07 Dec 2017

Communities for Change: Building a System of Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Communities for Change: Building a System of Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Economic success in this country is built on the courage, passion, and persistence of local entrepreneurs who create the small businesses that generate opportunity, jobs, money, and power in our neighborhoods and communities. But systemic bias, poverty, and social and economic isolation make it significantly harder to foster local business ownership in communities of color. The impact is dramatic and devastating—research shows that without these barriers, we’d have 1 million more minority-owned businesses in the United States, and nearly 10 million more jobs.

As we struggle in Seattle to strengthen neighborhoods, build community ownership, and develop diverse leadership, local entrepreneurship is more important than ever.

Seattle Impact Hall and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship are proud to invite you to join Communities for Change, an innovative program created in collaboration with MIT’s Presencing Institute where we will examine the barriers to local business success and search for answers that will accelerate progress and change.

To explore these issues, Communities for Change will apply a local adaptation of u.lab, which is both an innovation platform and a personal leadership program. While our focus will be on social and economic transformation here in Seattle, we’ll connect with seven Impact Halls across the globe that will also be engaging in their own Communities for Change process.

Communities for Change runs from January 29 to March 26 and is limited to 25 participants representing a broad range of disciplines, organizations, backgrounds, and experiences.

If you are interested in being a part of this important journey, email Kristian (kristian@seattleimpacthall.com).


Communities for Change will meet on eight consecutive Monday evenings, beginning on January 29. We are excited to bring together participants who have a direct connection to the issue of inclusive entrepreneurship and neighborhood economic empowerment, including entrepreneurs and small business owners, communities members and neighborhood activists, lenders and investors, and policymakers. And we welcome anyone who brings an open mind and a strong commitment to dig deep within themselves to work across boundaries and complete the program.

Following the initial eight week program, participants will have the opportunity to continue to work together for 10 more weeks to explore the ideas and solutions they have developed.

Tentative – Program structure and timeline – UPDATED AS OF 01/08

Start date: January 29, 2018.
End Date: March 26, 2018.
Location: Seattle Impact Hall, 220 2nd Ave S, 98104 WA, Seattle
When: Monday evenings, from 6.00pm to 8.30pm.

  • 01/29/18: Week 0 – [Online, exact time t.b.d.] Global introduction session about the program.
  • 02/12/18: Week 1 – Introduction session with our group, at Seattle Impact Hall.
  • 02/19/18: Week 2 – Getting a shared understanding of the challenge.
  • 02/26/18: Week 3 – Getting a shared understanding of the challenge (*).
  • 03/05/18: Week 4 – Reflect on and synthesize our personal learnings.
  • 03/12/18: Week 5 – What have we learned about the system?
  • 03/19/18: Week 6 – Start iterations and generate feedback.
  • 03/26/18: Week 7 – Deepen ideas for prototypes.

* Potential field trip, half day maximum.

During the program, we’ll have 2-3 online, 1-hour sessions with programs hosted at other Impact Halls, date & time t.b.d.

Our goals

While our goal is to explore solutions to the barriers that limit opportunities for entrepreneurs in underrepresented communities, we take nothing for granted and begin without predetermined outcomes. Our commitment is to learn from each other, identify what works and what stands in our way, and work together to move forward with purpose and compassion. After the initial eight week program, participants will be invited to keep working on the answers identified in the first phase.


Application deadline – January 22, 2018

We ask you to submit your application to join Communities for Change by January 22, 2018, via email to kristian@seattleimpacthall.com.

Organizing team

  • Rod Huntress, Communications Consultant and Mediator
  • Susie Philipsen, Senior Public Relations Specialist, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
  • Mike Skinner, Executive Director, Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship
  • June Wilson, Executive Director, Quixote Foundation
  • Susan Mason, Executive Director, What’s Next Washington
  • Steve Johnson and Kristian Bolk, Seattle Impact Hall


Click here for a short presentation with more information about the program.

Communities four Change is a social lab, a facilitated process created specifically to provide a framework for working on complex, interrelated, and systemic challenges.

Interested organizing your own social lab around an issue? Let us know: kristian@seattleimpacthall.com.

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