The Board of Directors of Forward Communities, a local non-profit that has served as the fiscal sponsor of Bull City Forward, has announced that it is electing a new board of directors.
The move was precipitated by the decision to transfer operations of Bull City Forward says outgoing Board Chair, Rachel Meyer. “Bull City Forward was founded on the belief that Durham was the best place in the world for people and businesses who want to change the world. We’ve been privileged to offer support, connection and resources to entrepreneurs in Durham and across North Carolina for eight years.” Meyer says the organization is proud of its accomplishments, but also believes the time has come to transition its programs and missions to other area organizations to carry the torch forward.
Indeed, when Bull City Forward was first created, there were only a handful of resources in the community for entrepreneurs. In less than a decade, Durham has seen tremendous growth of services and organizations dedicated to the support of small businesses and startups. American Underground is often recognized as the leader in co-working spaces, though organizations like Invictus and ReCity are also playing an important role in providing affordable and collaborative work space. Duke University has the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at its Fuqua School of Business and recently renovated a downtown warehouse space to house the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. All of this has been enough for Google to take notice, installing one of its “Google for Entrepreneurs” Tech Hubs in downtown Durham.
Bull City Forward’s contributions during its tenure include starting one of Durham’s first entrepreneurial co-working spaces, developing and managing Innovation Challenges with partners like Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the United Way of the Greater Triangle, and launching a Forward Fellows program for local high-impact social entrepreneurs.
Moving forward, another Durham organization, the Helius Foundation, will be taking on Bull City Forward’s programs as part of its mission to support necessity-based entrepreneurs in the Bull City and across the state. One of these programs is the “Transform Your Life Through Entrepreneurship” series, which is a set of events aimed at reaching necessity-driven entrepreneurs that may not yet be connected to the burgeoning community of start-ups in Durham. Helius operates out of ReCity, one of the many organizations that have emerged in recent years to aid the progression of social enterprises.
A new Board of Directors has also been established for Forward Communities to help continue its mission of “educating and engaging local citizens as problem solvers in their community with a particular focus on young adults (aged 16-24), women, and entrepreneurs of color – providing them with the skills, tools, resources, and support they need to envision positive change in their neighborhoods and put their ideas into action.” Christopher Gergen, one of the new Forward Communities’ board members and founding Executive Director of Bull City Forward, says “while we’re sad to say goodbye to the targeted support Bull City Forward offered to the entrepreneurial community in Durham, we are excited to be able to continue the good work of Forward Communities in the region and across North Carolina.” This work includes supporting Forward Cities, a multi-city learning collaborative between Durham, New Orleans, Detroit, and Cleveland focused on inclusive innovation. Other anticipated programs include entrepreneurship education programs for young women, supporting a network of social entrepreneurs in NC, and efforts to increase the activity and connectivity of entrepreneurs of color across the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte.
The current board would like to thank all of the participants in our history; the original founders, current and past board members, executive directors, staff, partners, sponsors, members, and participants in numerous events and challenges. We are proud to have known you, and look forward to seeing how you continue to make an impact in our community, and the world.