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.
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.
— Illumina Corporation Foundation invests in digitally immersive education curriculum program to pave the way for the next generation of genomics professionals —
Press Release – Silver Spring, Maryland (Wednesday, February 20, 2019) – Illumina Corporate Foundation and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital curriculum resources, digital content, and professional development for K-12 classrooms, today launched DNA Decoded, a program designed to equip middle and high school teachers with the power to unlock the study of genomics to advance the future for their students. DNA Decoded provides easy, ready-to-go, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned lessons and activities for educators serving young learners in grades 6 – 12, enabling them to explore genomics in everyday life.
The Illumina Corporate Foundation advances genomic literacy through community outreach, collaborations and partnerships, and contributions to oncology, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and genetic diseases. By supporting the next generation of professionals, through partnerships with companies like Discovery Education and programs like DNA Decoded, the Illumina Corporate Foundation is paving the way, to inspire youth to pursue careers in STEM.
“This partnership with Discovery Education provides an innovative platform enabling teachers to ignite genomic curiosity in students,” said Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications for Illumina, Inc. Karen Possemato. “Supporting and empowering teachers is a critical first step to helping the next generation discover the power of genomics and its potential for solving global challenges, such as how we diagnose cancer and feed the world’s population.”
The Illumina Corporate Foundation is committed to sharing the promise of genomics with communities around the world. Toward that end, DNA Decoded focuses on empowering educators with digitally immersive tools that bring genomics to life in their classrooms. With standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, students across the U.S. will be able to study how genes interact and they will apply the study of genomics to real-world challenges, helping them to realize the hope genomics represents in rare and undiagnosed diseases.
Educators can download the following digital curriculum resources at by visiting DNADecoded.org:
“Discovery Education is proud to partner with the Illumina Corporation Foundation to nurture budding young scientists’ boundless curiosity and deepen their understanding of how they can use science to change the world,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Discovery Education Lori McFarling. “Working with educators and students nationwide, we are excited to inspire problem-solving and the exploration of new career pathways powered by the study of STEM.”
The Illumina Corporate Foundation and Discovery Education created DNA Decoded to provide students with engaging digital resources to apply genomics solutions to the challenges for everyday life. DNA Decoded aids educators and learners in examining how STEM professionals use genomics to fight diseases, such as sickle cell anemia and cancer, as well as to boost the health of the world’s food supply. DNA Decoded also helps school communities learn about the impacts of DNA beyond ancestry and gene traits. Students are able to leverage newfound accessibility to genomics by exploring careers in STEM through these stimulating activities and an accompanying educator guide.
“‘DNA Decoded’ has the power to engage students in critical content mastery steps that can launch them into a new world of possibilities in STEM,” said Andy Losik, STEM teacher at Hamilton Community Schools in Hamilton, Michigan. “The program’s digitally immersive tools make learning the complexity of genes, and how they affect the world around us, exciting and fun.”
DNA Decoded resources are available at no-cost at dnadecoded.org and are also available in Discovery Education Streaming. For more information about Discovery Education’s digital curriculum resources and professional development services, visit discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected with Discovery Education through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @DiscoveryEd.
Press Release – Ten women-owned businesses from Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya to attend COTERIE, one of the United States’ top fashion trade shows, thanks to support from the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative.
Taking place at the Javits Center, New York City, on 25-27 February, COTERIE provides an incredible opportunity for these talented brands to showcase their collections and connect with international buyers. All ten companies are part of SheTrades in the Commonwealth Programme, funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).
In 2018, SheTrades sponsored a delegation of 9 brands from Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to attend the fall edition of COTERIE, which led to meetings with 100 buyers and secured US $495,000 USD in trade leads.
One of the participating companies was Afrodesiac, a Ghanaian company that has seen tremendous success following its attendance at COTERIE.
‘The International Trade Centre has helped our company reach international markets by giving us access to new buyers through trade shows and exhibitions,’ said Chiedza Makonnen, Founder of Afrodesiac Worldwide. ‘Thanks to support from SheTrades and DFID, we expanded our business by over 50%.’
Makonnen added: ‘New orders secured at COTERIE has had an impact throughout our supply chain, which includes Cadling, a Ghanaian women manufacturer with whom we tripled our orders of raw materials. Thank you SheTrades! Your impact changes lives and empowers female entrepreneurs.’
