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After a little more than a decade and considerable achievements, Ashoka Social Financial Services (SFS) decided it was time to redefine success. 

As the pace of change is accelerating exponentially, we all face a new set of historic opportunities, and SFS believes success requires trying to live up to the historic moment. 

This short piece describes how this new definition of success led SFS to question its assumptions and eventually move away from social business, social enterprise and impact investing and towards a new approach called Economic Architecture.

This piece also introduces the basic motivation behind Economic Architecture and suggests that it has the potential to harness the power of the whole market to improve the character and quality of people’s lives. And it indicates how SFS will continue to develop the idea going forward.

When I recently returned to full-time leadership of Ashoka’s Social Financial Services program, I had the opportunity to take a fresh look at our work.

Our program was just over one decade old. In that time, we have identified and supported dozens of leading social entrepreneurs, many of whom have become points of reference in the emerging social finance space, and have collectively impacted over 50 million people. We have also worked to pioneer new financing vehicles and created innovative partnerships that have mobilized over half $1 billion. By many measures, including those we had set for ourselves, Ashoka Social Financial Services was a success. But we realized it was time for us to change our definition of success.

We are living in a time defined by change. As the rate of change accelerates exponentially, it creates historic opportunities to address long-standing problems and a dire urgency to act now. Success, we believe, requires trying to live up to this historic moment. And that means being willing to question everything we’ve done and starting over. So we wound down our existing program and challenged ourselves to develop a new approach. 

We started with a focus on the market, because we believe the market is the most powerful tool we have to improve the quality and character of people’s lives. As a result, we believe success requires harnessing the power of the market effectively to create impact. The question for us was: How?

We have learned many lessons on how to do this from social business, social enterprise and impact investing, but ultimately we decided we needed to move away from each of these approaches because they are inherently limited by their focus on the small portion of the market that is not solely motivated by the pursuit of profit. 

Success requires pushing beyond this limitation and seeking to engage all of the market, regardless of people’s motivations. To gain a clearer understanding of what this would require, we needed to also better understand of what we were trying to create, i.e., how does the market create impact, and how we could shift the market so more of that happened?

As we looked across the sector, we found that many initiatives reflect a traditional view according to which creating wealth is the primary means by which the market improves people's lives. 

It's not a surprise then that these initiatives tended to focus on enhancing the market’s ability to create wealth. And their approaches tend to fall into one or more of four broad categories. They ask:

  1. How can we stimulate the creation of wealth (Growth)?
  2. How can we increase the number of people participating in the creation of wealth (Access)?
  3. How can we make sure people are obeying the rules (Enforcement)? 
  4. How can we compensate those who have not benefited from the wealth creation (Redistribution)?

In contrast, as we looked at the work of leading social entrepreneurs on the ground around the world, a different view of the market started to come into focus. On this view, the market is the largest coordinating mechanism in society. It is the mechanism we use to decide what is important, who is going to do what, and to what extent each person will benefit. 

This suggests a very different set of evaluative and remedial questions. For example:

  • Does the market place value on things that are actually valuable? How do we change what the market values?
  • Does the market allocate people’s time, talents and ability to their highest and best purposes? How do we change where the market allocates people’s time, talent and abilities?
  • Does the market provide benefits appropriately? How do we change the way the market provides benefits?

Cumulatively, this suggests a very different approach to harnessing the power of the market. This is not like working with social enterprises, where the focus is on creating and growing organizations to increase the number of people impacted as it scales. Nor is it like impact investing where the focus is on creating deals or new kinds of financing mechanisms. This suggests that success requires designing innovations that change the structure of the market, using its role as a coordinating mechanism to create impact.

With this goal clearly in view, we began to incubate a new Social Financial Services program based on a new approach we called Economic Architecture. Economic Architecture focuses on structural innovations that harness the power of the market to improve the quality and character of people’s lives. Once we started to realize the importance of this approach, we started to recognize examples within Ashoka’s global Fellowship of over 3,000 social entrepreneurs in over 80 countries around the world.

For example, the emergence of effective certification regimes such as FairTrade, Fairtrasa and Canopy’s Ancient Forest Friendly initiative are all illustrations of structural innovations. Instead of starting companies that employed better labor and/or environmental processes, each of these social entrepreneurs created a certification that conveyed a premium for other market participants who adopted better practices. They effectively changed what the market valued, and as a result they are changing the pattern of activity in the marketplace.

When Joaquim de Melo created Banco Palmas to stimulate economic growth in Fortaleza, he created a structural innovation. Rather than merely creating a social enterprise that offered local jobs, he created a new currency that offered preferential prices for those shopping locally. This created incentives for consumers and retailers and changed the pattern of activity across the market.

When Gautam Bharadwaj created IIMPS to create a pension system for informal workers, he was creating a structural innovation. Rather than merely creating a financial firm that offers pensions, he enabled the pension system to effectively expand to incorporate a large number of people it had previously excluded, and changed the pattern of activity in the marketplace.

There are dozens of other examples like these. They arise in industries as varied as financial services, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, energy and others. They are beginning to appear in geographies across the world from South East Asia, to Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America. They are effective in emerging markets and developed markets.

Each of these innovations creates tremendous leverage. Understanding their effectiveness requires looking beyond the size of their organizations to the extent of the market transactions that they’ve influenced.

We are now approaching a critical mass of these innovations so we can begin to move beyond understanding individual examples to understanding this approach for engaging the market. Specifically, as we develop the practice of Economic Architecture, we seek to understand which issues can best be addressed by structural innovations, in which contexts are they most likely to be effective and how do we design them most effectively.

To this end we have begun to create partnerships with academics and academic institutions to develop a conceptual framework for Economic Architecture and design principles for developing structural innovations.

While this work is still in its early stages, we are encouraged by its ability to engage all of the market, not merely those who are not solely motivated by the pursuit of profit. And we are encouraged by the fact that structural innovations create impact by changing the pattern of activity in the market in ways that go far beyond merely creating wealth.

Our new Social Financial Services program is in its early days. We will continue to submit our focus on Economic Architecture to rigorous testing. Success will not only require that it enables us to identify and create innovations that address historic opportunities, but also that we are able to codify this approach so that it can be taken up and improved by others.

