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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Social Entrepreneurship

This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.

Lassonde Institute Releases Annual Report For 2016-17

Report shows significant growth and achievements after institute opens Lassonde Studios, a $45-million student innovation center at the University of Utah

Press Release – Sept. 12, 2017 – The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, released its annual report for 2016-17. It shows significant growth and achievements after opening the much anticipated Lassonde Studios building, a $45-million, 160,000-square-feet student innovation center where all students are welcome to “live, create and launch.”

Highlights for the year include top rankings for entrepreneurship education, praise from international news sources, 329 student startup teams formed, 7,800 college students participating, $663,000 in scholarships awarded, $369,000 in cash prizes awarded, 236 students trained on prototyping equipment and 32,000 feet of 3-D printer filament used. Read the full report for more information.

“We built Lassonde Studios to create a unique space that would engage more students in our already impressive entrepreneur program, and the data in our annual report shows the impact of the building,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Institute and an assistant dean at the Eccles School. “We reached many of our goals this year, and we look forward to building on our momentum.”

The Lassonde Institute announced plans for Lassonde Studios in 2014 with the goal of becoming the best place in the country for student entrepreneurs. The building combines a 20,000-square-feet innovation space for all students on the first floor with four upper floors of residential space.

Construction on Lassonde Studios concluded in summer 2016, and students moved into the building in August 2016. The first 400 residents at Lassonde Studios ranged from freshmen to Ph.D. students, representing 44 different areas of study.

During construction and after, Lassonde Studios received worldwide attention for its unique design and purpose.

The New York Times called it a high-tech building in the hopes of “evoking big, high-tech thinking.” Architectural Digest named Lassonde Studios one of the “nine best new university buildings around the world.” Fast Company featured the building, reporting: “No, this is not one of Silicon Valley’s many office spaces cum playground; it’s Lassonde Studios, a $45 million experiment in education.”

“Lassonde Studios was designed to be a one-of-a-kind community of student entrepreneurs and creators,” said Taylor Randall, dean of the Eccles School. “I think the results from the first year show that we have exceeded our expectations for the building. Lassonde Studios has helped grow and energize our community in more ways that we expected.”

Major donors for Lassonde Studios include Pierre Lassonde and the Lassonde Family Foundation, David Neeleman, the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation and Zions Bank. Partners include University of Utah Housing & Residential Education, Cannon Design, EDA Architects, Arup and Gramoll Construction.

Students involved in the many programs offered by the Lassonde Institute at Lassonde Studios said the experience transformed their time on campus. Beyond helping them start companies, the experience helped them learn valuable lessons that will be useful in whatever they do in the future.

Jared Pieper is one of many students who was involved during the 2016-17 year. While pursuing graduate degrees in engineering and business, he managed a grant program offered by the Lassonde Institute. In part because of his experience at the Lassonde Institute, Pieper was able to secure a job as a project engineer at Tesla.

“Like many others, I was scared to be an entrepreneur,” Pieper said. “I just couldn’t get past the thought of letting my excitement push me into a risky venture where I lose it all. Lassonde has helped me overcome these reservations by teaching me how to de-risk new ventures without spending all my savings. Being able to pivot early and cheap by answering the right questions brings a confidence that enables us to succeed.”

Arielle Hassett is another student who was involved with Lassonde Institute programs during the 2016-17 year. She participated in a business plan competition and worked on a medical startup.

“Lassonde has helped me develop as a leader and entrepreneur by creating a welcoming environment filled with opportunities to learn, grow and succeed,” Hassett said.

Read the full Lassonde Institute 2017 annual report here. Learn more about Lassonde Studios at lassonde.utah.edu/studios. Find more stories about students who have lived and worked at Lassonde Studios at lassonde.utah.edu/launched. Photos and other resources to use with this news can be found at lassonde.utah.edu/about-us/media-resources.

About the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute

The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The first programs were offered in 2001, through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, an alumnus of the Eccles School and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include workshops, networking events, business-plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, graduate seminars, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Institute also manages the Lassonde Studios, a new $45 million innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.


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Upstart Co-Lab Founder & Impact Investing Expert Laura Callanan To Lead Designer Track At Denver Startup Week

Press Release – Sep. 12, 2017 – Denver – Laura Callanan of Upstart Co-Lab will be keynote speaker of the Denver Startup Week Designer Track, co-chaired by Brian Corrigan and Castle Searcy. Callanan will deliver a talk titled “Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Artists as Innovators in Business, Government & Society” on Monday, Sep. 25, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. at Larimer Social, 1427 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80202.

