions to create a sustainable future – a future where our communities are inclusive, our democracy is strong, our economy thrives and our planet is healthy. We know that this beautiful vision can only be accomplished through collaboration, especially with the private sector.

We actively work to create a sustainable and inclusive world through our building, using it as an incubator of green building innovation, piloting and testing cutting-edge technology and ideas to reduce greenhouse gases, while enhancing the human experience, and the wellness of community that it serves. We do this through our 50 tenant organizations that are leaders in the sustainability movement in Colorado.

We do this through our impact programming that convenes government, nonprofit, academia and for profit stakeholders to drive collaborative solutions for the largest problems we face in our economy, our environment and our communities. But, a sustainable future is not possible without leadership and innovations from private sector. Colorado has one of the highest percentages of B Corp certified businesses in the country. We are already leading the way.

This is why The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce that we are closely with B Lab to transfer Best for Colorado over to the Alliance Center as the new Program Lead.

We can’t wait to harness the power and passion of the community of Colorado B Corp leaders and Best for Colorado participants, and together with B Local, B Lab and many other partners, continue to help companies deepen and measure their impact. We see this evolution of the Best for Colorado program as an incredible opportunity to play a more central role in creating a thriving regional economy that honors community, respects nature, and engages others in this powerful movement.

We each play a role in moving this important work forward, individually, and collectively. In addition to our roles as employees, business owners or leaders in the community, we each also harness individual power to align our daily choices with our values. Each of us votes multiple times everyday with our dollars. We the people have the purchasing power to drive a galvanizing movement. Ready to vote wisely with your dollars? Check out these resources:

When the power of the people voting with their dollars is paired with the inspirational leadership we are seeing from our B Corp and Best for Colorado communities, this movement will be unstoppable! But only if we fully engage, inspire others to step up and make it possible for even more to join.

We at The Alliance Center are incredibly excited to lead this program and begin working to diligently transform the business paradigm, fully embracing the true power we hold and harnessing that power to be the best for Colorado, and the best for the world.

Written by Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, The Alliance Center Executive Director

Closing The Climate Gap

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The Climate Gap in Colorado

Many of us have heard about the big challenges climate change is bringing to Colorado. From forest fires to drought, and from extreme floods to abysmal snowpack, we’re beginning to see the fallout from climate change across the state. What we used to think of as tomorrow’s crisis is happening today. Underserved communities in our urban centers are being hit first and worst by the effects of climate change. The Climate Gap is the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color living in more polluted areas and the poor.

In Colorado, many people have been struggling to manage the challenges of climate change for decades. For example, the climate gap means that communities of color living in inequitable conditions and the poor are suffering more during extreme heat waves. We are already experiencing intensified heat waves in our urban centers due to rising temperatures and the heat island effect. The western United States has seen a larger increase in average temperature in the past decade than any other part of the country. The heat island effect describes urban areas that experience much higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas. Without access to air conditioning or cars to escape the heat, families living below the poverty line are at a much higher risk for mortality than others.

The climate gap also means that communities of color and the poor will breathe even dirtier air. Denver is notorious for our sub-par air quality, in fact we were just rated the 14th most polluted city in America for high ozone according to the American Lung Association. In fact, according to The Denver Business Journal the Denver zip code 80216 in north-east Denver is the most polluted zip code in the entire U.S. What does this mean for families living in Denver? The highest majorities of people of color and low-income residents are in some of the most polluted neighborhoods of Denver. These communities are projected to suffer from the largest increase in smog associated with climate change. More air pollution means more cases of asthma among children, more missed school days, more unpaid days for the caring parents, less income for families who already struggle to access reliable and affordable transportation, more missed hospital and health care appointments, and a host of other concerns that ripple outward as we link climate change to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Where America Stands

With Trump in the White House, America has pulled out of many of the national and international climate mitigation initiatives including the Paris Agreement. However, in the vacuum of federal leadership on climate, many local, state and regional governments have taken the lead on greenhouse gas reductions. Initiatives such as the U.S. Climate Alliance,  America’s Pledge and We Are Still In represent non-national actors that are committing to reduce emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C. The organizations and individuals who have signed on to these initiatives represent $10.1 trillion in GDP from the United States alone.

In Colorado, Governor John Hicklenlooper recently announced a 2018 update to the Colorado Climate Plan. The state objective is to cut greenhouse gases by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and to cut carbon from the electricity sector by 25 percent compared to 2012 by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030. The updated plan outlines advances in climate change management at the state level, as well as the progress that has been made since the release of the initial plan in 2015. Over the last three years, some examples of progress that has been made toward climate change mitigation in Colorado include joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, the adoption of the statewide electric vehicle plan, and the passing of the Denver Green Roof Initiative. The report also takes into account changes in both global and federal climate policy. In the updated Climate Plan, the authors recognize that “for communities with inequitable living conditions, such as low-income and communities of color living in more polluted areas, climate change is likely to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.”

So, there is some good news. Through strategic collaboration, individuals and organizations across the country are advancing climate change action despite federal-level barriers. In Colorado, our climate policies and plans are integrating environmental justice into the equation for climate change solutions. But there is still a long way to go.

Where You Come In: Climate + Equity

Governor Hickenlooper and his senior staff will be visiting The Alliance Center on June 14 to discuss the updated Colorado Climate Plan and how we can meet Colorado’s state goal with actions at all levels – personal, community, and government. The event is sold out, but it will be live-streamed here.