Author Bio
Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka’s Social Financial Services (SFS) globally. To date, Ashoka SFS has supported dozens of pioneering Social Investment Entrepreneurs and mobilized over $500 million in funding. Earlier in his career, Stuart was Managing Partner of a New York-based consultancy and has taught at New York University and the London School of Economics. Stuart received a PhD from the London School of Economics, a Master’s degree from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. To connect with Stuart, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @StuartYasgur on Twitter.


Investors’ Circle (IC) is the largest and most active early-stage impact investing network, with a mission to facilitate investment in for-profit entrepreneurial companies that are addressing social or environmental challenges. Our common purpose at IC is to invest in entrepreneurial enterprises that offer the opportunity to make reasonable investment returns while promoting the growth of businesses that are making a positive difference in the world. IC Philadelphia is the oldest and largest local network, and has been a leader and model for the IC local network expansion. IC investors have the dual priority of measuring social impact as well as direct return on investment. 

Do you think your investments should be able to make a reasonable return and make the world a better place? Welcome to Investors’ Circle.

Investors’ Circle (IC) is the largest and most active early-stage impact investing network, with a mission to facilitate investment in for-profit entrepreneurial companies that are addressing social or environmental challenges. The national organization cultivates a network of accredited investors, including individual angel investors, funds, foundations, and family offices; attracts and vets for-profit impact enterprises; and provides a support infrastructure bringing investors and entrepreneurs together to facilitate investment. 

Our common purpose at IC is to invest in entrepreneurial enterprises that offer the opportunity to make reasonable investment returns while promoting the growth of businesses that are making a positive difference in the world. We do not specialize in any particular area of social impact and have backed companies that generate benefits across a wide spectrum of social needs, from education to environment, to health and to economic development for disadvantaged communities or populations. Since 1992, the network has invested over $200 million in more than 330 enterprises. 

The growth of IC local networks over the past five years has been an important development, as relationships are critical to social enterprise acceleration. Trusting relationships with customers and the community, employees, and investors can make a significant difference in a company’s success. These relationships help the entrepreneur ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the product or service, refine the business model, and access customers and other resources required to grow the company’s impact. The local network model means IC members are available for mentoring and networking in addition to fundraising. Depending on the size of an investment and how much of it that IC is raising, IC generally will look for some participation in governance, either as a board director or board observer. Often, when a deal looks too early for broad IC participation, interested IC members might offer some seed funding and mentoring to help an entrepreneur move through to a more investable stage of development. 

With over 40 members, IC Philadelphia is the oldest and largest local network, and has been a leader and model for the IC local network expansion. The IC Philadelphia network consists of individuals investing their own money, as well as some foundations and private investment funds. IC Philadelphia has invested over $4 million into 19 companies over the last five years. 

So how does it all actually work? How does an entrepreneur access IC network investment capital? Entrepreneurs apply online, providing basic information on their business and investment opportunity. The IC staff and Selection Committee members review the “deals,” inviting the most promising opportunities to “pitch” to the network. Companies located in a local network region may be invited to present at a local network meeting, and all companies are considered for semi-annual venture fairs featuring the best-in-class enterprises from around the country and the world.  

In Philadelphia, the local network meets monthly and usually selects two entrepreneurs to make short presentations on their market opportunity, business model, financial projections and investment return potential. An important aspect of this initial presentation is a description and ideally a quantification of the company’s social impact. After a question and answer period, the entrepreneur leaves and the IC membership discusses the opportunity, taking care to start with positive aspects as well as concerns.  The purpose of this initial presentation is to spark enough interest around the table—both in terms of numbers of IC members interested as well as total potential dollar investment—to warrant an in-depth due diligence effort by a subgroup of the IC membership. 

If the consensus is to move forward, a due diligence committee is formed, of generally three to five people, whose task it is to follow up with the entrepreneur and others as needed to validate the business assumptions, reference check the leadership and generally build a case for investment. The due diligence team must make a formal recommendation back to the group within 60 days. If the due diligence work substantiates the business and investment opportunity, it is expected that the IC members who expressed interest will then follow through with the investment at the dollar level they indicated. We try to be very respectful of the time entrepreneurs have to spend away from running their businesses to fundraise. Hence, we work to make our process as quick as we can and, if we are moving forward with an investment, aim to deliver a meaningful combined investment from the IC group. 

Finding companies that fit our social impact model is a key component of our investment philosophy. To that end, we are piloting a social impact model developed by a fellow Philadelphia organization, Good Company Ventures, which allows angel investors to benchmark the social return of companies across sectors using dollars as a common denominator, helping them determine where their investments at the early stage will bear the largest social return. We want to be able to measure both the potential for positive societal outcomes as well as downstream to an investment, the actual resulting impacts.

Some examples of businesses that the IC Philadelphia local network has invested in over the last couple of years include:

ULTRA Testing:

ULTRA provides high-quality, highly responsive software testing services for top-tier digital agencies, software development firms and enterprise clients. The company achieves impact through its workforce model. ULTRA delivers consistently superior results through exceptional teams that are made up primarily of individuals with Asperger Syndrome and similar autism spectrum profiles. These individuals can have heightened abilities like pattern recognition and logical reasoning that make them particularly well-suited to perform quality assurance for digital sites and systems. However, they also have poor social sensibilities, which make it difficult for them to successfully navigate through typical job interview processes, resulting in an 80 percent unemployment rate despite high functioning skillsets. Over time, ULTRA aims to expand its offerings beyond quality assurance testing to analytics and artificial intelligence, and from U.S. firms to global enterprises. They aspire to become the largest employer of talent on the autism spectrum in the world while proving the commercial success of impact businesses. 


Despite $89 billion and 90 hours per teacher spent, professional development in the teaching profession is rated unproductive by 70 percent of teachers. States and districts spend millions of dollars on academic courses that are disconnected from the realities of classrooms. KickUp is a peer-to-peer matching and collaboration platform that allows teachers to earn professional learning credit for seeking and providing mentorship from and to other teachers. In addition to live, personalized instructional support for teachers, KickUp’s data analytics tools provide K-12 school districts with the means to measure and improve the efficacy of their professional learning initiatives. Additionally, the platform provides all these benefits at a fraction of the cost of other professional development solutions. 