Apply to be a part of SheTrades in the Commonwealth Programme: https://shetradescommonwealth.converve.io
Press Release – WASHINGTON, LONDON, NAIROBI – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has provided initial financing to SunFunder’s $85 million Solar Energy Transformation Fund which supports businesses providing solar solutions to some of the millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and India who lack access to electricity.
The financing is part of a $25 million commitment of senior and junior debt OPIC entered last September. Since OPIC committed financing, two other lenders have also committed loans, bringing the first close total raised to $42.5 million. This blended financing package includes $7.5 million from Calvert Impact Capital and $5 million from Ceniarth. The IKEA Foundation also provided a grant of $5 million as catalytic capital for the fund.
The Solar Energy Transformation Fund is one of a group of investment vehicles managed by SunFunder, a solar energy finance business with offices in the U.S., London and Nairobi working to scale up clean energy access in Africa and Asia by financing solar companies active in off-grid and weak-grid communities.
“This project will advance OPIC’s mission of empowering people in some of the world’s poorest countries, by bringing affordable electricity to remote areas that are not connected to an electricity grid,” said Ray W. Washburne, OPIC President and CEO. “As we’ve seen from the additional financing raised, it is also a testament to OPIC’s ability to mobilize additional investment.”
SunFunder projects that the Solar Energy Transformation Fund will improve energy access for three million people and mitigate 480,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually over the nine year life of the fund. To date, SunFunder has deployed $65 million of debt financing to 46 solar borrowers in Africa and Asia.
“SunFunder has now closed over $100 million in diversified solar debt funds and the SET Fund opens up new opportunities. As our largest fund and with a 9-year tenor, the SET Fund increases both the range and size of debt capital offerings that we can provide, especially for productive use solutions and commercial projects,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder founder and CEO. “We’re grateful for the support from this investor group and pleased to be growing these long-standing relationships.”
OPIC’s support of this project advances several Agency priorities including the 2X Women’s Initiative, which supports women-owned and women-led businesses.
SunFunder was founded in 2012 by Ryan Levinson and Audrey Desiderato, with a commitment to provide financing for working capital, construction, inventory and structured finance loans to emerging market beyond the grid solar projects and companies.
By bringing electricity to some of the hardest to reach communities in Africa, these projects also advance the U.S. Power Africa initiative to bring electricity to more of the hundreds of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who live without power.
OPIC previously committed financing to another SunFunder-managed fund, the Beyond the Grid Solar Fund, which has provided financing for off-grid companies in Africa, India, the Pacific Islands and Jordan. Calvert Impact Capital and Ceniarth also both invested in previous SunFunder debt funds.
“The IKEA Foundation is supporting SunFunder with a $5 million grant for its important work in serving the off-grid communities in East and West Africa and India because we believe that helping families access renewable energy will enable them to afford a better everyday life while also protecting the planet,” Jolanda van Ginkel, Renewable Energy Program Manager at IKEA Foundation.
“We’re excited to work with this group of lenders to meet SunFunder’s growing capital needs. Continuing to scale proven fund managers like SunFunder is critical to creating access to capital for local businesses that are leading the energy transformation,” said Jennifer Pryce, President and CEO of Calvert Impact Capital.
“Ceniarth has been an active energy access investor for the past four years and has monitored activity closely across the sector. SunFunder has grown into a sophisticated and responsible lender in a market that continues to have significant complexity, but critical impact. We are excited to invest alongside OPIC and Calvert Impact Capital in expanding the SET fund,” said Diane Isenberg, Founder and Director of Ceniarth.
One Down, 11 to Go: After Citi Discloses Women Make 29 Percent Less Than Men, Arjuna Capital Announces Remainder of Median Gender Pay Gap Targets: Adobe, Amazon, Intel, Facebook, Google, BNYMellon, BofA, Wells Fargo, AmEx, JPMorgan and Mastercard.
Press Release – BOSTON (February 13, 2019) – During an international news event today with the Equal Rights Advocates and Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, shareholder advocate Arjuna Capital named the 12 top banks and tech giants it is engaging in 2019 with median gender pay equity resolutions. Arjuna Capital’s median gender pay gap proposal has been filed with Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Facebook, Google, Intel, JPMorgan, Mastercard and Wells Fargo.