Callanan is an impact investing expert and Founding Partner of Upstart Co-Lab, a New York-based non-profit connecting artists, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs to create opportunities for artist-innovators to deliver social impact at scale. Those registered for the Designer Track can hear her speak about opportunities for creatives across media and professions in her keynote address.

Callanan — formerly Senior Deputy Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and a consultant with McKinsey & Company — will bring her social innovation expertise to Startup Week as she discusses solutions for Denver’s creatives and Upstart Co-Lab’s campaign promoting Artists as Innovators.

“I could not be more excited to return to Denver — a city that understands that creativity drives business and community — to talk about how artists are innovators in business, government, and the social sector,” said Callanan. “Upstart Co-Lab is launching an Artist Innovator campaign and I can think of no better time to get it started than during Denver Startup Week.”

In addition to being the Designer Track keynote speaker, Callanan will moderate the panel “Impact Investing Through a Creativity Lens,” which features speakers Corey Vernon of Radicle Impact, Alice Loy of Creative Startups and Anne Misak of the Colorado Enterprise Fund, on Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. at the Herman Miller Workplace Resource located in Downtown Denver. This panel covers how to incubate and grow a creative startup; investing for financial return and social good; and why now is the time to bring capital that values inclusion, equity, and sustainability to this fast-growing segment of the economy.

Callanan’s research through Upstart Co-Lab, co-authored with Calvert Foundation in their “Creative Places & Businesses” report, concludes that the Creative Economy in the U.S. makes up more than $704 billion or 4.2% of U.S. GDP, yet 0% of impact investment is in the arts & culture sector. On a local level, the Colorado Business Committee for the Art’s biennial report estimates that metro Denver’s creative sector contributes $1.8 billion in local economic activity and provides over 10,000 jobs. Despite robust growth and economic stimulation, Denver-area creatives struggle with finding affordable living arrangements, suitable work spaces, and funding.

This year’s Denver Startup Week Designer Track addresses these challenges by focusing on the artist as entrepreneur, providing tools, insights, and resources for creatives to understand the types of capital available to them, advocate for themselves, navigate business relationships, secure funding, and achieve sustainable business growth. Sessions will cover topics such as legal considerations for creative businesses, the unique qualities creatives possess to problem-solve across sectors, how to predict cash flow, and the specific resources available to entrepreneurs in the creative economy.

“This year’s programming reflects the next chapter in how we invest in and support entrepreneurs in the creative economy,” said Brian Corrigan, Denver Startup Week Designer Track Co-Chair. “Our intention is to provide artists, designers, and cultural producers with the resources that our friends in tech have been afforded for some time.”

The Track’s speakers include leaders from entrepreneur accelerator Creative Startups, immersive art space Meow Wolf, Bay Area impact investment firm Radicle Impact, and legal firm Moye White, along with a host of local experts in fields including business development, design, and communications.

For more Denver Startup Week Designer Track schedule information and to register, visit denverstartupweek.org.


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Four New Issuers Join ImpactUs Marketplace

ImpactUs welcomes four new issuers to the fintech platform dedicated to impact investing

Press Release – Washington, D.C., September 13, 2017——Financial technology provider ImpactUs today announced the onboarding of four additional issuers to its impact investing platform, ImpactUs Marketplace. The Marketplace is a community-driven full-service platform offering institutions, individuals and financial advisors an extensive range of private impact investing opportunities.

The four issuers* are mission-driven organizations dedicated to building strong, healthy and successful communities.

  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc.: A national leader in rural business development, CEI helps to grow good jobs, environmentally-sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and across the country.
  • Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.: Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., part of the Enterprise Community Partners family of companies, improves communities and lives by bringing capital to developments that make well-designed homes affordable.
  • Iroquois Valley Farms REIT: An early adopter of the ImpactUs Marketplace, Iroquois Valley Farms has added its REIT to the platform to enable investors to directly support the growth of the organic food movement by supporting regenerative organic farmers.
  • MicroVest Capital Management LLC: Founded in 2003, MicroVest applies a commercial framework to investing in unbanked and under-served markets to address financial inclusion by investing in financial intermediaries serving unbanked and underserved communities around the world.

*Some of these issuers’ offerings are only available to accredited investors. Investing in private investments requires high risk tolerance, low liquidity concerns, and long-term commitments. Investors must be able to afford to lose their entire investment.

“These four organizations are now part of the growing number of mission-driven institutions realizing the power that technology, coupled with formal investment administration services, can have in reaching broadening their reach to current and prospective impact investors,” said Reginald Stanley, President and CEO of ImpactUs.

“While ImpactUs Marketplace is the platform through which these issuers seek to receive investments, these organizations are central to furthering our mission of creating thriving communities,” said Liz Sessler, Vice President of ImpactUs. “The issuers allow investors to seek returns in the form of affordable housing and healthcare, employment, sustainable agriculture, microfinance and more.”

