Bull City Forward: For Your Consideration For the Green Plus People’s Choice Award

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Bull City Forward, a finalist in the Green Plus Non-Profit / Social Entrepreneurship category, is also eligible to win the Green Plus People’s Choice Award. Bull City Forward is a community effort to dramatically increase the creation, scale, and impact of social enterprises in Durham, NC.

In Their Own Words: “We are guided by the conviction that in purposefully recruiting, enabling, and scaling social enterprises and socially driven entrepreneurs, Durham can create a robust cluster of innovation for the region that will spur economic development, improve the lives of citizens, and produce a new model of urban development.  Thus, the mission of Bull City Forward is “to enable entrepreneurs to create positive change.”

Bull City Forward envisions a transformation across Durham and the region, where a world-class cluster of creative minds is scaling for-profit companies and non-profit enterprises that are not only contributing thousands of jobs to the economy but are also improving the local and global community in meaningful and measurable ways.  This cluster is supported by a robust talent pipeline of problem-solvers who are homegrown locally and recruited globally.  This community is defined by collaboration, sustainability, diversity, and accountability and its success has attracted millions of new dollars in investment.  Much like Research Triangle Park half-a-century before, Durham’s Bull City Forward is studied as a global model of economic and community development and the city is recognized as a global leader of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

In order to realize this vision, Bull City Forward has set clear and measurable goals for the next three years.  Of highest priority are to:

  • Raise the concentration of local entrepreneurial talent and connect talent with high growth social enterprises;
  • Enable local entrepreneurs to start and scale enterprises that lead to measurable economic growth and social impact across the region;
  • Attract new talent and capital to the region to accelerate this growth;
  • Increase collaboration between sectors to realize a more comprehensive, effective and metrics-driven regional social change strategy.

To achieve these goals, Bull City Forward is implementing a set of strategic interventions designed to expand the local base of entrepreneurial talent and equip social innovators to thrive.  These interventions will focus on the following areas of programming and services, in line with Bull City Forward’s mission:


Develop & Mentor our local talent at all ages and stages of life, comprising activities in:

  • Middle and High School Partnerships: To inspire and prepare the next generation of social innovators in this community, Bull City Forward is partnering with Durham Public Schools to bring entrepreneurial leadership opportunities into the classroom and beyond.
  • Bridging Higher Education: Connecting this area’s unparalleled pool of highly educated talent from Duke, NCCU, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Durham Tech with internship and research opportunities that match their interests and advance the greater good.  Additionally, Bull City Forward will help enable student led ventures that show potential for growth and impact.
  • Training/Mentorship for Mid-Career Entrepreneurs: Recognizing that innovators take many different paths before launching their first venture, and connecting those mid-career women and men who are ready to act on their bold idea with the community, mentors and networks of support they need to realize their dreams.

Recruit & Retain, so that Durham becomes recognized as “the best place in the world for people who want to change the world.”  This effort will include:

  • Publicity: Boosting Durham’s state and national profile as the center for social innovation by targeting key national players in entrepreneurship, business incubation, and social enterprise creation.
  • Recruitment Package: Creating dynamic recruitment materials that will attract best-in-class social enterprises, leaders and investments to Durham.
  • Targeted Retention Campaign: Collaborating with local universities to build on the “brain gain” of young people who are excited about contributing to Durham’s bright entrepreneurial future.


Connect & Invest, to build the organizational capacity of social enterprises:

  • Community Building: Creating a comprehensive and open-source directory of all available resources for social entrepreneurs in the community, and following up with a needs analysis to clarify areas of greatest opportunity.
  • Venture Enabling: Offering social innovators targeted resources, including: capacity-building programs offered through strategic partnerships; subsidized co-working space and discounted business services; connections to local talent; access to capital; and robust measurement tools that supply clear metrics for success.

Research and Advocate, including:

  • Regional Collaboration:  Convening social enterprises around the Triangle in conjunction with the NC Fourth Sector Working Group to collectively determine the best policy climate for the continued development of this cluster.
  • Research:  Analysis of the role of social ventures in the economic development of a region and distribution of those results.
  • Policy Advocacy:  Political and legislative advocacy that will support Bull City Forward’s agenda of social innovation and entrepreneurship at the city and state levels.”

The Institute for Sustainable Development / Green Plus


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