By David Kraus

At CO.STARTERS, we believe that reflecting on the past is one of the most effective ways to ensure future success. With this in mind, we spent our January community call listening to members from around the globe recount their 2017 success stories. From Denver, Colorado to Auckland, New Zealand, CO.STARTERS supported communities contributed to the flourishing of neighborhoods, businesses, and individuals all over the world. While the stories shared are too numerous to recount here, the following should give you a taste.

The Commons on Champa // Denver, CO

Jacqui from The Commons on Champa in Denver reported a tremendously successful year. Having only joined CO.STARTERS this past April, they already graduated three cohorts. One graduate has a Yelp rating indicating her as a top DIY in the country. Another graduate was accepted into a major accelerator program in Boulder. These successes are increasing the flow of applications to The Commons as alumni recruit new participants.

Corner to Corner // Nashville, TN

Nathan, who spoke to us from Corner to Corner in Nashville, reported great success with the four cohorts that have graduated since initiation of the CO.STARTERS program back in 2016. One catering business is planning to open a brick and mortar store; another graduate, who struggled with homelessness before joining the CO.STARTERS program, founded an exceptionally prosperous cleaning business.

Create Birmingham in partnership with REV Birmingham // Birmingham, AL

Over in Birmingham, Create Birmingham and REV’s partnership has seen the growth and establishment of several food-related businesses this year, some of whom went on to participate in restaurant accelerator programs. In fact, one couple went on from the CO.STARTERS program to win a $25,000 prize from the Big Pitch competition; the owners are using the cash prize to transform their corner convenience shop into a standard grocery store and contribute to the revitalization of the surrounding community.

Project United Knowledge // Kansas City, MO        

Over 550 miles away in Kansas City, Project United Knowledge has successfully supported an extremely diverse cohort—graduates’ ages ranged from 28 to 75! Two non-profits that graduated from the program have received their 501(c)(3) status, and one graduate is already working on a prototype for his tech startup. Additionally, ProjectUK is looking to partner with the city transportation department in their work; a city manager is already on board to assist with that mission. Because of ProjectUK’s fantastic results, other local organizations are reaching out, seeking advice on how to improve diversity and inclusion efforts.

We also heard about some amazing work happening at the Build Institute (Detroit, MI), the Knoxville Area Urban League (Knoxville, TN), Domi Station (Tallahassee, FL), Aspin Group (Brisbane, Australia), and EcoMatters (Auckland, New Zealand). While these are just a handful of success stories shared by our friends around the world, we are encouraged and inspired by the work being done by our members. We can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring!