From Rooster Magazine’s COLORADO’S YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS Issue:
We often hear music is the perfect vessel for doing good. Nothing could be closer to that mark than Conscious Alliance, a Boulder-based national nonprofit organization. It’s committed to supporting communities in crisis through hunger relief and youth empowerment initiatives that are organized at concerts and music events. Led by a young and enthusiastic executive director, Justin Levy, Conscious Alliance operates through ongoing grassroots food collection and hunger awareness programs. The donations then benefit local food pantries nationwide and at economically isolated Native American reservations. For Levy, it’s more than just music and charitable giving. He hopes to break the cycle of poverty by creating opportunity and inspiration for the younger generation.
What have you learned about yourself while running your business?
That I have a lot to learn, and that I must be patient yet persistent.
How do you keep up with the changing business landscape?
By creating the space for others’ input, ideas and innovation.
Where do you see your industry going in the future?
More strategic partnerships between organizations and companies.
How do you measure success?
We measure success in a number of ways: number of meals distributed annually; how well we sustain our current youth programs and our ability to enhance and grow our youth programs; our staff retention and overall staff well-being. Our goal is to always be increasing the amount of money spent on projects while keeping our overhead below 20 percent. Right now, the organization is operating with an overhead of 13.5 percent.
What’s the biggest myth in business?
That non-profits are 100 percent volunteer based with no business expenses. Non-profits are a business and, very much like a for-profit company, we have fixed monthly expenses and overhead. Although non-profit organizations are not selling a produce, they are providing an incredibly valuable service to the community. To provide a service, it takes funding and time. We look to individuals, foundations and companies to invest their time and financial commitments to make our work possible.
What was the toughest part about your first year in business?
The toughest part about my first year as executive director was learning the ins and outs of the organization’s financials while keeping up with the organization’s programming and staff management and somehow still making time for my personal life and overall well being.
Favorite business book:
Living an Extraordinary Life” by Robert White.
Favorite part about running your own business:
I truly enjoy getting to work with such a talented and inspiring group of individuals while working to make a difference in the life of others.
Best advice you’ve received:
Continue to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Best advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs:
Believe in yourself and your team.
Do you have any mentors?
Ray Piagentini, my high school guidance counselor, who truly believed in me as a leader and helped my develop my leadership skills. Lance Gentry, former president of Justin’s (Nut Butter) and Conscious Alliance board member. Lance was fearless in business while having a heart like no one else. He was truly fearless and radical, and because of that he created extraordinary results for himself and others. He passed away in 2012.
Other Recent Blog Posts
Dear Friends, I write today grateful for the progress we have made and humbled by the road that is ahead of us. I am proud of our bold actions to nourish people in need and empower youth. Yet, our work isn’t done; 1 in 8 individuals in the US face hunger, including 13.1 million children! […]READ MORE »
Marisa is called to pursue art that benefits the world and she has generously created six posters for Conscious Alliance, as well as our 2016 holiday card. “My primary motivation as a human and an artist is to be of benefit in some way in the world. Art can certainly be a form of service, […]READ MORE »
We kicked off 2017 with couple trips up to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In January our staff and a volunteer delivered pallets of food from our natural food sponsors to supply the ongoing ‘Bring Nutrition Home’ Backpack Program at Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman Elementary School). This program provides every student with a bag full of […]READ MORE »
Please join us June 29th for an intimate evening as founding member and keyboardist Joel Cummins of Umphrey's McGee will perform at Arcana Restaurant in Boulder Colorado to help provide meals to communities in need nationwide! Tickets go on sale now!READ MORE »
Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Check out this Conscious Alliance staff-picked guide for unique and creative presents for everyone on your list! The artists and organizations featured in this guide are the driving force behind what we do and we are incredibly proud to have such dedicated and inspiring supporters! Stronghold Society – Live Life Hoodie Proceeds […]READ MORE »