ImpactUs provides the technological infrastructure to seamlessly connect investors and advisors with mission-driven institutions, providing end-to-end transactional and capital management capabilities. As a broker dealer, ImpactUs harnesses technology to make impact investing more accessible.

ImpactUs Marketplace is open to investors looking to increase their purpose-driven investments. Those interested in learning about these investment opportunities and more can log onto www.ImpactUsMarketplace.com to register.

The foundational support necessary to launch ImpactUs was provided by some of the leading organizations in the social impact sphere, including MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners and City First Enterprises.

About ImpactUs

ImpactUs Marketplace simplifies the impact investing process. It provides investors, advisors, and impact organizations greater choice at accessible costs while directing more capital to funds and projects that deliver community, societal, and environmental benefits. Every day, ImpactUs connects investors with purpose, creating more equitable and thriving communities.

The information contained in this press release does not constitute an offer or solicitation and may not be treated as an offer or solicitation (i) in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation is against the law; (ii) to anyone to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation; (iii) if the person making the offer or solicitation is not qualified to do so. The issuers named in this press release can only be marketed in certain jurisdictions only.

All securities related activity is conducted through ImpactUs Marketplace LLC a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, located at 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20009. ImpactUs does not make investment recommendations and this communication should not be construed as a recommendation for any security offering named in this press release. Private investments are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with private investments. Securities sold through private investments are not publicly traded and are intended for investors who do not have a need for a liquid investment.

Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. (“ECI”, together with its affiliates, “Enterprise”) is a Maryland corporation exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). ECI’s business lines include, among other things, directly and through its affiliates, the syndication of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, multifamily mortgage financing and other structured finance products. ECI’s directors are appointed by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (“Partners”).

Partners is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Code and is a founding member of ImpactUs Marketplace LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“ImpactUs”), a registered broker-dealer and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. ImpactUs’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) appointed a manager and CEO, who manages the company’s day to day affairs.


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Fast Company’s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards

Press Release – NEW YORK, Sept 11th, 2017 – CaringCrowd®, proudly sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, was named Honorable Mention in the Social Good category in Fast Company’s prestigious Innovation by Design Awards, which were announced today. CI&T and R/GA collaborated on the interactive and design work of the crowdfunding platform, built to support public health initiatives in communities worldwide. The Innovation by Design Awards program, now in its sixth year, honors the most innovative and disruptive design solutions created to resolve today’s most challenging business issues. Out of a record number of more than 2,500 international submissions across 13 categories, CaringCrowd® was among the 299 entrants recognized—the most winners, finalists and honorable mentions in the history of the awards.

Johnson & Johnson created CaringCrowd® to respond to a critical need: non-profits working on important and essential community health projects around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds. CaringCrowd® links several strong points of Johnson & Johnson (i.e., technology, marketing) to several strong points of grassroots non-profits (i.e., local knowledge, local people, and the ability to cross the “Last Mile”), giving their community health projects a better chance to succeed and to substantially propel them forward in the rapidly rising trend of crowdfunding.

“We hope that CaringCrowd® brings to the public’s attention the importance of public health, the awareness that addressing disease for so many is within our reach, and the view that so much can be achieved through a bit of caring, a bit of foresight, and a bit of investment,” said Derek Fetzer, co-founder of CaringCrowd®.

“Working with CI&T on this social good platform has been an incredible partnership and co-creation journey, since Day 1,” said John Brennick, co-founder of CaringCrowd®. “With CI&T and our other partners, including R/GA and Klick, we are proud to support passionate individuals at non-profits around the world. And of course we thank the many Johnson & Johnson employees and members of the general public who have contributed to the projects on the site.”

This year’s judging panel, comprised of the world’s best design minds, included actor and furniture designer Terry Crews, Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler and Roman Mars, Founder of 99% Invisible. In addition to R/GA, honorees include household names like Coca-Cola and Sony, and emerging companies like Willow and Away. All of the honorees will be recognized at the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival in NYC on October 23-27. Honorees will also be featured in the October issue of the print magazine, which will be on newsstands in September.

