Clif Bar Energizes Bard College MBA Program in Sustainability

Clifbarlogo3Here’s a tasty, healthy and sustainable combination for serious students of sustainability: the Clif Bar Family Foundation has invested $100,000 in Bard College’s new MBA in Sustainability.

It’s the foundation’s first “program related investment” (PRI) in this area—and there are only a handful of such programs that integrate sustainability into a graduate business curriculum.

It’s not a direct grant: the money comes in the form of a low-interest loan to Bard. According to the college, this type of investment is “used by a small number of progressive philanthropic foundations to allow them to maximize the value of their portfolios.”

The foundation was founded in 2006 by Clif Bar & Company co-owners and co-CEOs Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford. It supports small and mid-sized organizations working to strengthen the food system and communities, enhance public health, and safeguard the environment and natural resources.

In Bard’s case the PRI will help the college through the two-year MBA program’s initial startup phase. And in the future, the Clif Bar Family Foundation will be able to use the loan repayments to either re-grant or re-loan the $100,000 to other organization.

So it’s a unique and sustainably apt financing approach. “As an MBA focused on building a sustainable future, PRI start-up financing provides a great lesson for our students, says Bard MBA Director Eban Goodstein.  “They are learning to scale profitable solutions to environmental and social problems. That means investing wisely today, positioning a company for future financial stability.”

And the foundation also chimed in: “Bard’s MBA model of integrated sustainability mirrors Clif Bar & Company’s five bottom lines, which include sustaining its business, its brands, its people, the planet, and the community,” says Thao Pham, executive director of the Clif Bar Family Foundation.

It’s sustainably good business for sustainability.


Bard’s MBA in sustainability program is low-residency, with classes meeting in person once a month from Friday morning until Monday afternoon, with online classes each week in the evenings. The college is conducting a webinar for prospective students interested in the graduate sustainability program on Feb. 28

[Image: Clif Bar & Company logo]

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