KickUp was selected for the fall 2015 class of Imagine K-12, an EdTech accelerator in San Francisco, where they focused on validating and adjusting their product to market fit. This resulted in an enhanced analytics dashboard targeted to help district administrators better measure their professional development outcomes. The team returned to Philadelphia in 2016 and is making steady progress with their commercial rollout.

Wash Cycle Laundry:

Wash Cycle Laundry provides fast, cost-competitive and sustainable inner city laundry service while creating upwardly mobile job opportunities for returning citizens, including formerly homeless, incarcerated, or welfare-dependent adults. The company won the 2014 Blackstone Launchpad competition in New York, in recognition of its innovative and capital-efficient business model that utilizes bikes to provide efficient, non-polluting, intra-city pick-up and delivery of laundry. 

IC Philadelphia members invested initially in 2014 to support the company’s growth in Philadelphia, and brought in IC members beyond Philadelphia to invest with them in a follow-on round in 2015 to fund expansion of the company to Washington, D.C. A foundation member of IC has also provided an expansion loan with an innovative, adjustable rate debt instrument with interest decreasing with targeted job creation. The company has now created over 50 jobs, with over 50 percent of those filled by returning citizens. They have hauled more than 4 million pounds of cargo and saved more than 1 million gallons of water using their high-efficiency machines.

Membership in Investors’ Circle provides access to quality deal flow and an experienced network of people committed to putting their capital to work to support positive social outcomes while generating positive investment returns. We welcome guests to our meetings who are interested in exploring membership. If you are interested, please contact IC’s Director of Business Development, Jill Newbold, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Author bios
Leigh Wood has been a member of IC Philadelphia since 2013 and serves on the Investment Committee of two of the Patient Capital Collaborative funds. She has extensive operational experience managing both startups and high growth communications businesses. Her career has included stints as Chief Operating Officer of NTL Inc., the largest cable company in the UK. NTL, now part of Virgin Media, is a full service telecommunications company offering telephone, cable, Internet and broadband services to consumers and businesses across the UK and Ireland. Prior to NTL, Leigh was CEO for Cellular One of Ohio and Michigan, now owned by Verizon Wireless. More recently, Leigh was an investor, Board member, COO and CFO of RealWinWin Inc., a Philadelphia based startup which captures energy efficiency incentives for large corporate customers.
Bonny Moellenbrock is the Executive Director of Investors’ Circle, the largest and most active early-stage impact investing network in the world. Since 1992, IC has propelled over $200 million into 330+ for-profit enterprises dedicated to improving the environment, education, health, and community.  Bonny brings extensive entrepreneurial, venture capital, sustainable business, and nonprofit management experience to her role. Previously, Bonny was a Managing Director at SJF Ventures, a leading impact venture fund investing in high-growth, positive impact companies in the cleantech, sustainability, and technology-enhanced services sectors. Before joining SFJ in 2000, she served as COO and CFO of Preservation North Carolina, a nonproft that promotes historic preservation and protects properties through its award-winning endangered properties acquisition and redevelopment program. She also served as VP of Administration for Orange Recycling Services, an entrepreneurial commercial recycling company. Bonny serves on the GIIRS Developed Markets Standards Advisory Council, the Advisory Board of AMCREF Community Capital, and the Board of the CAHEC Capital Loan Fund. Bonny holds an MBA, a Masters of Regional Planning, and a BA in Environmental Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute. She enjoys gardening and making music with her family at their historic bungalow in Durham, NC.  

“We have this history of impossible solutions for insoluble problems.”

– Will Eisner

According to the most recent Census, 6-7 percent of people in America live in deep poverty.1 In Philadelphia, more than 12 percent of people live in deep poverty. A family of four living in deep poverty takes in approximately $12,000 per year.

These statistics are powerful, but they obscure the true cost—the human cost—of poverty. Every day, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza sees upwards of 100 homeless people receive free food. We rarely have incidents of trouble, as our homeless visitors understand they have to act respectfully and appropriately to continue to receive free pizza. On one snowy day in February, an older man, a regular, friendly homeless visitor, came to the counter to inform us that a homeless woman was taking a lot of napkins. They started arguing and we gave them the option to settle down or leave. 

The woman turned to me and pleaded to be left alone. She said something that I will never forget. “I’m a homeless woman,” she said. “I need napkins. What’s the big deal? It’s none of his business.” I thought it was strange to reference her gender, but I let it pass. The group left Rosa’s continuing to argue. Halfway down the street a fight broke out between the two. The woman’s boyfriend got involved, pulled the hood over the head of the older man and started punching him. Fortunately, the police were in the area and quickly broke up the fight. No one was hurt.

But it got me thinking, what happened to incite such violence? A couple days later, I asked the woman’s boyfriend if everything was okay. What did she need so many napkins for? He said that at night, on the street, there was no toilet paper, so she needed napkins.

In other words, this fight broke about over a few pennies’ worth of toilet paper.

When a person is mired in deep poverty, his focus is on basic survival, on scraping by. Adults in deep poverty have access to few resources to improve their lives and are often forced to sacrifice the opportunity for long-term improvement in favor of immediate returns. Children raised in deep poverty are simply not afforded basic opportunities such as decent healthcare and a useful education. The lack of such opportunities hinders their development and restricts them for the rest of their lives. Without basic knowledge or resources they are condemned to perpetuate this cycle of poverty.

To truly end this cycle, we as a country must do our part. We must continue along our history of innovation. Today, I want to make the case for Rosa’s seemingly impossible solution to be implemented across the country for the insoluble problem of eradicating hunger. 

We currently rely on a strange patchwork of government and nonprofit organizations to provide much-needed resources to those in desperate need. It is better than nothing, but it is grossly insufficient. To truly eliminate deep poverty—to elevate those affected by deep poverty to a more productive position in society—for-profit businesses have to step up, like Rosa’s has done, and afford people in need access to the products and services they produce.

