The Evergreen Lodge, founded in 1921, is a destination resort located on the edge of Yosemite National Park. In 2001, Lee Zimmerman and Brian Anderluh, friends from Stanford Business School, along with another friend, Dan Braun, decided to purchase Evergreen Lodge with both profit and social mission goals in mind. Having both business training and social sector experience, the entrepreneurs wanted to create a business that would serve at-risk young adults while delivering high-quality service to visitors and meaningful returns to investors.
Since then, they have delivered on both fronts. Over the years they renovated the aging, small, seasonal property, added many new cabins and amenities, and won accolades and excellent reviews, resulting in double-digit financial returns. They also created a Youth Employment Program in which high-potential young adults from the Bay Area work as paid interns while receiving career and life counseling. The youth employment program is staffed and funded internally, and receives no outside financial support.
Hundreds of young adults have participated in the program over the years, and former participants have noted the positive impact it has since had on their lives and careers.
The program was designed in partnership with Juma Ventures, a Bay-Area-based youth-focused nonprofit where Zimmerman and Anderluh had been one-year MBA Fellows through REDF. The close relationship with Juma Ventures continues to this day – one Evergreen Board seat is always reserved for the CEO of Juma Ventures.