Hacienda CDC begins an Environmental Economy program, a disciplined effort to identify an environmental business opportunity appropriate for Hacienda CDC and its resident community. Beginning from an "Opportunities by Sector" list created by Ecotrust, Hacienda CDC staff analyzed demand, capital need, training need, and community capacity of each opportunity. A native plant nursery business was selected and a business plan created.
The Environmental Economy program becomes the Sustainable Development program, and receives significant grants from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund. Hacienda CDC decides to establish a wholly separate, independent nonprofit group to house the nursery business and future environmental job, training and entrepreneurial opportunities for Hacienda CDC residents and other disadvantaged communities. Verde incorporated on October 19, 2005, commenced operations on November 1, 2005, and received tax-exempt status from the IRS in October 2006 - retroactive to incorporation
Verde prioritized social enterprise planning and growth, launching 3 enterprises: Verde Landscape, Verde Nursery and Verde Energy. As a result, Verde experienced broad enterprise success -- creating jobs, paying good wages and benefits, securing larger contracts, providing increasingly skilled services, and generating income from enterprise products and services.
From the beginning, social enterprise was not just an economic development strategy, but an environmental participation strategy based on environmental job creation - when a Verde enterprise hires a low-income person, it shows their neighbors that good green jobs exist and that low-income people can get them. They ask “how can I make a good living protecting the environment?” Other anti-poverty groups ask “how can we connect our cultural communities to sustainability?” This set the stage for collaborative Outreach-Advocacy activities which change environmental policies, empowering low-income people and people of color to drive environmental investments into their neighborhoods in response to community needs. As a result, Verde experienced broad outreach-advocacy success –bringing new institutions and communities into environmental advocacy, adding workforce/contracting diversity requirements into several high profile environmental initiatives, and attracting significant national funding.
2015 through Today
Verde has grown significantly since 2005. Our social enterprise and outreach-advocacy capacities have come together: Advocacy is driving new environmental investments into low-income neighborhoods; outreach is involving residents in the design of these investments; and social enterprises are turning into resource intermediaries, ensuring that new environmental investments put dollars in the pockets of low-income people and create broad, neighborhood-based economic opportunities.