In 2009 Jeremy and Krista Carroll were living a pretty good life in New York City with few worries or cares.
Sure, there were the daily stresses of most American middle-class existences, but for the most part, the Carrolls were living the good life. Fast forward to today and the Carrolls are still living the good life – though in Minneapolis now – yet according to Jeremy Carroll, not only are they living the good life, they are working to help others to simply be able to live a life at all. In doing so, the Carrolls, along with business partner, Joey Perry, have built a rapidly expanding business based on the principle of giving – giving to the tune of half the company's net profits.
"My family owned a printing company and after 56 years they decided to close the business," explained Jeremy Carroll. "I loved the way they treated their customers, treated their staff and treated their community, so after they sold it, I was looking for something to replace that, so I decided to take a trip to Haiti. It was there in Haiti that I experienced extreme poverty for the first time."
Jeremy Carroll said up until that time, he had very little understanding of what it meant to live an impoverished existence. The awakening was shocking.
"You can see pictures of poverty and you can mentally kind of put them away, but when you see it firsthand, it truly affects your life," said Jeremy Carroll. "You can feel it. You can feel the heat; you can smell the environment. You can touch the kids and you can walk with them and you can realize that kids are kids anywhere. For me, I wanted to give those kids the opportunity that my kids have. At that moment, I just knew that building a business to give 50 percent of the profits would be the future."
Upon Jeremy Carroll's return, he, his wife and Perry started Latitude (www.latitudeelevates.com) a creative design and marketing firm that operates out of Minneapolis and New York. Founded in 2009, Latitude has already amassed an impressive list of clients that includes Adidas, 10 Cane Rum, Champs Sports, Ann Taylor, Converse, New Balance, Captain Morgan Rum, Foot Locker, Chobani Yogurt and others. And with those impressive clients comes some impressive paychecks. Once all expenses are paid, half of what's left over goes directly to efforts to fight extreme poverty. Charities in Haiti, Liberia, Mozambique, India, Tajikistan, the Congo, Mongolia, Honduras and Afghanistan have benefited from Latitude's giving at the tune of $726,000 this past year.
"We started with a goal to give a total of $1 million by our fifth year in operation," said Jeremy Carroll. "Our first year we gave $50,000, our second year we gave $240,000 and our third year we gave $500,000."
Total, Latitude has easily eclipsed its initial goal and given more than $1.5 million.
"Now we have a goal to give $1 million this year," said Jeremy Carroll.
According to the company's annual report, in 2013 alone, the money given by Latitude has helped provide a year's worth of meals for nearly 800 children, rescued 125 people from slavery, provided 3.27 million gallons of clean drinking water, educated 1,241 children and provided medical equipment for three medical clinics serving nearly 55,500 people.
"Honestly, I don't think giving 50 percent is enough," said Jeremy Carroll. "I'd love to give more. I'd love to be able to give 100 percent."
In addition to Latitude's giving, the company is encouraging its clients and employees to give as well. The company is even hosting what it calls Insight Trips to Haiti and Nicaragua to see first-hand the impact giving has on these extremely impoverished regions.
"We went to Cite' Soleil in Haiti – that's the poorest slum in Haiti; so poor it's considered fourth world – and there are 300,000 people in three square miles. It's a different ballgame down there," said Josh Witham, a graphic designer who has been with Latitude from nearly the beginning. "It's incredible the level of poverty. It breaks you open, yet in the middle of all that, you see these kids with such joy and such smiles and it really gives you hope."