Gerald Driggs is the founder and managing partner of Ground Floor Solutions, a Pittsburgh-based firm specializing in creating, implementing, and sustaining social enterprise ventures. He brings this skill set to Food21 as a senior advisor assisting the organization to convert innovative ideas into financially sustainable initiatives with maximum social impact.
He is an experienced social entrepreneur with more than forty years of success implementing innovative and sustainable ventures and social enterprises with local, statewide, regional, and national impact. He has worked with more than 100 nonprofit organizations with ventures ranging from high-tech application development companies to community development corporations, to social innovation accelerators, dozens of social service agencies and a variety of public/private partnerships. He has extensive management experience building collaborative efforts serving both the public and private sectors.
Over four decades, he and his business partners have pioneered a diverse portfolio of ventures and initiatives. They broke ground with a company called The NetWorks. It was an online information service bureau (pre-Internet and pre PCs) that created a variety of services including (1) an international petroleum spot pricing service and weekly magazine for the petroleum industry (PetroSpot News); (2) a rate tracking service and mortgage matching service for home buyers and Realtors (Mortgage Match); (3) the first online legislative and regulatory tracking service in Pennsylvania (PA DataQuick); and (4) a computer service bureau for state and national associations.
Next, he led the team that created the first automated claims service that enabled the PA Department of Education to generate Medicaid reimbursements (PDE ACCESS) for medically necessary services provided by local school districts (LEAs) to special education students. It was replicated nationally and has generated in excess of $3.5 billion in reimbursements for school districts serving more than 5 million children with special needs since its inception.
His groundbreaking company called the Corporation for Standards & Outcomes partnered with the Pressley Ridge Foundation, a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization, to produce the country’s first online outcome management system for social service agencies. The model was a social enterprise success. So much so that it was purchased by a large managed care behavioral health organization generating a significant financial return ($3 return for $1invested) for the Pressley Ridge Foundation as well as setting national outcome management precedents.
His next venture was a partnership with Droz & Associates which created the Institute for Marketing Accountability. They worked with Symbol Technologies to introduce Symbol’s hand-held scanning technology into a viable in-store tool for grocery store customers to shop and purchase items based on their loyalty program preferences. This innovation led to the current systems being used in Giant Eagle and other major grocery chains.
Gerald also directed the Pittsburgh-based Social Innovation Accelerator, a social impact firm with a portfolio of 40 nonprofit social enterprise ventures. Each venture was managed to maximize social impact, create and implement strategies for growth, and to leverage existing assets. Ground Floor Solutions was later formed to provide more in-depth support for a wide range of start-up ventures that included (1) eco-fashion manufacturing; (2) combustion technology to turn waste plastic into clean fuel; (3) aquaponics and solar-powered lights for developing countries; (4) a community-based music venue called The Bridge Music Hall; and (5) an online expert knowledge system to turn NPO's intangible intellectual assets into tangible revenue-producing services.
Currently, Gerald has three priorities. They include (1) The redevelopment and repurposing of blighted properties in river towns in Allegheny County: (2) the use of wireless broadband to serve under-resourced communities; and (3) several Food21 projects. He’s lived in Pittsburgh for 25 years where he and his wife Deborah raised their two children and are now proud first-time grandparents.