In January, Citigroup surprised investors when it revealed that its “median” or companywide gender pay gap is 29 percent. In doing so, Citi became the first U.S. company to respond favorably to a new gender pay shareholder proposal from Arjuna Capital asking for a report to investors on the percentage global median pay gap between male and female employees across race and ethnicity, including base, bonus and equity compensation. The unadjusted 29 percent ‘median pay’ gap stands alongside and in contrast to an earlier disclosure Arjuna requested from Citi that women are paid 99 percent that of their direct male peers on an adjusted ‘equal pay for equal work’ basis—that is men and women holding the same jobs, at the same level and geography.
Leading gender pay shareholder advocates and women’s rights experts are cautiously optimistic that the other U.S. companies engaged by Arjuna on median pay will follow in Citi’s footsteps and disclose their median wage data, alongside their equal pay data.
Examples of the proposals in front of BofA and Google are available here: https://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Gender-Pay-Equity-Proposal_GOOGL_2019.pdf and https://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Gender-Pay-Equity-Proposal_Bank-of-America_2019_Amended.pdf.
Arjuna Capital Managing Partner Natasha Lamb said: “There are gender pay gaps … and then there are median gender pay gaps. For three years, Arjuna Capital has led the charge on ‘equal pay for equal work’ shareholder activism. But ‘equal pay’ is only half the story. Today, we are announcing the names of 11 leading banks, technology and retail companies that will be the focus of the next phase of the gender pay equity fight—’median pay’ gaps. We hope to work with these companies in the same collaborative, productive way we did with Citi to publish authentic disclosures that address the full scope of the gender pay gap issue. Women are dramatically underrepresented in high-paying positions at nearly all major corporations. So, when more U.S. companies begin disclosing their ‘median pay’ gaps, the numbers are going to be shocking. But that’s what we are dealing with. It’s the whole story.”
Revealing the whole story of the gender (and racial) pay gap is essential to create change. As it stands, the World Economic Forum estimates the gender pay gap costs the economy $1.2 trillion annually. The median income for all women working full time in the United States is still just 80 percent of that of men, a disparity that can equal nearly half a million dollars over a career. And the income gap for African American and Latina women compared to all men yawns wider at 60 percent and 55 percent respectively. At the current rate, women will not reach pay parity until 2059. This depressing statistic is not only bad for women, it’s bad for the economy, and it’s bad for the companies that can benefit now from their leadership and talent.
Noreen Farrell, executive director, Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), said: “The test of whether women are valued equally in the workplace cannot end with whether they are paid equally for the same work. High road companies across the country are also examining whether women are equally represented among their highest paid leaders. The median pay gap measures just that. The quicker companies become transparent about their leadership gap, the quicker we can support them in implementing solutions that promote equity at the top and inspire confidence in employers, customers, and investors alike.”
Heather McCulloch, founder and executive director, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, said: “Closing the pay gap is critical to the economic security of women, their families, their communities … and the national economy. Women, and especially women of color, are more likely to be the sole, primary or co-breadwinners in their households than ever before. Taking steps to increase opportunities for them to thrive in the workplace is in everyone’s interest. We applaud companies that track and share median pay data as it will help us all work together towards promising solutions.”
Arjuna Capital’s Lamb added: “The equal pay for equal work gaps we have helped close at 22 companies measure whether women are being paid commensurate to their peers for the work they are doing today. The median pay gaps we are confronting at US companies in 2019 measure whether or not women are holding as many high-paying jobs as men. Most importantly, narrowing the median pay gap is equivalent to more women in leadership and the performance benefits that diversity affords. That’s where we want to make a difference.”
Companies, including Citi, which operate in the United Kingdom are now under mandate to disclose median gender pay gaps. In 2018, Bank of America revealed a 31 percent hourly pay gap for its U.K. operations. Citigroup reported a 36 percent median pay gap in the U.K., but prior to January’s announcement had not agreed to publish median information for its global operations. Median pay disclosures, as opposed to “equal pay” data reflect a lack of female representation in higher paying jobs, and less women in leadership.
In 2018, Arjuna persuaded Citibank, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, American Express, Mastercard, Reinsurance Group and Progressive Insurance to publish their gender pay gaps on an equal pay for equal work basis.
Since 2016, Arjuna Capital compelled similar disclosures from 22 companies, including leading U.S. tech and retail firms Apple, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, eBay, Adobe, Expedia, Texas Instruments, Starbucks, Costco, and Nike. A “Gender Pay Scorecard” of companies engaged by investors on gender pay equity is available here: http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/GenderPayScorecard.pdf.
