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News & Events | 28 May 2013 | Oklahoma, Jobs, Accelerating Innovation, and Markets for Good

May 28, 2013

In case you missed it…

Our guidance on how to help after a disaster: Oklahoma Tornado: How Can I Help?.

Phases of Effective Philanthropic Support

Jobs: Open Positions and Steve’s Widow, Laurene

Analyst/Social Impact Fellow at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy: We are still hiring for a 12-18 month fellowship position. The ideal candidates are early career professionals who show extraordinary promise as emerging social sector leaders and are interested in honing their ability to conduct social impact analysis to identify which private, philanthropic strategies offer the best bang for buck. More details can be found on our website and you can apply on the Penn Job Board using Reference #130334261.

Director of Thought Leadership at Fidelity Charitable: Fidelity Charitable is looking for a Director of Thought Leadership, a leader who is responsible for creating and packaging timely and relevant messaging and other communications to various audiences such as media, industry analysts, stakeholders, clients, and prospects. More details can be found here. Please contact Betsy Sheldon for more information: (603)791-1240, betsy.sheldon@fmr.com.

Steve Jobs’s Widow Steps Onto Philanthropic Stage: The New York Times shows how Laurene Jobs is transitioning into a more public role as a philanthropist and leader for change in areas such as education, conservation, immigration, and nutrition.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation Is Key To The Success Of 21st Century Philanthropy: This Forbes article highlights the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100-year anniversary and its plans to incorporate innovation into future philanthropic strategies.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa: The Omidyar Network has partnered with the Monitor Group for a recently released report which identifies the challenges and opportunities for high-impact entrepreneurship in Africa. An interesting observation in “The Way Forward” section—a matrix summary of recommendations shows only one opportunity for Impact Investing.

Markets for Good

Why Markets For Good may go wrong: David Bonbright, chief executive of Keystone Accountability, tells Alliance Magazine about the early days of his involvement in Markets for Good as well as “the inconvenient truth” about its current state.

Oklahoma Tornado: How Can I Help?

May 22, 2013

On Monday, May 20th a tornado hit the area of Moore, Oklahoma, bringing winds of over 190 miles per hour and a path of destruction estimated at 20 miles long and 2 miles wide. Schools, homes, and businesses have been destroyed. It may still be too early to report the total number of people killed, though as of today, two dozen are confirmed dead. Over 200 have been reported injured so far. President Obama has declared the area a federal disaster, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials have been dispatched, and members of the Oklahoma City police force are assisting with rescue efforts.

For donors who want to help, here is what you need to know:

All disasters, whether natural or man-made, involve different phases of relief and recovery.

Phases of Effective Philanthropic Support

Search & Rescue and Immediate Relief Phase

Support First Responders Through Financial Contributions (NOT donated products or volunteering): In Oklahoma, we are still in the first phase where the emphasis is on search and rescue efforts and addressing the immediate needs of survivors. This can be difficult, often specialized work that requires experience in previous disaster situations and a high level of coordination. Although many donors may be moved to volunteer or to donate items such as food, clothes, or blankets, such well-intentioned efforts are often not helpful. They can actually complicate relief efforts by adding an additional burden of securing warehouse space or managing non-critical volunteers. Instead, you can best help by providing financial donations to first-responder nonprofits. Such donations allow first responders to  get what is needed faster and more cost-effectively and to respond flexibly as needs on the ground change.

The following are first-responder nonprofits working on the ground in the affected area:

  • The American Red Cross/Oklahoma Red Cross is currently operating a shelter in Moore and continues to operate three shelters in Oklahoma City as the threat of further tornadoes continues. Red Cross volunteers are providing food and supplies to search and rescue first responders, who are still making their way through the wreckage. Kitchen support trailers have also been placed to provide meals to those who have lost their homes. People who wish to make a donation can support the American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter, and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma by:
  • The Salvation Army is organizing disaster response units in the area and sending mobile kitchens than can serve meals to 2,500 people a day. Here are three ways to donate:
    • Donate at their website.
    • Text STORM to 80888 (to make a $10 donation).
    • Send a check with the memo “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157.
  • Feeding America, with its network of more than 200 food banks, is preparing to deliver truckloads of food, water, and other supplies to Moore. Their efforts help support first responders like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, a Feeding America member food bank, is coordinating food boxes to help affected residents and is strongly discouraging donating items.
  • Save the Children has deployed its Child Friendly Space kits to local shelters and is preparing to deploy infant and toddler hygiene materials to support families with small children. As we discussed in our analysis of the healing classrooms model, implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), creating child-friendly places that serve as oases of normalcy are critical for children and families in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.

