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Social Justice Entrepreneurship

Running a successful business doesn’t have to mean destroying the environment and exploiting employees. IIE is offering a 4 week workshop on Social Justice Entrepreneurship (SJE) that will teach you how to make a profit while making positive contributions to your community. Apply now to structure your business to meet the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profits. Whether you have an existing product, service, or technology or an idea for one, we’ll work with you to help bring your ideas to life. Sessions are two hours each. Participants who attend all four sessions can compete for cash prizes by presenting your ideas for a just and sustainable business in a final pitchfest.

Congratulations to the SJE PitchFest 2021 Winners

Student/Alumni Winner- Growing Together

Community Member Winner- Soapbox Project

Audience Choice Winner- HarvestUnite 


The SJE pilot program was a success. Thanks again to our sponsors, COB, CNSM, COTA, Communication Studies, Associated Students Inc., and The Foundation for Economic Democracy. We’ll see you next year! 


2021 Meeting Dates:

Thursday, March 18 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Thursday, March 25 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Thursday, April 8 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Thursday, April 15 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Anyone may attend, but non-registered participants cannot compete in the final pitch competition.

  1. Defining SJE

    • During the first online lecture session, Steve Boyer and Dr. Alfredo Carlos will introduce attendees to the concepts of worker ownership, micropreneurship, and economic democracy. The session will identify vulture capitalism and vampire corporations by surveying the anti-SJE practices of some of the worst offenders. Alternative organizational structures will be introduced.

  2. Disrupting SJE

    • During this online workshop session led by Dr. Alfredo Carlos and Steve Boyer, attendees are given an opportunity to create a value proposition for their SJE endeavors. They will also be introduced to the business model canvas to begin mapping a blueprint for their businesses.

  3. Engaging SJE

    • This session uses Zoom breakout rooms to give attendees small group time with local SJE practitioners.

  4. Creating SJE

    • This pitch competition (streamed live to Facebook) is only open to registrants who attended the previous three workshops. Pitches must clearly identify the value proposition and the business model for participants’ SJE endeavors. There will be prizes for both student and community competitors.

Featured SJE Businesses:

Gusto Bread 

Gusto Bread is an organic panadería in Long Beach, California, specializing in pan and pan dulce made with 100% masa madre (natural leaven : sourdough starter). Find freshly made loaves, conchas, long breads, nixtamal, polvorones, horchata, café de olla, yerba mate, as well as delicious pantry goods (sardinas, beans), and so much more.  We take pride in being rustic yet intentional. We’re not classically trained. We are multicultural peoples with a multitude of backgrounds and aspirations. We love putting our heart + soul into our work, in fact this is where you’ll find us. Here being present to each moment in the evolution of Gusto Bread.

gusto bread logo

Long Beach Grocery Cooperative 

Long Beach Grocery Cooperative is a start-up community-owned and operated grocery cooperative that is committed to providing the Long Beach community with affordable, high-quality, wholesome foods and products for healthy living. We are committed to supporting local agriculture, artisans and fair trade, educating our community on benefits of healthy eating, and using sustainable practices. 

Long Beach Grocery Cooperative Logo

Ride On 

Ride On! Bike Shop/Co-Op is  a full service worker owned bike shop directly in the heart of Leimert Park. In addition to repairs and sales, Ride On! advocates for transportation equity, improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure in South-West Los Angeles and teaches bicycle safety classes.

ride on logo

South LA Food Cooperative  

SoLA Food Co-op is forming a viable cooperatively organized business. Our goal is to create a source for natural, organic, non-GMO food in South Los Angeles. As a co-op, we are much more than just another natural foods store—we’re actually owned by our local community. Unlike the national chain stores, we exist to serve you, our owners—not a distant corporate board. Because we’re truly local, owning a piece of your co-op is really about owning a piece of your community.

South La Food Coop Logo

Todo Verde

Todo Verde is a woman of color owned food business inspired by Latin American roots and flavors that provides healthy and delicious plant-based culturally relevant dishes to the East Los Angeles community and beyond. Our team is committed to advancing food equity in our neighborhoods, and are working to create lifestyle shifts in healthy eating and self care through awareness and access to naturally good food. 

Todo Verde logo

The Tree Yoga Cooperative 

The Tree Yoga Cooperative mission is to be a hub of holistic wellness and community support. We believe that true education is the exploration and expression of the intelligence that resides inside everyone. Our focus is to educate and empower through the transformative practice of Yoga as an accessible, effective tool that allows for living in Liberation.