In the coming weeks, Arjuna Capital anticipates working with each of the remaining 11 companies it has engaged on the median gender pay gap to come to an agreement on meeting the terms of the proposal. As companies agree to disclose median pay gap information, Arjuna intends to withdraw its shareholder resolutions, one at a time, before they go to a vote at the companies’ annual shareholder meetings. Arjuna will make public announcements for each of the 11 shareholder engagements, as to whether the company decides to respond or reject the proposal.
Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focused on sustainable and impact investing. Lamb and Arjuna Capital have been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote gender pay equity in the tech, banking, and retail sectors. Natasha Lamb was named to the “Bloomberg 50” list of influencers who defined global business in 2017. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com.
In Gonaives, the coastal city where his parents live in a tan block home stained nearly to its roof by a mud-line left behind from Haiti’s devastating 2008 hurricane season, Marc-Henry Jean first dreamed of an education in the United States.
He turned the dream into a reality, earning a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in management from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee in December.
Now he’s raising his sights with a plan to promote positive community interaction through a brand, “Yes to Love, no to hate,” and a book carrying a similar message of spirituality, unity and hope.
“The call is to promote love, to educate people about the power of love and change their communities,” said Jean, 31, who will sign copies of his book, Growing Together in Prayer, Reflection and Action, on Monday, March 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium. “With love, we are capable of doing great things. With love, we can make a country like Haiti become a county like the United States.”
The event also serves as the U.S. launch of “Yes to Love, no to hate,” which includes a clothing line produced in Bradenton, where Jean lives with his wife, Rose, a schoolteacher and model, and their 5-year-old daughter, Markayla.
“We want every single person who has the opportunity to wear a ‘Yes to Love, no to hate’ product to be an ambassador promoting love, promoting unity, because more than ever before, we need that in the United States and around the world,” Jean said. “I’m truly honored to have the opportunity to launch this initiative here at USFSM because once I was a student, and today I am clearly capable of proving to the world that a student from USFSM is capable of achieving great things.”
Jean attended Christian-based primary and secondary schools in Haiti before enrolling in college at the Université of Paris 8 in Saint-Denis, France. He left the university during his freshman year and moved to Florida, earning an associate degree from State College of Florida.
From there, Jean enrolled at USFSM, an experience that resulted in both a four-year degree and transformed him into a self-described “volunteer ambassador” for the school based on the support he received the relationships he developed with faculty and students.
“That is very important to me,” Jean said. “I promote USFSM as much as I can everywhere I go. I always talk about how proud I am to be a graduate.”
He left a positive impression during his time at USFSM. Cihan Cobanoglu, a professor in the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, said Jean shone on a community engagement project for a Food and Culture class in which he volunteered to work with a non-profit.
“He was an exemplary student,” Cobanoglu said. “I would call him a social entrepreneur, because he has all the characteristics of one.”
Jean’s inspiration for the book, which originally was published in French, grew from an epiphany he experienced following an earthquake that killed as many as 200,000 Haitians and destroyed an estimated 250,000 homes in 2010. The disaster further damaged Haiti’s already-fragile economy and created financial, educational and humanitarian challenges that persist nearly a decade later.
“My home country doesn’t define my destination; it motivates me,” Jean said. “It inspires me to work harder, to be more productive in anything I’m doing. I want people, when they look at me and what I’m capable of achieving, to find a source of inspiration. If this guy, who is from this place, is capable of doing this, what about me?
“I don’t do it to promote poverty as a good thing. I do it to show people that if you want to get out of poverty, go to school. Get an education. Come to USF, or go to another school so that you can improve the person you are and become a better-educated version of yourself.”
Jean takes an active role in the Sarasota-Manatee region, serving as a board member of Project Light Manatee, an English learning center for immigrants, and giving pro bono presentations at schools in which he shares a message rooted in kindness and mutual respect.
He hopes someday to build a manufacturing center in Haiti for “Yes to Love, no to hate” products, with a portion of the profits designated to assist disadvantaged individuals there and elsewhere. He has received early interest from investors about licensing opportunities, and already his schedule is filling with promotional appearances, including stops in Maryland, Quebec and Haiti.
“Yes to Love, no to hate” is, Jean explains, an alternative to mainstream branded apparel that, in his estimation, carries a more meaningful message.
