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Exceeding the Standard

The GREEN Program’s Best for PHL Story

By Guest Contributer, Cynthia Estremera

When Melissa Lee started her company 8 years ago, she ran it on intuition alone. She had never taken a business course and her decisions were her own. While she has experienced tremendous growth, she says that coaching and mentorship are most important to her. Her company is slated to grow and she is interested in diversifying her employee base, offering benefits that increase employee well-being, and growing a scholarship fund for disadvantaged and underserved students.

Melissa took the Best for PHL challenge in May 2017 and her initial Impact Improvement Goal was to increase the level of healthcare offered to employees. She worked with a broker and was comfortable with paying for 50% of the benefits for her full-time and part-time employees. However, once she took the challenge, she began to wrestle with the idea that she could do better.

“I asked which benefits plan was standard, and then offered my team the level above it. But when I took the Best for PHL assessment, it mentioned that we should strive for 80% coverage so I knew that I needed to do better!”

As a young company, The GREEN Program employees, including Melissa herself, did not need to enroll in their own health insurance plan until recently, so this was a new practice. This shows that each company has different goals and their pathways to get to those goals will look different. Melissa realized that 80% of the insurance coverage is something that TGP can grow towards, but in the meantime, she decided to go with another goal of providing a 401K program for her 7 employees. “Setting a strong baseline to improve my team’s well-being was the first step. Increasing coverage and implementing 401k matching is something I look forward to putting in place.” She’s constantly a step ahead by accomplishing a goal and immediately setting her next one.

In addition to providing her employees with a 401K, TGP’s Director of Business Development & Strategy, Brady Halligan, has recently launched a scholarship program that provides opportunities for low-income and underrepresented students to embark on The GREEN Program. The program has such a high reputation with alumni being hired by some of the best companies in the world and they believe this is a prime opportunity to increase the diverse representation of students in STEM education and workforce development. For every TGP alum hired, one disadvantaged or underserved student is given the opportunity to study abroad with TGP and become a part of their alumni community. The GREEN Program also provides workforce development for their alumni to be matched with employers through this program and is currently seeking new partnerships with progressive companies who want globally educated, technically trained, and sustainably-minded talent.

Melissa and her team are also providing mental health first aid training, an 8-hour certification course for higher ed professionals and students to become properly trained as mental health first responders. The free training that she opened to the Greater Philadelphia community sold out within a day and has a waiting list of 100 people. The demand for resources around the issue of mental health became so prominent that The GREEN Program has decided to host more trainings for the community. She has pushed industry HR professionals to think critically about how companies are supporting employees in this capacity. She says that businesses need to address mental health, and all her employees and global team will be certified in Mental Health First Aid by April 2018. She’s hoping they her team and students can learn mindfulness practices, increase the prioritization of mental health, and encourage healthier work environments and campuses. “They are the leaders who will change the world, so we have to take care of them,” Melissa says of her students.
Lastly, as The GREEN Program is growing this year, Melissa is hiring and strives is to increase employee representation from diverse communities.
The GREEN Program is Best for PHL.


The Best for PHL Challenge encourages, supports, and recognizes companies in the Philadelphia region that commit themselves to creating positive impact. Best for PHL assists these businesses as they identify how they may be able to help address regional, social, and/or environmental problems. Best for PHL is an ImpactPHL initiative; SBN is a lead partner.

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