The Tree Yoga Coop Logo


Pitchfest Judges: 

Dr. Marla A. Parker

Marla A. ParkerMarla A. Parker, Ph.d. has nearly 20 years of success in the public and private sectors. She is a valuable asset for small organizations and startups strategizing for launching, growth and pivoting. Her broad areas of expertise include management, social impact, entrepreneurship, innovation, learning and development, diversity and inclusion. In addition, she co-founded the Civic and Social Innovation Group at California State University-Los Angeles, which promotes creative approaches to social change. She earned her graduate degrees in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago with an emphasis in science, technology, engineering and math policy.

Kyle Webb

Kyle WebbKyle is a board member of multiple non-profit, community organizations such as, Bright Prospect (a college access organization based in Pomona that sees young people to and through college, where he serves as the CFO/Treasurer), the San Bernardino Community College District’s Economic Development and Corporate Training Foundation – where he also serves as the Fundraising committee chairman, the Advisory Councils of the Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House, and the University of La Verne’s College of Business and Public Management.  He is the radical expression of community through service, which inspires him to spend much of his time training and motivating employees, and engaging young people such that they may be able to fulfill their wildest dreams.

Dr. Kristine Wright

Dr. Kristine Wright, Ph.D.KRISTINE (TINA) WRIGHT IS AN educator/sociologist, specializing in African American studies, social stratification (race, class, and gender), urban education, media, and popular culture. She received her doctorate in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine in 2005 and is currently a tenured faculty member at Los Angeles Southwest College. She has taught for 20 plus years at all levels of the California public school system: K-12, community colleges, California State University and the University of California.

Dr. Wright is a noted commentator and has been invited to speak at numerous events to discuss hip hop, race, class, gender, media, youth political mobilization, and social justice more broadly. Wright is a board member for Hip Hop Congress, and joint owner of JOLO Investments, LLC. She also currently serves as the Social Policy chair of the Association of Black Sociologists and Administrator of Urban Teachers Network (UTN), a 501(c)3 charity supporting service minded individuals and community organizations working to empower urban communities through hip hop pedagogy, culturally relevant curriculum, media literacy, and community activism/artivism. She recently published her book, 360°: A Blueprint to Black Self-Determination. 360° provides a hip hop centered analysis of society’s racialized history and a blueprint to actualize Black liberation.



Ebony Utley

Dr. Ebony Utley

Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D. is a professorpreneur. As a Professor of Communication Studies at California State University Long Beach, she researches, publishes, and teaches interpersonal communication. Her expertise has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network as well as other national and international radio, print, and online outlets. As an entrepreneur, she curates experiences and develops products for social impact. Her contributions include but are not limited to raising awareness about the dark side of technology, improving romantic relationship communication, supporting women recovering from infidelity, preventing domestic violence, and healing through yoga. Her two worlds collide as the Associate Director for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CSULB. 

Dr. Alfredo Carlos

Dr. Alfredo Carlos

Dr. Alfredo Carlos is a Faculty Member in Political Science and Chicano and Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He is also the Executive Director of the Foundation for Economic Democracy. He is a proud product of California public school systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine where he specialized in the fields of Political Economy, Political theory, and American Racial and Urban Politics. He earned his M.A. in Politic al Science from California State University, Long Beach with a focus in Comparative Politics and International Relations and his B.A. is in History and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2013-14, he was a University of California President's Dissertation Year Fellow as well as a Q. A. Shaw McKean, Jr. Fellow with the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. His articles have appeared in Latin American Perspectives and Ethnicities. He is the co-author of The Latino Question (Pluto, 2018).

Steve Boyer

Steve Boyer

Steve Boyer is an artist, designer, inventor, entrepreneur and educator with over 25 years of experience developing technology and creating content for a wide variety of interactive media including video games, electronic toys, musical instruments and fine art installations. He has served as a software engineer, hardware engineer, designer and producer at top media entertainment companies and has been on the faculty of the leading art, design and technology programs in the US including The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Otis College of Art and Design and The University of California at San Diego. Mr. Boyer earned his Master of Architecture degree at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) commonly recognized as one of the finest architectural design schools in the world. He also served as Director of Research and Development for Interactive Entertainment at Vivendi Games and is the founder of three startups. This balance of academic, corporate and entrepreneurial experience leaves him well-qualified to address a broad variety of problems, synthesizing technical, artistic and business skills.





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