Doug Vilsack wishes the Posner Center for International Development existed when he founded Elephant Energy in 2008. The Posner Center is a co-working space and community unlike any other, bringing together organizations with the shared goal of reducing global poverty. It started as an idea to bring together the Denver community who is focused on international development work. One of the first tenants was Elephant Energy, which provides energy in the most underserved areas of Namibia from its headquarters in Denver.
“I wish eight years ago when I started Elephant Energy, that I had something like the Posner Center,” said Doug Vilsack. “Initially it was four or five organizations, just thinking about co-locating to save money and because we liked each other.”
Vilsack is now the Posner Center’s executive director. When the Posner Center opened in 2013, the response was overwhelming with twenty to thirty enterprises in Denver interested in the idea. The Posner Center opened in a 25,000 square-foot shared space in the Curtis Park neighborhood in Denver.
“When we started, there were so many organizations that were working in the same corners of Tanzania or Cambodia,” said Vilsack. “They had no idea there was someone a block away that they could work with or learn from.”
The Posner Center’s Tenants and Members work in nearly one hundred countries across the globe. At the end of 2015, the Posner Center’s growing network had 57 total Tenant organizations and 109 total Member organizations.
In addition to providing a co-working space, the Posner Center provides grants to organizations and companies based in Colorado through its International Collaboration Fund. Two of the organizations benefiting from the Posner Center are AfricAid and Africa School Assistance Project. AfricAid supports girls’ education in Africa and the Africa School Assistance Project works to increase access to quality public education in East Africa. When the Posner Center launched the International Collaboration Fund, they were the perfect fit. The grant allowed the two organizations to travel from Denver to Tanzania to see how they could work together.
“They were the poster child for the collaboration fund,” said Vilsack. “They had never met one another but they literally worked in the same area doing the same thing in Tanzania.”
In 2015, $60,000 in International Collaboration Fund grants supported seven projects from Denver to Tanzania to Cambodia.
“The building is the core and the place that brings everyone together. But we are much more than just a co-working space,” said Vilsack. “We have all kinds of programs and events that bring this network together.”
Total Tenant Organizations
Total Member Organizations
New Members Added in 2015