“To me, dressing with a Nike product is dressing to impress, because they are expensive, so, most likely, they are made for people who have money,” Jean says. “Dressing with a ‘Yes to love, no to hate’ product is cheap, but it’s dressing to express.”
USFSM Associate Professor of Management Dr. Jean Kabongo described Jean as one of the top students in his class, and as someone who distinguished himself with an entrepreneurial spirit and an understanding of how to put useful ideas into practice.
“Marc-Henry’s message is powerful and meaningful,” Kabongo said. “It speaks to the universality of humankind and hopes to bring people together as one regardless of situations and circumstances. The message is also timely, given what’s going on in our world today.”
Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
Partnership uses software-driven solution developed by Social Solutions and a philanthropic investment by Ballmer Group
Press Release – AUSTIN, Texas & KANSAS CITY, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)—Social Solutions Global, in partnership with Ballmer Group, today announced Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) as the first district in the country to join the organizations’ national initiative to share data for increased program integration between local program organizations and school districts. The technology partnership will allow the district and local nonprofit organizations to collaborate, share program insights, and provide 360-degree support for the students they serve to drive better student outcomes.
“To help give children a better shot at the American dream, communities, government agencies, and nonprofits touch their lives in multiple ways, yet this sector often lacks the technology to uncover life-changing insights and drive systemic change,” said Ballmer Group co-founder and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “We can do better to connect the dots and protect privacy at the same time.”
“Our mission is to provide a better education for all of our students, and we’re making solid progress, as evidenced by our improved scores in this year’s state Annual Progress Report – our highest ever,” said KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell. “This partnership, which will connect our schools with local nonprofits, will help us continue down the path to success, and we look forward to collaborating with organizations and programs in our community.”
Beyond using Social Solutions’ new Apricot 360 solution to more efficiently and effectively run programs, this partnership with KCPS will allow local K-12-focused nonprofits to better assess their impact in advancing a child’s success, incorporating areas such as improvements in grades or attendance. The program is part of Ballmer Group and Social Solutions’ commitment to changing deeply established education systems to focus on outcomes and a child’s overall well-being, rather than short-term programs or test scores.
“This partnership between Social Solutions and KCPS will enhance community-wide collaboration, allowing nonprofits to evolve our programs as we gain a true understanding of each child and their specific needs,” said Mike English, executive director of Turn the Page KC, which works to improve reading proficiency for children in grade three. “This is a breakthrough moment for creating the most positive future for our Kansas City students.”
“Nonprofits and schools each play a crucial role in serving our students, but historically they have operated in silos,” said Kristin Nimsger, CEO of Social Solutions. “We’re excited to connect local program organizations and school districts to provide real-time analysis and insights, to drive program referrals at the point of need and to help them collaborate better for optimal outcomes for all students.”
The Ballmer Group investment in Social Solutions Global is funding the development of software solutions that can integrate social service agencies, schools, and community-based nonprofits with state-of-the-art privacy protections for children and families. Additionally, matching grants will be provided to other Kansas City organizations across the public and nonprofit sectors who are seeking to leverage the power of technology to achieve common goals. To find out if an organization qualifies for these matching grants, or to learn more about Social Solutions’ Apricot 360 solution visit: https://www.socialsolutions.com/software/apricot-360/.
About Social Solutions Global
Social Solutions Global, the provider of Efforts to Outcomes (ETO®) and Apricot® Software, specializes in outcomes management software for human services, workforce, and education programs. Across the globe, our software is the leader in equipping thousands of organizations with the tools needed to transform the lives of children, adults, and families by making data useful to staff at all levels, from case managers to executive leadership. Follow us on Twitter: @SocialSolutions.
About Ballmer Group
Ballmer Group works to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. It supports the use of data and strong partnerships among public, private, and nonprofit organizations at the community level to more effectively serve families. Ballmer Group was co-founded by philanthropist and civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, founder of USAFacts, and chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers. Twitter: @BallmerGroup.
KKR Global Impact Makes Second Investment
Press Release – MUMBAI — February 11, 2019 — Global investment firm KKR and Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (“REEL” or the “Company”), a leading provider of environmental services and solutions in India and overseas, today announced the completion of their previously announced transaction. Under the terms of the transaction, KKR has acquired a 60% stake in REEL for approximately US$510 million via a combination of primary and secondary investments. In addition to investing in REEL from its KKR Asian Fund III, the investment is part of KKR’s Global Impact strategy, which is focused on identifying and investing behind businesses with positive social or environmental impact that measurably contribute solutions to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
M. Goutham Reddy, Managing Director & CEO of REEL, said, “India is home to some of the world’s most pressing waste management needs, and REEL has an important role to play in providing critical solutions to communities across the country. KKR’s expertise in environmental issue management, extensive global and local resources, and aligned vision to enact positive change makes KKR the ideal partner to help us keep pace with the environmental challenges facing our society and provide impactful solutions. We are off to a great start with multiple strong hires added to the management team and process enhancements work to better our ESG efforts.”