About CaringCrowd®, Proudly Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson

CaringCrowd® is a crowdfunding platform built to support health initiatives anywhere in the world and is free of charge. CaringCrowd® empowers the passionate people working with non-profits on community health projects. Submitted projects are reviewed by a panel of experts before being posted on the site. Since its launch, CaringCrowd® has mobilized over $550,000 in pledges, funding 57 projects, spanning more than 20 countries. Funded projects have included burn centers, nutrition for HIV+ children, hand washing campaigns, supporting orphanages, pediatric heart surgery, river blindness treatment campaigns, and ultrasound units. To learn more, visit caringcrowd.org

About Fast Company

Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, inspiring a new breed of innovative and creative thought leadership, who are actively inventing the future of business. Fast Company believes that business is the primary vehicle for progress and positive change in the world, and encourages businesses and people in business to lean into it. Fast Company was named Adweek’s 2016 Hotlist Winner for Hottest Business Publication. In 2014, the magazine was Adweek’s Hotlist Winner for Hottest Business Publication, the Reader’s Choice Award Winner for Hottest Magazine of the Year, and ASME’s Magazine of the Year. Throughout its history, Fast Company has received over 50 Society of Publication Design Awards.


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Teams Selected for American Underground’s Second Annual Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange: Black Founders

October ‘Boot Camp’ Sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, Lincoln Financial Group

Press Release – (Durham, NC) – September 11, 2017 – Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange: Black Founders, a one-week intensive “boot camp” for Black founders of high growth potential startups, October 8-13, has selected its 2017 class of companies.

The teams selected focus on software, consumer products, big data, analytics or IoT include:

  1. Loanable (Durm) – Loanable helps you create friends and family loans online and repay them easily with auto-draft.
  2. 2020 Shift (NYC) – We train professionals on the skills they need to find careers they love in digital media and technology.
  3. Please Assist Me (Nashville) – Please Assist Me is a tech based comprehensive home assistant service.
  4. DisputeDoc (ATL) – First automation platform for fixing credit and improving credit scores.
  5. Reciprocare (DC) – ReciproCare helps senior care agencies and facilities find caregivers and helps caregivers find the best jobs for their unique needs.
  6. Partake Foods (Jersey City) – Partake Foods is a line of snacks that are free of the top 12 allergens. They’re Non GMO, Kosher, gluten-free, vegan, and made with simple, whole food ingredients.
  7. Ilerasoft (Cincinnati) – Ilerasoft’s software centralizes a health system’s equipment data on one platform to improve FDA safety recalls. We have built a better way to link and match FDA safety recalls to relevant hospital inventory to identify defective medical equipment earlier and more accurately. The current method is inaccurate and can takes over 3 weeks to identify and remediate the right defective equipment, leading to 50,000 preventable injuries. Our solution reduces identification time to 1 day.
  8. ScrapSports (ATL) – ScrapSports is the #1 platform for athletes, coaches, and fans to build their brand, share their story, and cement their legacy on the web.
  9. Zyrobotics (ATL) – Zyrobotics makes interactive STEM tools and learning games for early childhood education that are accessible, adaptive, and cloud-connected.
  10. Civic Eagle (Minneapolis) – We help government and policy organizations learn, engage, and activate the people they serve through a suite of inexpensive software tools.

Five of the 10 teams belong to organizations within the Google for Entrepreneurs partner network, including TechSquare Labs, COCO, Nashville Entrepreneur Center and American Underground.

The program, hosted by American Underground, Google for Entrepreneurs and Lincoln Financial Group, will focus primarily on:

  • Preparation for an angel/seed stage round raise (less than $750k)
  • Knowledge sharing around the unique challenges that face Black founders
  • Pairing founders with a Thurgood Marshall College Fund intern during the program to support execution

Startups will also have one-on-one meetings with investors focused on raising seed capital, network building with larger, corporate/strategic partners, and 5+ hours of direct mentoring from an area expert.

Quote from Adam Klein, chief strategist, American Underground

“Last year, the inaugural Black Founders edition of Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange was a huge success. We saw half of all of the participating companies in 2016 receive funding and were better prepared to tackle the unique challenges facing Black startup executives.”

Quote from Nicole Froker, Partner Engagement Manager, Google for Entrepreneurs

“Together with American Underground, we are deeply committed to supporting the growth and success of underrepresented founders. The Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange program is ​a unique opportunity to help bridge the gap between founders seeking funding with mentors and investors, and we saw great success from last year’s program. We are proud to partner with American Underground once again to advance this effort.”

Quote from William Crowder. managing partner, 42 Venture Partners

“There are many groups and places touting their interest in inclusion and diversity but I’ve always been biased towards supporting the efforts of those that are willing to take action as well. Durham is one such community and the American Underground and Google’s commitment are game changers. This experience for startup founders is exactly what is needed to measurably move the needle forward with the ultimate goal of building a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem.”

Quote from Harold Hughes, Founder & CEO, Bandwagon (2016 participant)

“The program directly impacted the success we’ve realized in the last six months. Not only was I able to make connections with black founders from across the country who are dealing with the same challenges that I face, but I was able to tap into a group of supporters in the American Underground team that really opened doors.”

