Business With Purpose Scholarship: Why Purpose?
When Clif Bar’s founder Gary Erickson graduated from college, he didn’t set out to create a successful food company. In fact, he couldn’t have known what adventures in business lay ahead, and may not have discovered them, if it weren’t for his decision to follow his passions for great food and big adventures.
As a young adult, Gary made bike seats. He trekked through Yosemite. He played the trumpet. He baked and sold his Greek grandmother’s family recipes. And while his parents worried and his peers landed the next promotion, Gary trusted that he was on a path to greater purpose.
Then in 1990, at age 33, Gary had an epiphany. While on a 175-mile bike ride, he realized he could create a better bar. The rest, as they say, is our history.
Gary’s wife and Clif Bar’s co-owner Kit Crawford will tell you she’s an ‘accidental CEO’ but her path to purpose was also no accident. In her twenties she studied art, dance and improv. She taught sign language and raised young children. She volunteered at every opportunity. And these experiences led her to think differently about enriching people and communities. They inspired her design of Clif Bar’s 5 Aspirations business model – a model that would go on to make us an industry leader in culture and corporate values.
As Clif Bar grew to be a thriving company, Gary and Kit, turned down the classic entrepreneur’s dream: a $120 million buyout. Their path to purpose had taught them to think creatively and to improvise. It told them they could do more good with the company, than with money in their pockets. And spoiler alert: They were right.
WHY A POST-GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP?
Gary and Kit believe their early experiences, exploring purpose through art, education, food and adventure, have given them a unique creativity and passion in their role as mission-driven business leaders.
After polling young people, they learned that 68% are likely to take an unfulfilling job to pay off debts, and the #1 source of debt is student loans.
With the launch of Clif Bar’s Business with Purpose Scholarship, Gary and Kit hope to create space for tomorrow’s business leaders to pursue their purpose today and inspire them to take those skills and lessons forward into purpose driven business careers.
- Listen to Gary speak about the journey of Clif Bar: NPR- Clif Bar Started With A Hungry Cyclist And A Mom Who Liked To Bake
- Learn more about how we live our Five Aspirations
- Learn More about the Business With Purpose Scholarship
Gary and I knew we had to do something when we learned today’s college graduates feel so burdened by debt that they can’t justify exploring meaningful experiences that could lead them to a career with purpose. - Kit Crawford