Rupen Jhaveri, Managing Director at KKR, added, “Supporting promising companies that offer solutions to global challenges in areas such as the environment, health and human capital has become an increasingly important focus for KKR worldwide. REEL is exemplary in being a comprehensive environmental management company whose work supports the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission to reduce pollution and improve critical sanitation infrastructure nationwide. We are confident that, with our industry experience and resources, REEL will be better positioned to achieve its social mission over the long term.”
Robert Antablin and Ken Mehlman, Co-Heads of KKR Global Impact, said, “Responsibly managing waste is a critical global challenge, particularly in one of the world’s fastest growing nations. We believe REEL will address this critical need while advancing two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Over the last decade, KKR has been a leader in driving and protecting value throughout the firm’s private markets portfolio through thoughtful Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) management, as well as measuring and reporting on performance to the public and investors. The firm also has a history of investing in businesses that promote sustainable solutions to societal challenges. This experience of responsible investment combined with a changing landscape of global challenges led to KKR’s decision to create a dedicated Global Impact business in 2018. KKR’s Impact strategy and investment in REEL will build on this experience.
Leading Impact Investing Platform Analyzes S&P 500 to Identify Companies that Support Heart Health
Press Release – SAN FRANCISCO(Feb. 7, 2019) – OpenInvest, the first digital investment advisor for socially responsible investing, announced today that it launched the first-ever “Heart-Healthy” investment cause, which allows any investor to align their assets with companies that are fighting the leading cause of death in the United States: heart disease.
One out of every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease, while every 40 seconds someone suffers a heart attack. To combat this epidemic, OpenInvest created an easy way for individuals and institutions to invest in those companies dedicated to reducing the number of heart-related deaths. The company screened the S&P 500 and identified those companies that do not support the American Heart Association’s Guidelines on Healthy Living. The new investing portfolio will allow individuals and institutions to invest in companies offering cardiology medicines and devices, as well as those promoting healthy living through exercise. Simultaneously, the new investing category divests an investor’s portfolio from companies whose products aggravate or lead to heart disease, such as tobacco, alcohol, soda, sugary snack companies, meat processors and fast food chains.
“At OpenInvest, we want to ensure that everyone’s finances truly reflect their personal values and drive positive social change,” said Joshua Levin, co-founder and chief strategy officer, OpenInvest. “Everyone seems to know someone who has or had heart disease. This new investing category encourages companies to join the battle against coronary illness and stop profiting from the epidemic.”
OpenInvest’s platform delivers customized investment portfolios aligned with the most important, topical environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues facing people today. In addition to its “Heart Healthy” investing category, OpenInvest offers a number of causes that allow investors to further customize their portfolios based on their values. These include divestment from fossil fuel and carbon emission producers; investment in gender equality and LGBTQ companies; supporting refugees, and many others. The platform’s proprietary algorithms automatically rebalance portfolios to keep them diversified, as investors divest/invest.
Mirador Capital Partners LP, a registered investment advisor that manages $300M in assets for individuals, foundations and 401K plans, has selected OpenInvest’s technology platform to help construct and execute values-based portfolios for their clients.
“OpenInvest’s flexibility in developing portfolios that reflect our clients’ specific values is a differentiator,” said Adrian Jones, EVP at Mirador. “As a heart attack survivor myself, I know I’m not alone in my desire to take the fight to this killer. Iapproached OpenInvest with a heart-healthy portfolio concept and I am pleased to see that they are now making this value set as an option on their platform. We look forward to offering it to our clients and my heart-healthy network.”
For more information on OpenInvest, please visit https://openinvest.com.
