Everyone Has A Story. Here’s Ours.

Groundworks was born from the work that began in Fair Haven in 2005, a neighborhood in New Haven, CT. It sprang from the work that founder, Ken Janke, had begun with neighbors working together to improve the Fair Haven community. He served as a community organizer to address the prohibitions of human flourishing that had severely impacted the area. The desire was to help people dream again, and then begin to steward those dreams toward a better city. At Groundworks, the work of stewarding dreams for social impact unlocks emerging visions that aim to transform society.

After several years, the positive social impact in the area was significant enough for the mayor of New Haven to take notice. Partnering with both the mayor’s office and Slate Ballard, a personal friend, Groundworks opened the first Grove in downtown New Haven with 1000 square feet and three members. They banded together to begin to cultivate the community and ethos that would be needed to broker transformation for an urban renewal movement. 

In the first year, The Grove was named the New Business of the Year, and by the end of year 2, Fast Company named New Haven, and The Grove in particular, one of the top places in the nation to launch a tech company. The Grove was not only the first co-working community in New Haven, it also leveraged the entrepreneurial efforts of start-ups and freelancers to create a spirit of innovation that, to this day, is still felt. The collaborative space created by The Grove has helped grow the business startup culture in that city.

Ken then helped Justin Nygren and Matt Smith launch The Grove Dallas in 2013. The Grove concept in Dallas helped lead the conversation around uniting the social impact community for greater impact in the city through innovation, collaboration and resource sharing. The Grove Dallas served the city of Dallas in helping to stimulate the formation and transformation of the Historic West End into a growing innovation district.

Today we work to nurture a community that works to find solutions to social problems. Our work with Story Lab and Dream Year is a curated process designed to help individuals author their missional story. At Groundworks, we are inspiring mission as a lifestyle while fostering the social mission sector. Our social mission community includes individuals, nonprofits, for-profits, entrepreneurs and individuals working for change.