Alumni Impact Story: Morgan Berman ’14, Jefferson’s MS in Sustainable Design Program

Alumni Impact Story: Morgan Berman ’14, Jefferson’s MS in Sustainable Design Program

Snapshot

Morgan Berman is the founder & CEO of MilkCrate, a B-Corporation certified social enterprise that helps corporations, nonprofits and other groups engage and track social  social and environmental impact.

MSSD Thesis Title: MilkCrate Philly Development
Founder & CEO at MilkCrate
http://www.mymilkcrate.com

 

MSSD Background

Why did you come to the MSSD Program?
I started doing some research around programs for sustainable design and developed three criteria: 1) I wanted it to be near Philly and my family. 2) I wanted a program around sustainability, but with a strong design emphasis; I’d always been an artist but never allowed myself to develop that into a professional path. 3) I wanted to avoid going into a lot of debt. So Jefferson [Philadelphia University + Jefferson University] really became the only one on my list. Luckily, I was accepted and awarded the Graduate Assistantship.

What Stood out for you in the Program?
I loved the unique perspective I got from doing the Graduate Assistantship- I got to be Rob Fleming’s right hand lady and go to all the meetings and conferences, so I was exposed to a lot of  new people and companies in the area. I was in an awkward spot starting the program as neither an engineer nor an architect, which is why I wound up almost reinventing the program for myself. I took interactive media and industrial design courses for my electives, and wriggled out of a few requirements. I was able to do that because Jefferson is awesome and my professors were awesome; they signed whatever forms they needed to sign so I could do what I really wanted to do.

How has it helped you achieve your goals?
I’d never in a million years thought I’d be starting an enterprise software company and building a team. But, suddenly, thanks to the flexibility and willingness of my professors, I was learning how to become an entrepreneur. Jefferson has promoted MilkCrate from the beginning, and their pride for me and what we’ve done has been really encouraging. Last year we launched with PhilaU as our first major customer for MilkCrate. Now we are working to get all of Jefferson using it and earning points for our collective impact!

 

Alumni Impact

The following questions are structured around the Integral Framework, which the MSSD Program uses to guide the design process. The framework allows us to explore a topic fully through the lenses of Experience, Culture, Performance, and Systems.

Experience

How have you improved people’s experience of the world around them?
From the beginning, MilkCrate has tried to make it easier for people to see and experience their impact growing over time. We help companies as well as nonprofits and other large groups engage their audience in impact-focused challenges around social and/or environmental behavior change.

 

Cultural/ Equity

What kinds of initiatives have you started to build a culture of sustainability?
By making a community’s social and environmental impact visible, gamified, MilkCrate helps people engage and increase their connection to one another around shared values. And our values are not just about conservation, but about reversing some of the damage that we’ve been doing and creating a healthier, more sustainable world. It’s a resource that helps you go from someone who’s interested or sympathetic to someone who’s actually part of the solution. We are also practicing what we preach in the workplace, from composting to using entirely second-hand furniture in the office.

Metrics

Here are a few numbers we collected that help us measure the impact of Morgan’s design interventions so far.

300% Higher User Engagement than Avg. App

5,300+ Sustainable Actions Tracked in 6 Months

Amplifying the Impact of 5 Types of Organizations: Corporations, Nonprofits, Schools, Local Businesses, Professional Networks

 

Systems and Processes

What innovative technologies or processes have you created to achieve your goal?
Being the “Best” doesn’t just mean most profitable anymore- it means being most attractive to people whose values are shifting towards wanting to have a positive impact on the world. So, by developing a tool that helps organizations identify their impact goals and track & share their progress, we’re becoming part of this movement that’s using business for good across all sectors. For example, a major local media company is using MilkCrate to engage their employees; Glen’s Garden, a DC-based food market, is using it to connect with their customers; Repair the World is using it to engage volunteers, and several universities have used it to connect with students. MilkCrate is still a relatively new solution, and we’re discovering new and exciting applications for it all the time.

Final Thoughts:

I was inspired by another MSSD student before I even enrolled. Fern Gookin used her thesis to launch her own organization, RAIR, and that very much inspired me. I really want to be available in the community and hope that other people are inspired by my story as well. We’re very much looking to connect with and support Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability professionals who are interested in using MilkCrate to amplify their company or organization’s impact. If you want to learn more you can visit our website at www.mymilkcrate.com and sign up for a demo.