Our program has met with a very positive reception because it is one of the most efficient solutions for alleviating hunger. There are no additional administrative expenses. Just as we use a cash register and a computer to account for and analyze our sales and performance of our business, we use it to track the pay-it-forward program. There are no additional distribution expenses. Homeless people are visiting our restaurant for the food when they are nearby; we do not transport the food or the recipients elsewhere. There is no additional investment in capital equipment or extra ongoing expenses; we simply use assets and resources already employed in the restaurant’s daily activities.

Our pay-it-forward program is also extremely effective. It might be one of the most effective means of feeding people in need. We have little food waste because we only make food as needed for both paying customers and homeless visitors. We never speculate on volume and thus never find ourselves with too much or too little food. Lastly, recipients rarely abuse our charity. Our pizza cannot be converted to cash for nefarious purposes. Because we give one slice at a time, but allow unlimited visits, our program feeds even the hungriest visitors but cannot be abused by those looking to quickly get away with a lot of free food. In short, it is difficult for the recipients of donations to make bad decisions and to pervert the intentions our charity.

Our pay-it-forward program succeeds because it is easy for customers or donors to participate. This crucial aspect of our work stems from the program’s efficiency and efficacy. This high level of customer participation is replicable across a myriad of industries that address basic needs. Thus, the infrastructure for “charitable capitalism” already exists. To me, that is a great source of hope.

For instance, what if the CVS down the street from Rosa’s adopted a program similar to our pay-it-forward program? I speak with a lot of homeless in the area. It should come as no surprise that when many of them have nothing, and have nothing to lose, they steal. CVS is an easy, faceless corporation they can target without guilt. They steal items from CVS either for their own use, or to sell them for pennies on the dollar. These crimes of poverty are pathetic, but sadly they are common throughout America.

Rosa’s offers a solution. We see a great deal of homeless people come through our doors, yet our rate of theft is extremely low. Furthermore, Rosa’s is actually helping the homeless with each visit while simultaneously making a profit. What if CVS had a menu of inexpensive items—items that cost between $0.25-$2.00 like toothbrushes, soap, Band-Aids, snacks, toilet paper—that paying customers could donate money towards? Similar to Rosa’s experience, I think low-priced retailers would see much higher sales, lower theft, increased brand image and profitability.

The concept is applicable to clothing retailers, as well, especially ones selling affordable clothes such as a thrift store like Buffalo Exchange or a large discount chain like Target or Walmart. These businesses sell a ton of warm clothing for winter as well as basic necessities like underwear and socks at some of the lowest prices in the country. Furthermore, they have locations across the nation, some in close proximity to large numbers of people in need. Again, the infrastructure for the distribution of these items and the relationships with paying customers and potential donors already exists. It would simply be a matter of implementing a pay-it-forward program on their current internal systems and developing a menu of basic necessities for presale to current customers.

Furthermore, incorporating a social cause in a business motivates employees and results in a more constructive atmosphere. Employees of socially conscious businesses have more of a purpose at work. They arrive at their job and, not only do they make money, but they also have a role in positively impacting the community. At Rosa’s it is an impact they see every day. Moreover, employees that are more dedicated to their company have a more positive attitude and improve the experience for the paying customers, no matter what specific business.

Of course, many existing, established organizations might be skeptical. If they adopt this program to their business, will they meet with the same success as we have? Will it generate the same publicity for them as it has for us? Probably not on the same scale. So where’s the incentive? The objective here shouldn’t be for them to duplicate our business model. That doesn’t make sense. They have found success with their own methods and their own procedures. The implementation of our program will not instantly revolutionize their business or create some dramatic shift. But it would improve sales, reduce theft, and inspire more dedication from their workforce.

Over the past two years, I have been moved by the innumerable acts of anonymous kindness I see every day at Rosa’s, but I am also distressed by the massive amount of poverty depressing Philadelphia and other cities throughout America. I think efforts similar to Rosa’s pay-it-forward program can be worked into business models throughout the country and I encourage business and industry leaders to consider employing similar programs in their work. 

Will Eisner once said, “We have this history of impossible solutions for insoluble problems.” It’s true, but I think it may discourage some. For me, every week that passes at Rosa’s confirms the inherent goodness—the strength and the kindness, the ingenuity and the endurance—that we have found to reside in all of humanity. I want to remind everyone that these solutions only seem impossible in the moment. Right now, these problems only seem insoluble.

I want to close with a quote from The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton. It was the epigraph to the final chapter in Smallpox: The Death of a Disease, a book by D. A. Henderson detailing the amazing work done by the World Health Organization to eliminate smallpox, an effort that has saved millions of lives. Burton writes, “When a thing has been done, people think it easy; when the road is made, they forget how rough the way used to be.”

If more businesses implement the programs that Rosa’s currently employs, we will all look back on today with no real memory of how rough our way used to be.


1. Alfred Lubrano, “Phila. Rates Highest Among Top 10 Cities for Deep Poverty,” Philadelphia Inquirer, updated September 25, 2014,

Author bio:
Philadelphia native, Mason Wartman returned to his hometown from working in Manhattan in 2013 to start Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a pizza shop modeled after the $1 slice joints he admired in NYC. Opening and managing a pizza shop was a dramatic change from his daily routine of formatting reports and crunching numbers on Wall Street as an associate at a young equity research company. Several months into operation, a customer asked to pre-purchase a slice of pizza for one of the many homeless people that Rosa’s served. Mason liked the idea and made the pay-it-forward program a prominent part of his business model. Since that first slice, Rosa’s now feeds about 100 homeless people every day and has expanded to sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, gloves and socks to support the neighborhood’s homeless population. Mason attended high school at Germantown Academy and went on to get a Bachelor of Sciences in Business Administration with a concentration in finance at Babson College.


While impact investing is not a new phenomenon, due to a variety of influences it is now reaching a new level of visibility and influence, drawing new entrants and being established in the mainstream of investment practices. Impact investing, however evolved from its earliest days, remains nascent and difficult to assess with real clarity, with the real definition of “impact” yet to be established. For those investors with the willingness and capacity to engage in impact investing, it is ultimately more rewarding and necessary in our quest for a sustainable economy.