OpenInvest (https://openinvest.com) is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and a financial technology startup dedicated to mainstreaming values-based investing through technology. The company was founded by two of the architects of Bridgewater Associates’ portfolio management and trading systems and a sustainable finance expert from the World Wildlife Fund. OpenInvest is backed by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Andreessen Horowitz, YCombinator, and QED, the founders of CapitalOne. OpenInvest now has a team of financial, technology, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts across three continents and is recognized as a global thought leader in ESG implementation. OpenInvest’s technology platform supports full customization around investor values, in-depth impact reporting, dynamic divest-invest activity, and easy shareholder engagement, while ensuring investors tightly track specified market indices. To get started, contact your advisor, visit openinvest.com, or download the iOS or Android app. Follow OpenInvest on Facebook and Twitter.
The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University collaborate to create a shared framework to guide best practices in the Opportunity Zones market
Press Release – NEW YORK, NY, February 6, 2019 — The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance (“USIIA”) and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University (“Beeck Center”) today released a set of principles and a detailed impact measurement framework to help guide the development of the Opportunity Zones market.
The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, a voluntary guideline, is designed to define best practices for Opportunity Fund managers seeking to invest in designated Opportunity Zones around the country. Market participants will be encouraged to abide by these best practices and to proactively share how and where they will deploy capital as part of a collaborative effort to build the market and maintain a focus on the policy’s original purpose: achieving positive economic and social outcomes in distressed communities.
The effort to develop a shared understanding of how to measure impact in Opportunity Zones was identified as a key next step by participants in a July 2018 roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The concept was socialized in October 2018 during a convening of real estate developers and investors hosted by the Beeck Center and was further refined in December 2018 during USIIA-hosted roundtable discussions with venture capital firms and leading wealth management platforms. Building on those meetings, the co-authors worked with a broad array of industry leaders, including investors, asset managers, academics, policy experts and community stakeholders, who all contributed to developing the principles and measurement framework. These contributors include individuals from: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Economic Innovation Group, the Urban Institute, Sorenson Impact Center, Rockefeller Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) and several leading wealth management platforms.
“Opportunity Zones represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to spur private investment into America’s distressed communities. However, in order for us to achieve the transformational impact we hope for, such as equitable growth and economic opportunity, it is important that those entering this market remain committed to transparency and community engagement,” said Fran Seegull, Executive Director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance.
“The only way we will know if the Opportunity Zones policy is effective is by continuously measuring and proactively evaluating the long-term outcomes,” said Lisa Hall, Fellow in Residence at the Beeck Center. “To truly be successful, we should see measurable evidence of social and economic benefits that accrue to the people who live and work in the Opportunity Zones. This framework is meant to guide investors, fund managers and community stakeholders to make sure that they are contributing to that shared goal.”
The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework includes five core principles for Opportunity Fund stakeholders:
The Reporting Framework builds upon these principles with a core set of criteria that can be deployed across a range of investment types. Examples of these criteria include the size of the fund, the investment focus (e.g., affordable housing, small businesses, etc.) and the amount of impact generated (e.g., jobs created, new businesses formed, affordable housing created or preserved, etc.). It further seeks to help articulate how stakeholders collectively can define and measure the long-term outcomes, like educational attainment or economic mobility, of Opportunity Fund investments.
“We strongly believe that continued community engagement can lead to both better investment decisions for investors and better outcomes for the residents of these Opportunity Zones. We hope that this framework can serve as a useful tool for local leaders and community groups as they think about how best to engage with Opportunity Funds, and we hope that fund managers will likewise be welcoming and receptive of these local champions,” said Jennifer Collins, Fellow in Residence at the Beeck Center.
“In order for the Opportunity Zones market to function, we need a shared framework to monitor, measure and report on both financial and impact data. This data will show us where capital is flowing and how that capital is being used, thereby revealing where there are structural barriers and where there are opportunities. A shared commitment to transparency will help create a more efficient market and ensure that capital flows to the areas—and the people—that need it most,” said Seegull.
The Opportunity Zones policy was passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The policy allows individuals and businesses to defer the taxes on their unrealized capital gains by reinvesting the capital into Opportunity Zones, which are low-income communities located around the country. More than 8,700 Opportunity Zones have been chosen by state governors and certified by the Treasury Department.
To learn more about the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, please go to www.OZframework.org.
Development of the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework is made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation and Kresge Foundation.
About the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance
The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance is a field-building organization committed to raising awareness of impact investing in the United States, fostering deployment of impact capital across asset classes, and working with stakeholders, including government, to help build the impact investing ecosystem. Its vision is to catalyze a movement that will transform finance by putting measurable social, economic and environmental impact, alongside risk and financial return, at the core of investment decisions. For more information, please visit www.impinvalliance.org.