Here at The Alliance Center, we intentionally integrate equity into all aspects of our work. We believe that a climate change solution that is not founded on environmental justice is not a solution at all. Integrating equity into each aspect of our work takes dedication, clarity, and a lot of help. In 2018 we are creating new educational and collaborative initiatives that feature equity at their core.

Our Climate + Series connects climate change to everyday issues that people can relate to such as health or housing and gives them tools to take action. At all of our Alliance Center-led events we are offering free translation services as well as limited transportation for members of underserved communities who want to participate in our events but would not be able to do so if transportation services were not provided.

As we bring people together to create sustainable solutions, we are working to break down the barriers to participation for members of underserved communities. Climate change is affecting each of us, and no community should have to carry the burden of these challenges more than another. With your help, we can scale up our impact and create solutions that honor each other and the planet.

Announcing our new Executive Director

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The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, former Director of Programs, as our new Executive Director! Read more about the exciting transition in a letter from Brenna below.

Dear Friends,

Sustainability to me is more than a buzzword. It is not just recycling or installing LED lights. It is a set of values. It’s a lifestyle, one that honors the connectedness, finds balance, and strives for harmony in all systems — living and human generated.

The Alliance Center is sustainability in action. It is my great honor to step into the role of Executive Director and work with the amazing team who have been my close colleagues for the past three years to help create a truly sustainable and inclusive future. A future that works for all.

I joined The Alliance Center in 2015 after a very intentional career change. I had been working at the Brown Palace Hotel heading up their sustainability initiatives and wanted to find a place where I could have a deeper impact; where I could live and breathe sustainability — nothing less. After a ten-year career in the hospitality industry creating and leading sustainability programs for some of the premier hotel brands at the corporate and property level, I made a dramatic change in my professional life. I made it my mission to join the organization that is central to the sustainability movement in Colorado.

It is an honor beyond words to be working with our passionate and dedicated team and board, and collaborating with our extremely high-caliber tenants and partners. I feel a natural high every time I walk into The Alliance Center, and I can feel the energy seeped in passion, action and impact. To me, The Alliance Center is the most inspirational organization, housed in the most innovative building in Colorado. We are LEED V4.1 Platinum certified and are working to change the paradigm for how buildings interact with our energy grid, while driving collaborative solutions in our economy, our environment and our communities.

Over the last few years we have intentionally taken the time to clearly define our vision and the impact we want to make in the world, and we have developed a comprehensive strategy to achieve our lofty goals. We are now ready to implement our plan and help create a world where our communities are inclusive, our democracy is strong, our economy thrives, and our planet is healthy. 

The challenges we face today are existential and threaten our very survival. We simply do not have time for petty squabbles, partisan politics, tribalistic narratives, or 20th century band-aid solutions. Now is the time when we must come together in deep solidarity to co-create solutions for the 21st century and beyond.

I am elated to lead an organization that will play a mighty role in this paradigm shift. I personally invite you to join us on this journey. It will take each and every one of us, working together, to create the world we are proud to pass along to our children and grandchildren.

From the front lines of the sustainability movement, and with my deepest gratitude,

Brenna Simmons-St. Onge

The Alliance Center’s Rebrand

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Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing they share in common is a desire to scale up their impact on the world. Collaboration has long been touted as the best way for nonprofits to scale up, but the actual practice of collaboration is often messy, making it hard to measure the impacts of these efforts.

At The Alliance Center in Denver, CO, over 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations work under one roof. We are a mission-driven nonprofit with an event and collaborative working space which is dedicated to bringing people together to create a sustainable and inclusive future. As the operator of a collaborative working space, we strive to create a work environment that is inspiring, inviting, and that promotes constructive interactions between tenants.

The Alliance Center recently underwent a brand realignment process to reconnect with our mission. As part of this process, we changed the name of the organization from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to The Alliance Center. For many years, the building that houses the collaborative working spaces was named The Alliance Center while the nonprofit organization that managed the building and created programming was called the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. This caused considerable confusion. While we are excited to have one name for all aspects of our work, changing our name to The Alliance Center is about a lot more than simplifying our moniker.

The Alliance Center is the space where people come together to build the sustainability movement. We are honored to have a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit tenants in the building who are working on a variety of different sustainability-focused initiatives. While our mission has always been to create a sustainable future, for the past few years, we have focused primarily on own initiatives rather than on helping to grow our community of tenants, supporters and friends. Our rebranding is designed to change that.

How are we changing our brand? First and foremost, our focus is on our community and on scaling up the impact of the sustainability movement. We have begun to implement new tenant-centered programming such as our Expertise Exchange lunches where our tenants can share their knowledge about fundraising, communications, technology and many other topics. We are also working more closely with our tenants to create shared programming which will focus on the three tiers of sustainability: our environment, our economy, and our communities. Strengthening and diversifying our relationships with our tenants is at the core of our updated brand strategy.

Our community also extends beyond the walls of The Alliance Center. We will be rolling out a membership program in 2018 that is designed to grow the sustainability movement and to give individuals and organizations tangible ways to live, work, and play more sustainably. Members will have access to networking opportunities with the giants of sustainability, discounts at our café, first looks into upcoming sustainability-focused events and much more.

Why are we doing this? Because we believe that we can make a bigger impact with a stronger, more connected, and more inspired community. We will be tracking the impacts of our new initiatives through tenant and supporter-focused outreach, through social media hashtags such as #AllianceforAction, and through our tangible metrics related to waste diversion, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and much more.

Enjoy looking around our new site, and we can’t wait to share more of our new initiatives with you in the future.