About American Underground

The American Underground — one of twelve Google for Entrepreneurs tech hubs in North America — launched seven years ago in the basement of an old tobacco warehouse at the American Tobacco Historic District. It now encompasses close to 125,000 sq ft of space at three locations in downtown Durham as well as a strategic partnership with open source leader Red Hat to offer an office in Silicon Valley. Founding partners include Google for Entrepreneurs, Lincoln Financial Group, Coastal Credit Union, Duke University, Fidelity Labs, and Capitol Broadcasting Company.

About Google for Entrepreneurs

Google for Entrepreneurs provides financial support and the best of Google’s resources to dozens of coworking spaces and community programs across 125 countries. We also create Campuses: physical hubs where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, and build companies that will change the world. To learn more about Google for Entrepreneurs, visit google.com/entrepreneurs or follow us on Twitter (@GoogleForEntrep).


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Ending Alzheimer’s by Crowdsourcing Innovations

Press Release – Washington, DC/ San Francisco, CA/ (September 7, 2017) – Frustrated by the absence of public urgency and funding to stop Alzheimer’s—and the slow pace of science—a world-class team of scientists and advocates are joining forces to globally crowdsource a new 21st century approach to leapfrog scientific progress and overcome many of the obstacles to stopping this horrific disease.

The call to discover breakthrough new technologies for brain health is intended to activate interest from a broad spectrum of expert and lay innovators worldwide—from fields as wide-ranging as artificial intelligence, bio-technology, precision pharmaceuticals, physics, video games and brain hacking—to focus their talents and ingenuity on detecting the earliest moments of Alzheimer’s.

“With unprecedented global aging, unless Alzheimer’s disease is stopped—and stopped soon—it will become the health, social and financial sinkhole of the 21st century,” said Ken Dychtwald, PhD, Founder and CEO of Age Wave, and a founding member of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team.

At the XPRIZE Visioneers Summit in early October, the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team will present their innovative proposal—in competition with four other teams focused on other global grand challenges including clean air, zero waste mining, cybersecurity and re-imagining democracy—to a group of 300 scientists, academics, visionaries and funders who will determine which of the prize concepts are “certified to launch.”

The original idea of an Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team was conceived by psychologist/gerontologist Dychtwald and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, in the fall of 2012. Dychtwald was captivated by XPRIZE’s bold and innovative approach to solving some of the biggest problems of our time.

According to George Vradenburg, JD, Co-Founder and Chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and a founding member of the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough team, “By employing global crowdsourcing and harnessing emerging technologies, we are hoping to unleash a new era of interventions and treatments that would have the best chance of saving lives.”

“If we prevent Alzheimer’s, we’re going to unlock vast amounts of human potential and reduce or eliminate the suffering of tens of millions of victims and their families,” said Philip Edgcumbe, PhD, a 28-year-old Canadian scientist, biomedical engineer, entrepreneur and medical student who is leading the Alzheimer’s team. “There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is expected to triple in the coming decades due to increasing longevity and the global age wave.”

According to Lisa Genova, PhD, a Harvard trained neuroscientist and best-selling author of Still Alice, “If an XPRIZE were launched to tackle Alzheimer’s, it could change the world’s perception of this disease—from hopelessness that it will never be cured to a hopeful expectation that we will soon have a prevention, treatments or even a cure, much as we’ve seen with tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, polio, certain cancers, HIV and heart disease.”

More than 100 leading neuroscientists, advocates and exponential technology experts have contributed their ideas and insights to this process. Team advisors include: Maria Shriver, activist, journalist, former first lady of California; Geoffrey Ling, MD, PhD, former Founding Director of bio-tech at DARPA; Rudi Tanzi, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Harvard University; Reisa Sperling, MD, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Ajay Verma, MD, PhD, CMO at United Neurosciences; and Daniel Kraft, MD, Founding Executive Director Exponential Medicine, Singularity University.


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Results Announced for 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices Review

Press Release – LONDON, NEW YORK, ZURICH, SEPTEMBER 7, 2017: S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), one of the world’s leading index providers, and RobecoSAM, an investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing (SI), today announced the results of the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review.

The three largest additions and deletions (by free-float market capitalization) to the DJSI World this year include:

Additions: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., British American Tobacco p.l.c., ASML Holding N.V.
Deletions: Enbridge Inc.1, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, Rio Tinto plc 2
1 Still member of DJSI North America
2 Still member of DJSI Europe

The new component lists for the DJSI will be published on the RobecoSAM website on Monday, September 11, 2017. All changes are effective on Monday, September 18, 2017.