About the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University
The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation is an experiential hub at Georgetown University that trains students and incubates scalable, leading edge ideas for social change. We believe impact at scale requires the courage to think and behave differently. Our work centers on re-defining incentive structures and aligning them to improved outcomes for individuals and society. We equip future global leaders with the mindset to promote outcome-driven solutions, using the tools of finance, data, and civic voice. We convene actors across the public, private, and civic sectors to advance new tools, frameworks, and approaches necessary to achieve these outcomes. For more information, please visit http://beeckcenter.georgetown.edu/
Top Investors Back Technology Innovator Tackling the World’s Water Challenges
Press Release – SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. – February 5, 2019 – KETOS, a water intelligence innovator, today announced it has closed a $9 million Series A round of financing from a powerful collection of traditional venture capitalists, impact investors and industry leaders. New investors Broadway Angels and Plum Alley Ventures, as well as strategic angels from water.org, the semiconductor industry and an investor represented by Energy Innovation joined existing investors Rethink Impact and Better Ventures in the round. Offering the first comprehensive water intelligence platform, KETOS will use the funding to expand its team and drive the emergence of a new era of water efficiency and safety.
“Clean, safe water is essential. However, a host of activities—including fracking, mining, landfills, pollution, runoff, excess pesticides and fertilizers—are potential dangers to our water resources. Leapfrogging the incomplete and fragmented water testing and monitoring technologies of the past, KETOS will help ensure we can meet water safety needs and standards,” stated Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation, an energy and environmental policy firm.
Led by CEO Meena Sankaran, an accomplished technology executive and business leader, KETOS is building a safer, more efficient water management system by delivering actionable, real-time water monitoring and analytics. With this funding, KETOS will accelerate global market penetration of its award-winning, patented sensors and machine-learning analytics platform purpose-built for mission-critical applications across water-intensive sectors.
“Water is both the most powerful and most important compound on earth, and access to clean water is fundamental to health, education and economic development,” stated Tony Stayner, an active investor in clean water initiatives and Pacific Institute and Water.org Board Member. “Bringing novel scientific and technological advances into every pipe and grid within our evolving water infrastructure, KETOS is the future of a clean, sustainable global water system.”
KETOS offers the first fully comprehensive smart water management platform:
The KETOS water intelligence platform can detect 20+ parameters as direct measurements at precision levels expected in labs and has analyzed over one million water quality tests across more than one million gallons of water with 130+ deployments in India, Mexico and the United States. KETOS empowers its users to improve water management and take action in real time to reduce costs, minimize leaks and ensure water quality. In initial deployments, KETOS drastically reduced water-testing costs – saving millions of dollars per water treatment plant and reducing the cost of water sample testing by 90 percent – while providing accurate, real-time monitoring for lead, copper, nitrates, arsenic, chlorine, and more.
“The first step is to measure and understand what is actually in our water at any given moment – it might sound simple, but it is incredibly challenging, and water testing solutions have been unable to give the full picture for decades,” noted Sankaran. “Water intelligence that immediately reveals the presence of hazardous toxins, delivers actionable warnings for live decision making while providing proactive metrics and insights is the foundation for smart water management. Our secure cloud-based solution empowers our customers, from industrial and agriculture to civic and commercial, with the water data they need to effectively measure, control and optimize our most precious resource … water.”
Energy Innovation’s Veery Maxwell will join Rethink Impact’s Heidi Patel on the KETOS Board to help the company aggressively scale.
“Breakthroughs in data analytics and remote sensor technologies allow us to reimagine how to manage, protect and treat our water supply,” added Patel, Partner at Rethink Impact. “KETOS will reshape the global water supply as it increases efficiencies, reduces risk and improves sustainability—providing incredible benefits for its commercial customers and the planet.”
KETOS serves an array of industrial and agricultural enterprises, commercial businesses, and institutions for which water plays a critical role. Learn more about KETOS and its effective smart water management solutions here.
KETOS provides the tools and insights needed to optimize water usage, ensure resource efficiency and provide water safety assurance – all via affordable and accessible tools. Its innovative, patented hardware and intelligent, interactive software fabric provides predictive and actionable metrics through data analytics – delivering the water intelligence needed for smart irrigation, industries and cities. Learn more at www.ketos.co.