Impact investing, defined by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) as “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return,”1 is not new. With origins in faith-based and socially responsible investment screening, the South African divestment movement, and community development financial institutions in the last century, impact investing is now reaching a new level of visibility and influence. 

This investing approach experienced a watershed moment in 2007 when the term “impact investing” was coined at a meeting hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation. The subsequent 2009 Monitor Institute report, “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact: A Design for Catalyzing and Emerging Industry,” assessed the state of the field, and a roadmap for building the industry.2 As noted in Figure 1, in 2009 the industry was deemed to be emerging from a state of “uncoordinated innovation,” and entering into the “marketplace building” phase, where investments in infrastructure help to support more efficient activity. The report suggested that with the support of such efforts, the industry could reach the “value capture” phase in five to ten years, characterized by mainstream entrants into the marketplace, higher volumes of activity, and increasing specialization. Seven years later we are indeed seeing signs of industry progress. 

Figure 1: Monitor Institute’s 2009 Industry Status Assessment

Source: Monitor Institute, “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact: A Design for Catalyzing and Emerging Industry,” January 2009.

Mainstream entrants

Still seen as a “fringe” approach ten years ago, with nonprofits and boutique firms leading the work, the last several years have been notable in the increase of mainstream entrants into the industry. Most major financial institutions now have impact investing groups in addition to their traditional CRA-driven community development finance teams. In 2015, Goldman Sachs acquired Imprint Capital Advisors, an impact investing-focused asset management firm.3 In August of 2016, Bain Capital launched its Double Impact Fund, led by Governor Deval Patrick, to invest in mission-driven middle-market companies addressing sustainability, health and wellness, and community building themes.4

The entrance of these mainstream players indicates that they are experiencing client demand and perceiving growing investment opportunities in the space. A critical element driving this evolution is the rising influence of women and millennials on the capital markets. Women control more than $20 trillion in consumer spending,5 and over the next 30 years $30 trillion in assets will be transferred to the next generation. These demographic shifts are significant, as both women and millennials are more likely to want their investments to reflect their values and do not perceive that wealth-building and positive community impact must be bifurcated.6,7 

Another critical factor encouraging new entrants is the alleviation of regulatory concerns held by pension fund and foundation asset managers that constrained their engagement in impact investing. In October 2015, the Department of Labor issued new guidance stating that, “all other factors being equal it’s perfectly acceptable for ERISA plan fiduciaries to consider the social impact of their investments.”8 In April of 2016, the Department of the Treasury issued new guidance for foundations on program-related investing that helped to alleviate perceived excise tax risks associated with making impact investments.9 Both of these announcements should help to lower the bar for pension fund and foundation capital. 

Higher volumes of activity

A comprehensive assessment of the market remains elusive, given its broad geographic and sector reach, so we must rely on indicators. In 2010, J.P Morgan and GIIN began surveying active institutional impact investors to assess the state of the market. While its sample is limited, reviewing its findings over time is an interesting indicator of activity. In 2011, 52 impact investor respondents, all of whom had at least $25 million under management, reported that they planned to employ $3.8 billion in impact investments in the following year.10 In the most recent report, 157 impact investor respondents indicated they had committed $15.2 billion in 7,551 impact investments in 2015, and planned to increase their impact investment commitments by 16 percent to $17.7 billion and the number of deals by 55 percent to 11,722. In aggregate, these respondents are currently managing $77.4 billion in impact investment assets. 

While many investors still complain about “investable deal flow” in impact the above numbers indicate a positive trend, and Bain Capital’s entrance clearly indicates a comfort level with promising impact investing opportunities in the private equity space. Investors’ Circle, the early stage impact investing network that I lead, has experienced a 33 percent increase in early-stage company applications for investment, and the number of deals funded through national events has increased over the past five years from 30 to 50 percent of pitching companies, indicating an increase in the quality of investment opportunities along with the quantity. 

Beyond the investment numbers, greater activity is also being seen in supporting fields. Social entrepreneurship has reached broader awareness, and business schools are incorporating social entrepreneurship and impact investing into their curricula and offerings to compete for students,11 as 88 percent of MBA students consider learning about social and environmental business to be a priority, according to Net Impact’s 2014 “Business as UNusual” survey.12 The number of social enterprise accelerators has also grown dramatically, with over 60 being identified at a trade group site.13 

Increasing specialization

With the increased overall activity and entrants has come increasing specialization. Organizations and firms have emerged to support different investor constituent categories, from asset managers to philanthropists and foundations to ultra high net worth individuals; or to focus on particular asset classes, geographies or impact areas. For entrepreneurs, most impact accelerator programs provide sector-specific cohorts or programming.14 The number of investment sectors reported in the annual GIIN survey has doubled to 14, as asset managers increasingly direct their investments to particular areas of interest. 

New themes and interest areas have developed in the past seven years as well. With the entrance of mainstream financial players, many have grown increasingly concerned that impact will be diluted or deemphasized, and underrepresented populations will be left behind. Interest has grown in “gender lens” investing, focused on investments’ impacts on the inclusion, engagement, empowerment and/or enhanced well-being of women and girls. Efforts to increase and ensure access to capital for underrepresented populations and to promote broader wealth-building impacts have also emerged.15, 16

What is next? 

Clearly the impact investing field has made progress towards “capturing the value of the marketplace.” Yet this stage remains fairly “noisy” and difficult to navigate, with some key questions impeding the market’s efficiency. 

A persistent challenge is the definition and measurement of “impact,” with its broad scope and cross-sector applicability. Some new entrants struggle to engage when they do not understand what impact is, some industry pioneers fear mainstreaming will dilute impact to the point of being meaningless, and others are concerned that too strict a definition will limit this marketplace’s influence, keeping it niche and limiting its transformative influence on business. 

This broad scope also impairs the ability to size and benchmark the market and returns. The market has a diversity of investment theses and return expectations, ranging from market-rate or above returns to concessionary returns in line with deep impact. More tools are needed to help new entrants assess the range of investment opportunities and returns available in their areas of impact interest.

Although sometimes frustrating, working through these market development challenges is a critical and worthy endeavor. In this age of greater customer expectation and transparency, it is folly to believe that one can grow a successful, long-term business oblivious to social and environmental externalities. Incorporating impact into one’s investment considerations is indeed a more complex approach, but it is ultimately more rewarding and necessary in our quest for a sustainable economy. 