Launched in 1999, the DJSI World represents the gold standard for corporate sustainability and is the first global index to track the leading sustainability-driven companies based on RobecoSAM’s analysis of financially material Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors and S&P DJI’s robust index methodology. Every year, RobecoSAM assesses the world’s largest companies via its Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), which uses a consistent, rules-based methodology to convert an average of 600 data points per company into one overall score. This score determines inclusion in the DJSI.

Manjit Jus, Head of Sustainability Application & Operations, RobecoSAM: “Being a pioneer and thought leader in Sustainability Investing for over 20 years, we understand the right questions to ask in our CSA in terms of financially material sustainability aspects within the corporate world. This is what firms appreciate about the CSA. It brings them a big step ahead in terms of Corporate Sustainability and with this – a big step ahead of their competitors – getting a coveted spot in the DJSI makes sure they continue to play in the premier league of companies.”

David Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee, S&P Dow Jones Indices: “Many of the events witnessed so far in 2017 make it even more important for corporations around the globe to recognize sustainability, establish policies and manage their businesses in ways that support and increase sustainability of the global environment and the world’s leading businesses. The DJSI family provide a tool for investors to create asset allocations that can further sustainability.”

Ahead of the Curve

RobecoSAM prides itself on the development of leading ESG assessment criteria to achieve deeper insights into companies’ sustainability practices. Tax Strategy and Materiality criteria were, for example, added to the CSA in 2014 and 2016, respectively, anticipating investors’ growing interest in them.

This year, RobecoSAM’s CSA assessed Policy Influence for the first time to learn more about companies’ lobbying activities, and expanded the Impact Measurement & Valuation criteria to nearly all industries. Preliminary analysis of the CSA data set for these criteria reveals:

Companies spend on policy influence

RobecoSAM perceives Policy Influence as a material issue for investors that deserves more attention from ESG and investment analysts. In situations where the revenues of public companies are larger than the GDPs of the countries in which they operate these companies may exert tremendous influence over the local political and legislative process. This creates risks and opportunities which are critical inputs into investment decisions.

Analysis of the CSA dataset reveals that companies in the DJSI assessment universe spend an average of 0.02% of total sales annually on policy influence activities (median spending is 0.01% of total sales). Another observation is that companies are hesitant to report on Policy Influence spend that goes beyond legal obligation.

Companies face difficulty assessing financial impacts

In light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations Development Programme in 2016, companies, governments and investors alike want to understand both the positive and negative externalities inherent in companies’ business models and how their products, services and operations contribute to, or detract from, the achievement of the SDGs.

Analysis of the CSA data set shows that while the vast majority (70%) of companies are aware of the need to understand these types of environmental and social profits and losses, less than 10% of companies actually have a viable valuation approach in place today that provides detailed insights into these potential financial impacts.


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Reclaiming Milwaukee’s Distressed Northside Neighborhoods

Groundbreaking Public Private Partnership Spearheaded by Gorman & Company Provides Job Training for Previously Incarcerated Individuals and Renovates Blighted Foreclosed Homes

Gorman & Company’s multi-phased $65 million Northside Housing Initiative has rescued 330 tax foreclosed in five fragile neighborhoods and has created a successful workforce development initiative under the Milwaukee Builds program that is designed to provide previously incarcerated individuals with pre-apprenticeship training for core construction trades.

Press Release – Milwaukee, WI — September 7, 2017 — A bold workforce development program, Milwaukee Builds that targets job training in the construction trades for previously incarcerated individuals, is an integral part of a multi-staged $65 million public/private partnership the Northside Housing Initiative (NHI) spearheaded by Gorman & Company, Inc. (Gorman) Northcott Neighborhood House, the City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). NHI is battling rampant unemployment and the detritus of foreclosures in five historic neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s fragile near Northside. The workforce-training program that was part of the recently completed eighth phase of the NHI, the Century City Housing Initiative, achieved a compelling 75% success rate for the participants in completing the innovative program and obtaining construction job placements.

Since breaking ground in 2007, Gorman’s NHI – now embarking on its ninth phase, has reclaimed and renovated 330 distressed properties, touching over 200 blocks. In the process, NHI has helped stabilize Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods of Sherman Park, Washington Park, Metcalf Park, North Division and Amani, and reclaimed these properties for Milwaukee’s tax rolls. Each phase of the scattered site NHI involves purchasing foreclosed vacant lots, homes, or duplexes from the City of Milwaukee. The properties, designated for families with household incomes at or below 60% of Milwaukee County’s median income with an opportunity for eventual homeownership, include renovated and newly constructed one-family, two-family and multi-family structures.

