Coalition of Black Excellence

Fall-Winter 2020
Project Type
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Organizational Development
Organization Type
Community or Economic Development,


Founded in 2018, the Coalition of Black Excellence (CBE) is an all-volunteer run nonprofit organization whose mission is to unify and elevate the Black community. CBE activates its vision with multi-sector panel discussions each month culminating with CBE Week in February. The week focuses on bridging gaps in the Black community by bringing together Black business owners, Black professionals, and nonprofits dedicated to the Black community. It provides hundreds of professionals with opportunities to speak to recruiters about career mobility and VCs about funding for startups. It also offers corporate supplier diversity leads to Black businesses, provides advice about how to win corporate supplier contracts, and grants funds to nonprofits that support the Black community. To date, CBE has served over 4,000 participants and its marquee partnership events, CBE Summit and Code Black Gala, have drawn 1,200 attendees. In 2020, it raised $450,000 from 20 sponsors.


Under the dedicated and strong leadership of several Bay Area professionals, and with the support of many other community leaders and volunteers, CBE has expanded its impact in three short years. It has raised over $1M in funding from 60+ corporate sponsors including Uber, Google, Facebook, AppDynamics, PayPal, Amgen, and HP. Its mission resonates now more than ever with the corporate world which recognizes the imperative to improve racial justice. COVID-19 has caused CBE to pivot to virtual programming which in the long terms offers access to far more participants. CBE wants to move forward with developing year-round programming in the Bay Area and then expand nationally. In order to do so, CBE needs to improve its capacity building and transition from a volunteer, event focused nonprofit to one with a more strategic long-term approach to fundraising and growth.

Project Objectives

The Coalition of Black Excellence asked the ACT team to help develop a sustainable business model and a roadmap to a sustainable nonprofit organization model.

Project Overview

The ACT team needed to assess where CBE was currently to understand what CBE aspired to be and design a pathway to a sustainable organizational model. The project consisted of three phases: Performing Market Analysis and Documenting the CBE Vision for the Future; Developing a Plan for a Sustainable Organization; Developing a Business Model and a Transition Plan to a Sustainable Organization/Operation.

Key Recommendations

CBE should place priority emphasis on these tasks:

  • Build a strong Board of Directors with at least 40% of directors being outside directors (Year 1)
  • Produce an Annual Report for CBE and provide the report to sponsors, donors and volunteers (Year 1)
  • Provide job descriptions for key staffing positions which have been prioritized. Review the job descriptions with individuals serving in those roles and establish complete buy-in and level of commitment (Year 1)
  • Document and publish the Core Values of the Coalition of Black Excellence and distribute written code of conduct to volunteers. (Year 1)
  • Conduct a retreat and training session for the Board of Advisors, Directors and key volunteers to establish alignment and understanding of the aspirational organization and the transition plan to a sustainable organization (Year 1)
  • CBE executives should prioritize obtaining a “capacity building grant” to enable CBE to recruit and hire key staff.
  • CBE executives must finalize a timeline for completing all critical tasks on the transition plan for becoming its aspirational sustainable organization.

Key Conclusions

The Coalition of Black Excellence has an attractive and powerful vision and purpose.

CBE selected event activities must be data-driven and reflect alignment with the organization’s core values.

CBE’s leaders must become more effective at communicating:

  • the organization’s progress to sponsor/funders (feedback on sponsor ROI),
  • the organization’s vision and operating plans to their volunteer workforce and communities served,
  • and the organization’s core values to all parties (funders, volunteers, and participants.

Final Report Outline

  • Review of the CBE Project Plan
    • The CBE Ask of ACT
    • Project Requirements
    • First Steps
  • Research – Understanding Where CBE is Starting From
    • Findings/Analysis/Recommendations
  • Defining the CBE Aspirational & Sustainable Organization
    • Pathway to Sustainability
    • Business Strategy House
    • CBE Aspirational Organization Structure
    • CBE Business Plan Canvas
  • Challenges to Sustainability and ACT Recommendations