Colorado Innovation Ecosystem Builder – Contract Position

About Gary Community Investments:
Gary Community Investments, which includes The Piton Foundation, invests in for-profit and philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families. We believe that business and philanthropy can—and should—work together to create opportunities for those who need it most. Gary Community Investments (GCI) is committed to investing in quality early childhood and youth development systems, expanding sustainable economic opportunities, and developing and supporting programs that create healthy family and community environments.
 
About the Colorado innovation ecosystem for young children:
Gary Community Investments asked: “How might we make Colorado the best place to launch and grow a child-focused venture?” After initial exploration and design, GCI is funding a first-of-its-kind innovation ecosystem for young children. Inspired by successful ecosystems across the country and around the world that support startups and sectors, this ecosystem will catalyze existing actors across Colorado to advance the potentially transformative work of for-profit and nonprofit ventures so that they land, expand and thrive in Colorado. By drawing on Colorado’s strengths in early childhood, its startup culture, access to capital, and strong university capacity for innovation, this ecosystem has the potential to generate breakthrough solutions to early childhood’s biggest challenges and support ventures to create impact for our state’s young children. 
 
This effort is part of GCI’s commitment to catalyzing early childhood innovation, which was launched in early 2017. Our goals are to: accelerate the sourcing and testing new ideas, spark innovation and support scaling, and spur investment and private sector engagement in solutions that achieve greater impact. Through this work, which included launching the Early Childhood Innovation Prize, GCI has created a pipeline of investment opportunities that includes early-stage ventures, entrepreneurs looking to expand their work in Colorado, and ventures already operating locally. The ecosystem initiative will organize and connect diverse actors in Colorado around early childhood’s key challenges to accelerate the pace of change, foster scaling and greater impact for all children, including those who are from low-income families. 
 
In the near-term, GCI is developing a vision for this innovation ecosystem alongside partners who are essential to its success, and we will focus our efforts on catalyzing the ecosystem to support young children by providing funding, serving as a convener and connector and stewarding the vision during its formative stages.  
 
Position Summary:
We are seeking an energetic, dynamic builder and connector to help Colorado launch an innovation ecosystem focused on accelerating solutions that support young children’s healthy development.  The Innovation Ecosystem Builder position will be a contract/consultant position with GCI, not a full time employment position.  The initial contract term will be 15 months.  The Innovation Ecosystem Builder will be responsible for developing and implementing the strategy to catalyze partners from across the Colorado early childhood, start up, venture, university, and investor landscape and seeding a set of strategies to design, develop and foster an ecosystem aimed at supporting innovation for children. Similar to the components of other efforts to support technology start-ups and health care innovation, the Innovation Ecosystem Builder will leverage talent and expertise in Colorado to improve outcomes for young children, particularly children from low-income families.

Responsibilities:
The Ecosystem Builder has five responsibilities, including: (1) Executing on initial ecosystem design elements while fostering co-design and development of the ecosystem among stakeholders,  (2) activating a diverse network of partners and stakeholders that create value, (3) acting as a champion and main point of contact for the ecosystem, (4) assessing impact of ecosystem activities, (5) holding himself/herself accountable for meeting impact goals.   

1. Ecosystem Design, Development & Implementation 
The initial ecosystem design draws from Brad Feld’s startup ecosystem approach with a focus on children.  Borrowing from that approach, the role of the Ecosystem Builder is to find the “doers” and help them get activated to support early and growth stage companies and nonprofit entrepreneurs that have the potential to improve outcomes for young children. A number of strategies and initial partners have been selected for 2019 and the Ecosystem Builder will be expected to support those initial strategies while also continuing to co-design those and additional elements with partners, test strategies, assess growth and development and pivot quickly when needed. 

2. Partnership Building & Collaboration 
This role will catalyze the strong assets that are already in place in Colorado, including early childhood organizations and leaders, investors, connectors, mentors, and early adopters in ways that will attract and support ventures focused on children. This will include leveraging connections and networks, conducting outreach, fostering a give-and-get culture, and activating a range of innovation players, investors, potential pilots, universities and experts. 

3. Champion the Ecosystem
To achieve success, the Ecosystem Builder will need to act as a relentless champion by constantly inspiring people to engage, making connections, acting as the main point of contact for the ecosystem and assessing who’s engaged and who’s being left out. 
 
4.  Accelerate Impact
At the heart of this initiative is a platform that makes things happen that couldn’t have happened without the magic of bringing talented people together. While there is a range of success metrics already developed for the initiative, the ultimate test will be whether the ventures (both nonprofits and for-profits) make a difference for children. The Ecosystem Builder will be expected to embrace impact measurement at a variety of levels and execute against metrics. 
 
5. Team Collaboration & Reporting  
This position will lead but also participate as part of a team. The goal is not to build an organization but to catalyze existing talent and resources. This position and the ecosystem are housed within Gary Community Investments but will have its own identity and brand. The position will coordinate with and collaborate across the School Readiness, Communications and Impact teams within GCI and regularly report to GCI leadership and Board of Directors.  
 
Qualifications
  • A persistent collaborator with an unquenchable passion to make things happen
  • Demonstrated experience playing a connector or initiative developer role
  • Possesses sound understanding of what it takes to make a nonprofit or a startup or early stage company successful
  • Extensive relevant leadership experience that can be drawn upon in working across a mix of sectors (e.g. non-profits, for-profits, investors, government, universities, etc)
  • Ability to ramp up quickly in understanding key attributes of different players and how their expertise could be shared to augment the success of the ecosystem 
  • Existing network of contacts in the start-up, technology and/or education sectors 
  • Prior experience in facilitation, partnership development, and working with diverse constituencies
  • Ability and experience managing multiple components of projects at once
  • Relentlessly positive approach to the work
  • Experience and passion for early childhood development or a related field (e.g. child health, education, poverty) a plus
  • Familiarity and experience with Colorado stakeholders in education, health, philanthropy, and/or civic leadership is a plus
  • 5+ years experience in venture-related role/s such as starting a company or nonprofit, working with an accelerator or incubator, management consulting/ investment experience, or initiative experience  
 
Compensation:
Compensation competitive based on experience. This is a paid, consulting contract for a 15-month term located in Denver, Colorado. Longer-term position potential after the initial period.

Application Deadline:
Please apply by Monday, March 25, 2019. 
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