At the heart of the multi-phase NHI is Milwaukee Builds, a workforce-training program designed to help area residents build family-supporting careers, which has provided over 300 formerly incarcerated men and women with training and jobs in the construction trades.The purpose of Milwaukee Builds, which has continued to evolve and progress since its inception, is to provide participants with career building skills so they can meet the huge demand for labor within the principal trades in the construction industry.

In the latest phase of the scattered site NHI just completed, the Century City Homeowners Initiative, (comprised of 40 new and renovated affordable single-family homes and duplexes), Gorman targeted tax foreclosed properties around the new Century City Business Park. During this phase, Gorman partnered with the Northcott Neighborhood House to recruit a class of 40 participants reentering society after incarceration and placed them in a pre-apprenticeship project that focused on training them for the core construction trades of carpentry, electrical plumbing and HVAC.

The enriched six-month long pilot project which combined hands on professional training, classroom instruction, field work, and supportive vocational services resulted in professional apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry for the trainees who successfully completed the program. In the end, 32 of 40 participants in the class graduated from the program and earned industry job placements paying no less than $15 an hour.

Tony A. Kearney Sr., project director Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc. described the positive ramifications the Milwaukee Builds job training initiative has on the future employability of the participants and in uplifting their lives:

“The employment and training initiative developed by Northcott Neighborhood House and Gorman and Company has a direct and positive impact on some of the most distressed neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee,” remarked Tony A. Kearney Sr., project director Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc. “The fact that the program provides employment opportunities to residents (many of whom have felony convictions) that includes access to industry certifications and academic accreditation greatly improves their employability and their quality of life and helps to reduce crime.”

Background

Foreclosures hit many Northern and Midwestern cities hard including Milwaukee, particularly the City’s Northside where hundreds of abandoned and boarded up houses that were once proud homes for waves of ethnic groups, disappeared from the tax rolls and became magnets for crime, plummeted surrounding property values, strained city resources and, finally, devastated their fragile neighborhoods. Compounding the volatile mix –a dismal employment environment where 1/5 (20%) of working age Northside residents do not have jobs.

To combat chronic unemployment as part of NHI’s critical effort to revive and stabilize these neighborhoods, Gorman partnered with Northcott Neighborhood House, a local non-profit organization, on a unique reentry workforce program, Milwaukee Builds, which was designed to train men and women (many of whom were previously incarcerated) and provide them with jobs at the homes sites being renovated as part of NHI. The participants are trained in soft skills and earn certifications related to various skilled construction trades. NHI is part of a multi-faceted economic development strategy to infuse these distressed neighborhoods with new life and to provide a safer environment surrounding the City of Milwaukee’s new Century City Business Park.

About Gorman & Company

Gorman & Company is nationally recognized for revitalizing communities and urban neighborhoods through innovative public-private partnerships. As a trusted partner and respected industry leader since 1984, Gorman specializes in downtown renewal, the preservation of affordable housing, workforce housing and the adaptive reuse of significant historic landmarks. Gorman has offices is based in Madison, WI with offices in Milwaukee, Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Miami, FL and Phoenix, AZ.


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US SIF Foundation Releases Enhanced “Fundamentals Of Sustainable And Impact Investment” Online Training Course

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., September 6, 2017 – The US SIF Foundation’s Center for Sustainable Investment Education has launched an updated version of its online course, the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment. This course provides financial advisors and other financial professionals with a unique blend of instruction and scenario learning that explains how to talk about sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI) with clients, incorporate SRI into investment portfolios and understand the latest trends and research.

Now through the end of September, the course will be offered at a promotional rate of $100 for US SIF members and $150 for non-members by following the prompts at www.ussif.org/courses.

Lisa Woll, CEO of the US SIF Foundation said, “We are delighted to launch the updated Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment. Research and practical experience tell us that many financial professionals want to know more about sustainable and impact investing, but do not have the tools at their disposal to obtain this expertise. The Fundamentals course allows financial professionals to understand and communicate about sustainable and impact investing options and to be familiar with current trends and research in order to best serve their clients.”

“We applaud the US SIF Foundation for their commitment to training and education in the impact investing arena, especially as asset managers continue to expand their platforms,” said Kirstin Hill, Managing Director, Strategic Performance Executive for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “Client demand to align investments with personal values has never been greater, and expanded advisor awareness and understanding is critical to meeting that demand.”

George Gay, CFA, AIF and the Chief Executive of First Affirmative Financial Network (FAFN) said, “FAFN has provided sustainable and responsible mutual fund and model portfolio strategies to a network of advisors since 1988. To meet expanding demand, there must be a corresponding growth in the number of financial professionals with expertise in sustainable and impact investment. We welcome the updated Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment course because it provides practitioners with the on-ramp to SRI.”