1. “What You Need to Know About Impact Investing,” Global Impact Investing Network, accessed October 16, 2016,

2. “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact,” The Monitor Institute (January 2009), accessed October 16, 2016,

3. Michael J. Moore, “Goldman Sachs Agrees to Buy Asset Manager Imprint Capital,” Bloomberg (July 13, 2015), accessed October 16, 2016,

4. Chris Witkowsky, “Bain Launches Impact-Investing Fund Led by Ex-Gov. Patrick,” Buyouts (August 1, 2016), accessed October 16, 2016,

5. Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, “The Female Economy,” Harvard Business Review (September 2009), accessed October 16, 2016,

6. “Millennial Investors Want Their Wealth to Help Others, Lack Confidence Managing Finances,” SpectrumGroup, accessed October 16, 2016,

7. Jed Emerson and Lindsay Norcott, “Millennials Will Bring Impact Investing Mainstream,” Stanford Social Innovation Review (April 24, 2014), accessed October 16, 2016,

8. Bernice Napach, “DOL Clears Way for Impact Investing in Retirement Plans, ThinkAdvisor (October 22, 2015), accessed October 16, 2016,

9. May Harris and Linda Rosenthal, “Private Foundations: New Program-Related Investments Guidance,” For Purpose Law Group, accessed October 16, 2016,

10. “Insight into the Impact Investment Market: An In-Depth Analysis of Investor Perspectives and Over 2,200 Transactions,” J.P. Morgan (December 14, 2011), accessed October 16, 2016,

11. Jeanette Brown, “Social Impact and the MBA: Business Schools Where the Two are Synonymous,” Clear Admit (March 18, 2016), accessed October 16, 2016,

12. “Business as Unusual,” Net Impact, accessed October 16, 2016,

13. “Accelerating the Accelerators,”, accessed October 16, 2016,

14. Search Results, Enable Impact, accessed October 16, 2016,

15. Neighborhood Economics, accessed October 16, 2016,

16. Transform Finance, accessed October 16, 2016,

Author Bio
Bonny Moellenbrock is the Executive Director of both Investors’ Circle and SJF Institute and brings extensive entrepreneurial, venture capital, sustainable business, and nonprofit management experience to her role. Previously, Bonny was a Managing Director at SJF Ventures, a leading impact venture fund investing in high-growth, positive impact companies in the cleantech, sustainability, and technology-enhanced services sectors. Before joining SFJ in 2000, she served as COO and CFO of Preservation North Carolina, a nonproft that promotes historic preservation and protects properties through its award-winning endangered properties acquisition and redevelopment program. She also served as VP of Administration for Orange Recycling Services, an entrepreneurial commercial recycling company. Bonny serves on the GIIRS Developed Markets Standards Advisory Council, the Advisory Board of AMCREF Community Capital, and the Board of Trustees of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. Bonny holds an MBA, a Masters of Regional Planning, and a BA in Environmental Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute. She enjoys gardening and making music with her husband and two daughters at their historic bungalow in Durham, NC. 



With our publication's recent expansion, new readers (including for-profit executives who are considering switching careers to social enterprises) are looking to the SIJ for career insights. In this issue, we share the personal journey of Phil Black, a fast-tracked Harvard MBA who had to weigh a number of compelling, often conflicting variables in his career decision-making process.

With nonprofit employment and total annual wages’ steady growth each year from 2007 through 2012, even during the 2007–09 recession, the sector continues to attract new candidates.1 Ask any Baby Boomer about a potential encore career, and a common response is, "after I retire from my current job, I'd like to give back and join a nonprofit." But the key word is after, since financial obligations like mortgages, college tuition and 401k savings often take priority. So, what spurs an individual to plunge into a nonprofit before these other responsibilities are addressed? In this article, Phil Black,2 of the San Diego Fire Department and a 2002 graduate of the Harvard Business School (HBS), shares his personal journey. 

Q. A graduate from Yale and the Harvard Business School, a Navy Seal, and an investment banker with Goldman Sachs; somehow most people would assume that the next logical step would be with a private equity firm or a C-Suite position at a Fortune 500 company. What motivated you to become a fire fighter? 

A. A number of factors weighed into the equation. A long-term passion for service was catalyzed by the 9/11 tragedy; but frankly it was a struggle since financial concerns (new ones like a growing family at the time with the birth of twin sons and old ones like remaining debt from B-school) weighed on me. Also at the time, like many of my peers, I was on an achievement kick, trying to earn entrance and continuous success at some of the most coveted global organizations.  

Frankly, it was a typical Type-A and coveted track. I had worked at Goldman and returned there, and I could see how it could provide a very comfortable lifestyle for my entire family. Still, after one particularly long day at the office, my wife’s keen observation and her stated words of support that I should pursue what I really wanted in life enabled me to convert from an achievement to a fulfillment kick. By fulfillment, it means that while I do recognize what I’ve currently given up, like the $40 million that one of my HBS classmates has in his savings accounts, it’s realizing that what I pursue each day brings value to those who I serve as well as my family and me.  

Q. How were you able to convince the San Diego Fire Department to consider hiring you?

A. If you thought getting into Yale or HBS was challenging, the admittance rate for some fire departments is even less. And, yes, the career advice that your Bridgespan Group colleague once shared around how social enterprise entities are looking for candidates who value mission over money does indeed ring true. Moreover, just as I had been securing the typical tracked experiences for an HBS graduate in the private sector, my competition had been investing years for their candidacy as fire fighters. So the lessons learned as a Navy Seal around humility and the willingness to start from ground zero helped me to gain the right mindset and invest time to take courses and secure experiences so that I would be considered a competitive candidate, as well. Also, during the interviews, I had to explain how, despite having learned a number of situational leadership experiences in prior work assignments, if they considered me, I would not come in guns blazing with my private sector expertise. Rather, I would invest the time to earn the right to engage and propose ideas that were applicable to this very different work environment. 

Q. Given the education and mentoring that you received at some of the world's premier training grounds, what two leadership practices have you been able to effectively apply in your role as a fire fighter? 

A. First, preparation is crucial since the old adage of time means money is now amplified when time means saving lives. We have a lot of downtime when we are not on actual fire or medical responses, but that doesn’t mean we sit around all day. We are in constant preparation mode to ensure that we are ready to answer the call when it comes. There are endless skills and capabilities that we are responsible for, and preparation is key to keep us well-tuned.

Second, perseverance is another trait that I strive to maintain and it’s a key leadership competency that defines many in my relatively new profession. After all, even with vigilant preparation, there are those unfortunate situations which do occur, and being able to bounce back afterwards is a true crucible for all of us. 


1. “Nonprofits in America: new research data on employment, wages, and establishments,” Bureau of Labor Statistics (February 2016),

2. Phil Black, LinkedIn Profile Page, accessed October 10, 2016,

Michael Wong has over 25 years of experience working directly for Apple, AstraZeneca, IBM, and Merck. His insights have been shared in the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review.

As someone who works in the software space, I know better than most how cliché it has become to say that we live in an app-based world. We all know instinctively, without reading it in some article, that we live in an age of instant data. We also understand that the accompanying transformations are huge in scale and in consequence. And yet, when it comes to social good enterprises, there is often a temptation to overlook harnessing mobile and web technology—either because it feels less tangible, more foreign, or more expensive than the next best alternative. Fortunately, software development has reached a point where applications, built in an understandable and transparent way, can produce real results at reasonable prices.

The first of those barriers, understanding, might be the most powerful. Many of the customers we work with aren’t sure what an app should cost, or what the development process looks like. Fortunately, there are myriad online pricing tools (my favorite is called Otreva) that can solve the cost question for you. They’re not perfect, but they’re a good start for ballpark estimates. Understanding the development process can be a bit harder, so I’ll do my best to explain the one part that is the most important.

The process is different at every firm, but it generally follows a simple pattern: understand the project needs, design the app or website to accomplish those needs, build the design, test the build, and launch and maintain the software. 

That last part of the process—not just launching, but maintaining what was launched—is almost always overlooked. This is always a major mistake, akin to buying a car but never getting a tune-up, or even changing the oil. It’s a quick way to ruin your investment.

Here’s why: Software doesn’t exist in a static world, where everything will work fine if it’s never touched after deployment. Web and mobile environments, the environments in which we experience and interact with social good software, are constantly changing. Just look at all the changes that have come with Apple’s iOS 10.

While these changes are usually a net-positive for users, they sometimes require updates and maintenance to keep existing projects online. Add in other factors like the cost of cloud storage (low but still not zero) and general best-practices like automatic backups, and you’ll see why a maintenance plan is a worthwhile investment.

Of course, just understanding the development process doesn’t make building an app obvious. Holding conferences, conventions, workshops, and similar events might seem like a stronger option. In some cases, these are effective ways to scale your message and reach a large number of people. Usually, though, your cost rises as you include more people in these events. An app, on the other hand, can be thought of as a fixed-price expense. As more and more people sign up to use your app, the cost per user decreases asymptotically. A conference or convention does not necessarily fit that curve. And such events are physically cumbersome. People have to travel to your city, take time off work, and manage logistical challenges like hotels and cars if your event is very big. 

A larger audience can also be reached remotely via an app, which, when coupled with the right marketing strategy, can be made to grow organically, saving you time and money to devote to other aspects of your work.

Speaking of money, let me talk about cost. When it comes to cost, the tumbling barriers of development time are making mobile and web apps cheaper and cheaper each year. As part of a social good endeavor, your team has a critical mission to accomplish, and you have to do it in limited time and under tight financial constraints. 

App development has always been synonymous with delays, overruns, and big budgets, or at least that was the case 5 years ago. Changes in today’s development stack—the group of programs developers use to build apps—have made project development and deployment quicker than ever. And when developers save time, they can concentrate on improving their product to deliver superior value, or simply produce a working version in a tighter timeframe.

In short, I hope this article has served as a primer for you when it comes to creating software for your social good endeavor. With the limited resources and critical mission you have, there is often a temptation to overlook apps. They’re not the be-all, end-all product you need to solve the world’s toughest problems. But they are an important tool in the toolkit you have at your disposal. If a web or mobile application fits into your vision of a better tomorrow, you need not be intimidated by confusion about process, scale, or cost.

Mike Young is the CEO of PearCircuit and an engineering graduate from Purdue University. Brendan Michaelsen is PearCircuit’s CTO, and also graduated from Purdue with a degree in engineering. The PearCircuit team – headquartered in Indianapolis – focuses on developing software that helps customers run stronger, more sustainable, and more flexible businesses and nonprofits. More information is available at


Social entrepreneurs play a critical role in bringing about much-needed solutions for pressing social problems. They are, by nature, ambitious, energetic, innovative, and action-oriented. Their success is critical, not just for their careers, but for society at large. Accordingly, we must do everything we can to equip them with the critical knowledge, skills, and ability to ensure that they succeed. From analyzing the landscape of social entrepreneurship education, we have found that top Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs offer different curricula for social entrepreneurship. MBA programs concentrate on ways to leverage market forces to solve social problems, while MPA programs aim to train social entrepreneurs who can bring about multi-sectoral solutions involving the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. We contend that social entrepreneurs need to know how to harness every resource that is available to them, no matter the source, and the curriculum needs to reflect this need.  

The need for effective solutions for social problems is great, as many Americans are still reeling from the negative impact of the Great Recession and the vicissitudes of a volatile global economy. Economic inequality is historically high, and most Americans no longer trust that established institutions will bring about necessary changes.1 Opinion polls show that 7 out of 10 Americans think that the country is going down the wrong track.2 

A new period of reform is clearly needed. However, in the current political and economic climate, the public administration reforms that worked in the past are unlikely to be enough to effect change today. The political divide at the federal level has rendered government at all levels paralyzed, while crossing the aisle to pass policy has become harder and ultimately less frequent. The current election cycle is doing nothing to break this trend, and will likely only further exacerbate an already tough situation.3 Moreover, fiscal constraints caused by the government’s heavy debt further prevent action and stifle creativity.4 With resources scarce, public administrators can’t afford to fully fund their current initiatives, let alone expend scarce dollars on new ideas. These realities taken together ultimately mean that government action alone will not be enough. A different kind of reformer is needed, one who seeks solutions across sectors, including public, private and everywhere in between. We contend that this different kind of reformer is, in fact, a social entrepreneur.