The Fundamentals course is more comprehensive and user-friendly with an enhanced interface accessible on all browsers and devices. It features fresh and appealing infographics updated with the latest research on the growth of sustainable and impact investing in the United States and around the world. Users will also have access to conclusions of the latest meta-studies of academic and industry literature showing the links between environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and financial performance.

The course offers four modules covering key aspects of sustainable and impact investment:

  • Module I: An Overview of Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing
  • Module II: Approaches to ESG, SRI Portfolio Construction Considerations and Shareowner Advocacy
  • Module III: Performance Studies, Fiduciary Standards and Global Trends
  • Module IV: Communicating your SRI Expertise with Clients

Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment qualifies for three CFP® Board, CFA Institute, CIMA®, CIMC® and CPWA® continuing education credits.

The US SIF Foundation also offers live versions of the course several times a year. The next opportunity is in San Diego on November 1. More information can be found at www.ussif.org/courses.


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YMCA of Greater Charlotte Builds Employee Engagement with StaffConnect Mobile Platform

StaffConnect App Transforms How YMCA Reaches, Communicates and Engages with Network of 4,700 Onsite and Non-Desk Employees

Press Release – London and San Francisco, CA (September 5, 2017)StaffConnect, provider of the world’s leading enterprise mobile employee engagement platform, today announced the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has selected its StaffConnect Mobile App Platform to build levels of engagement with its network of 4,700 onsite and non-desk employees (NDEs).

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte engages nearly 300,000 men, women and children, regardless of age, income, or background at its 19 locations and two resident camps. Deeply rooted in the community since 1874, it has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver lasting personal and social change. Recently, the YMCA wished to extend its mission of delivering positive transformation not only to its client base, but also to its internal network of employees. Its goal was to create an open communication channel to connect all part-time and full-time employees; to give them a voice and to keep them updated with the latest fundraising initiatives and organizational goals. The YMCA had the foresight to recognize that in doing this, it would drive up the levels of employee engagement, thereby not only increasing job satisfaction, but also increasing loyalty, dedication, retention and bottom-line results.

Molly Thompson, Vice President of PR and Communications, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, explained, “Roughly 4,700 people work for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, but you’ll find very few sitting at a computer. Our employees are engaging kids in camp activities, teaching swim lessons, assisting seniors in health and wellness classes and delivering countless programs that strengthen individuals and our community. One of our greatest challenges as an organization has been internal communication and staff engagement. Staff surveys indicate that our teams often feel disconnected and uninformed.”

“But, we wanted more than just a communication tool for employee communication, we recognized that to be successful we needed to partner with a provider that had the communications expertise to support and guide us on best-practice content strategy, from launch and into ongoing usage,” continued Thompson. “After quite a bit of exhaustive research we found that only StaffConnect could deliver the end-to-end solution we required. The StaffConnect app is quickly becoming our employees’ primary resource for information and connection to our cause. StaffConnect allows our headquarters to share important news and information with our staff teams and allows employees to ask questions or make comments. Within the comfort and safety of an internal environment, our employees post both personal and professional content that lets them know their thoughts and ideas have value. On StaffConnect, our employees highlight teammate behavior worth replicating, they recognize milestones and celebrate achievements. StaffConnect is so much more than a communication tool, it is a pathway to the kind of culture in which our people want to live, work and stay.”

“The YMCA recognized that employee engagement isn’t just critical for ‘for-profit’ organizations, but for nonprofits as well in order to reach their full potential. This includes raising increased funding and donations, and attracting the ideal new employees, while retaining and improving the productivity and results of its current workforce,” said Geraldine Osman, Vice President of Marketing, StaffConnect. “StaffConnect provided the YMCA with a sophisticated mobile platform which supported their business goals, combined with domain expertise from our communications professionals to help them define a winning communication strategy.”

To learn more about how YMCA keeps employees and volunteers engaged, please read: https://www.staffconnectapp.com/customers/ymca-case-study/

To learn more about employee engagement in nonprofits, please read, “How to Solve the Employee Engagement Crisis for Not-for-Profit Organizations.”

About StaffConnect

StaffConnect delivers the world’s leading mobile employee engagement platform. The StaffConnect solution transforms the employee experience by enabling large enterprises to connect, communicate and engage their entire workforce, especially remote, non-desk employees. The customer-branded mobile app gives employees ‘a voice’ – with access to company and user-generated content to increase loyalty and productivity. The cloud-hosted platform empowers employers to target that content, with analytics, to deepen engagement with everyone. From offices in London and San Francisco, StaffConnect’s platform and domain expertise are supporting large businesses around the world to inspire their workforces to deliver better performance, improved customer experiences and greater shareholder value. For further information, please visit: www.staffconnectapp.com.


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