The concept of the social entrepreneur has been widely discussed in recent years, though no consensus has been reached on its definition.5 We decided to take an empirical approach to defining it. We analyzed how the top 25 MBA and MPA programs across the country define and describe their courses associated with social entrepreneurship.6 We found that, within our sample, MBA programs are more likely to offer courses on social entrepreneurship compared to MPA programs (See Table 1.) We also found that top MBA and MPA programs operationalize the concept of social entrepreneur with two distinct definitions: 

Definition #1: 

A social entrepreneur is an individual who applies market-based solutions to a social problem. Under this definition, a social entrepreneur would operate primarily outside the governmental sphere. She needs to know how to run a business and understand how to calculate social return on investment. 

Definition #2:

A social entrepreneur is an individual who can craft multi-sector solutions to solve social problems. This definition specifies that the social entrepreneur has a broader depth of knowledge than in the first definition. She must have competencies traditional to both the public and private sectors. She must be a Renaissance Man for the modern age, versed in analysis, policymaking, economics, and management, with a commitment to innovation and results. 

Figure 1. Differences in descriptions of social entrepreneurship courses 

MBA Programs                         MPA Programs

In most cases, MBA programs have adopted the first definition of social entrepreneur, while MPA programs have adopted the second. The differences between business and public administration program approaches are illustrated in Figure 1, a depiction of the 30 most frequently used words in descriptions of social entrepreneurship courses. 

According to these schematics, business courses place a larger emphasis on words relating to finance, investment and profit than public administration programs. In contrast, public administration programs more frequently discuss the public and nonprofit sectors, concepts that are missing entirely from the business school versions.

In their attempt to define social entrepreneur, Roger L. Martin and Sally Osberg contend that the definition should contain the following three components: 

  1. Identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own;
  2. Identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony; and
  3. Forging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.5

Using these components as a guide, we contend that the second definition is preferable to the first for three key reasons. First, no solution of a social problem can forge a stable equilibrium without public sector support. Enduring social reforms will undoubtedly require changes of some kind to existing government policies and practices. More importantly, having government support ensures that the public sector does not inadvertently impede the reform. Further, despite current fiscal constraints, the government is large. The federal government alone spent 38.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014.7 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government sector employs some 22,025,000 people, roughly 13.86 percent of the labor force.8 

Social entrepreneurs who ignore government are ignoring a significant portion of the labor force already primed to aid this work. Second, solutions that are supported by multiple sectors—public, nonprofit, and private—are more likely to last when compared to solutions from the private sector alone. Having a network of agencies supporting each other protects reforms from dissipating if a single company folds. Public, nonprofit, and private networks also have a better chance of effecting real change if their solutions become law, a process that needs the public sector. Third, many social problems don’t have a purely market-based solution. Social entrepreneurs must have some knowledge of how to operate within the public sphere if they want to accomplish their goals. 

Given the differences between business and public administration programs’ approaches to social entrepreneurship, we believe public administration programs are the natural home of courses to educate the new generation of social entrepreneurs. Public administration programs are uniquely situated to produce contextually aware, analytically-informed, and practically effective social entrepreneurs. It is our recommendation that all public administration programs adopt the necessary coursework to properly educate this new generation of reformers. 

The stakes are high. Social entrepreneurs have much work to do across multiple sectors. It is imperative that they are armed with the right collection of skills to ensure that their reforms are effective and lasting. With proper education, these new reformers will be primed to usher in the golden era of the social entrepreneur.


1. Chester A. Newland, “From Trust to Doubt: The Federal Government’s Tough Challenges,” in Public Administration Evolving: From Foundations to the Future, edited by Mary E. Guy and Marilyn M. Rubin (New York: Routledge, 2015).

2. RealClearPolitics, accessed October 16, 2016,

3. Gary C. Jacobson, Polarizaton, Gridlock, and Presidential Campaign Politics of 2016,” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 667, no. 1 (2016): 226-246, doi: 10.1177/0002716216658921. 

4. Newland, “From Trust to Doubt: The Federal Government’s Tough Challenges,” 59.

5. Roger L. Martin and Sally Osberg, “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring (2007): 29-39.

6. “Best Business Schools: Ranked in 2016,” U.S. News & World Report, accessed October 16, 2016,

7. “United States Government Spending to Gdp,” Trading Economics, accessed October 16, 2016,

8. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed October 16, 2016,

Nelson Lim
Nelson Lim joined the staff of Fels in August, 2015. Lim is a senior social scientist at RAND and professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School. During the last 15 years he has worked with local and federal government organizations including police and fire departments, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Administration on a wide range of policy issues. He also served as research director for the congressionally mandated Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which conducted a comprehensive assessment of policies that provide opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members and women in the Armed Forces. In addition, Lim is leading the development of the National Survey of Victim Service Organization (NSVSO), a national survey conducted by Bureau of Justice Statistics to systematically collect information from victim service providers. He has conducted studies of military recruiting and retention of active-duty as well as reserve components for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). He has also conducted research on the most effective diversity practices by Fortune 500 companies, and on barriers to improve diversity among the leadership of various government agencies and corporations, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Army, and USAF. Lim also led studies specifically designed to assist police departments, including the San Diego Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, in alleviating recruiting difficulties.
Lim earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is known as a student-centered mentor and career advisor, with research interests in social inequality, race/ethnicity, immigration, diversity management, research methodology, quantitative and qualitative methodology, manpower, and personnel analysis.
Samantha Sangenito
Samantha Sangenito is a second-year master’s student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Arts, Media and Communication from Lafayette College in 2012. Sangenito has worked at a public relations firm for nonprofits in Philadelphia and is currently employed by The ACEs Connection Network, a social network that accelerates the global movement toward recognizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior and health, and accordingly reforming communities and institutions. Her research interests include early childhood education, trauma and resilience, social inequality, and diversity in public management.

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