Short to Long-Term Recovery Phases

Consider donating to a relief fund to help beyond the initial, immediate relief phases: The hard work of disaster relief goes far beyond the search/rescue and immediate relief phases. While the media and donor attention is on the immediate need, local organizations are raising funds to be deployed once the initial search and rescue efforts are completed. Such funds are important because the community need far outlasts media and donor attention spans. Two examples of such funds:

  • United Way of Central Oklahoma is activating a disaster relief fund today so that individuals can specifically donate to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts. Fund dollars will be distributed without administrative fees to United Way Partner Agencies working on the tornado relief efforts. Donations can be made the following ways:
    • Give on their website.
    • Send checks with the memo “May Tornado Relief” directly to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK , 73101.
    • For more information, contact Karla Bradshaw at kbradshaw@unitedwayokc.org.
  • Tulsa Community Foundation, the nation’s largest community foundation, has established the Moore & Shawnee Tornado Relief Fund. This fund has already received a lead gift of $100,000 from George Kaiser Family Foundation. Contributions to the Moore & Shawnee Tornado Relief Fund can be made:
    • securely online via their website
    • via checks mailed to Tulsa Community Foundation offices at 7030 South Yale Avenue, Suite 600, Tulsa, OK, 74136

“Building Back Better”: Know that needs will evolve and change

Many donors are drawn by immediate needs. Addressing urgent issues—such as medical care, food, and emergency shelter for survivors—is essential. However, many of the highest impact opportunities may come from “building back better” and prevention and mitigation efforts such as expanding safe shelter in areas prone to such natural disasters. As the Center for Disaster Philanthropy points out, effective disaster philanthropy often requires sustained attention to the evolving needs of the affected community. In other words, it requires knowing that while the headlines may fade, the opportunity for you to have impact does not.

News & Events | 20 May 2013 | Investments in Africa, Health & Agriculture, Generous U at Penn, Giving Pledge

May 20, 2013

In case you missed it…

Last week, we profiled the latest investments in Philadelphia by the GreenLight Fund and also said our farewells to the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 2013.

Our founding executive director, Kat Rosqueta, is quoted in The Wall Street Journal’s The New Science of Giving. The article features the work of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and touches on topics such as “Moneyball” and “high input” giving, as well as the “cockiness” required for practicing high impact philanthropy.

Investments in Africa

At the recent Milken Institute Global Conference, the final session focused on African investment with messages of partnerships and taking care of employees as part of a smart investment that leads to economic and community development. The video is provided below.

Coors-Led Fund Joins Carlyle in African Private Equity Deals: This article in Bloomberg highlights an alternative perspective that philanthropy isn’t needed in africa as it doesn’t work for economic development.

Introducing the Baseline Profitability Index: Daniel Altman’s first publishing of the Baseline Profitability Index (BPI)—which includes six African countries in the top 20—just before this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa.

Where Private School Is Not a Privilege: In Fixes, Tina Rosenberg wrote about the BRAC educational model, which originated in Bangladesh but has also been employed in parts of Africa. This is the first of a two-part series, which will also profile Bridge International Academies, another (but very different) educational model being implemented in Africa that also has shown positive results.

Stop the Plunder of Africa: In a cautionary piece regarding types of investment, this Op-Ed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan argues that the exploitation of natural resources in Africa has not, in fact, contributed to broad-based growth and development.

Community Health & International Agriculture

How A Florida Medical School Cares For Communities In Need: NPR shows how Florida International University medical school’s NeighborhoodHELP program delivers impact by meeting clients where they are, with solutions such as mobile clinics and food pantries. Other similar types of high impact approaches can be found here and here.

Bill Gates: Agricultural Productivity Is Key to Reducing World Poverty: Bill Gates believes that investments in agriculture are a model for success. We agree. See our “Sustainable Agriculture” solution from our guidance in Haiti: How Can I Help?.

Generous U at Penn

University of Pennsylvania AMF Chapter Wins Generous U Grant!: The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University awarded $1,000 to a national, student-run Penn support group for those dealing with loss.

More Giving, More Pledging

Spanx Mogul Sara Blakely Becomes First Female Billionaire To Join Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge: The youngest female billionaire in the world, whose current giving is geared towards women and girls, has recently joined eight others in the Giving Pledge.

Scaling Community Impact: Q&A with GreenLight Philadelphia

May 15, 2013

This April, the GreenLight Fund selected its first two organizations to help expand to Philadelphia – Single Stop USA and Year Up. GreenLight’s model, which began in Boston in 2004, is designed to identify key local needs in the cities where it operates, and then look nationally to find organizations with unique track records of success addressing the same issues in other cities. Once selected, GreenLight funds and supports the organization to get started in the community and rapidly scale. GreenLight has its roots in the entrepreneurial and venture capital sectors, and runs a VC-style diligence, selection, and portfolio support process designed to quickly help great organizations make impact in their cities. GreenLight launched its first expansion sites in the Bay Area and Philadelphia in 2012. We recently spoke to several people involved in the Philadelphia selection process:

Matt Joyce is the executive director of GreenLight Philadelphia.

The Center: Describe your process of identifying the issues and organizations that GreenLight ultimately decided to focus on – particularly starting in a new city.

mattjoyceMJ: We began by putting together an outstanding selection advisory council (SAC) last spring to help provide key insights on issues and opportunities to focus on in Philadelphia and guide our selection process. The SAC has representation from private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors and gives us a diverse set of perspectives on the city. With the SAC’s help, we looked at research and data on Philadelphia and talked to dozens of leaders to understand where people believed there was room for new ideas and innovation. Ultimately, we landed on older youth – and particularly college persistence and connections to the workforce. These are both areas where the right programs can leverage some of the great resources that already exist within our colleges and employers in the city and help make sure talented young people have the support to complete their education and transition into meaningful jobs.

Year Up_MG_0197_CR2 SingleStop 2

Images provided by Year Up (left) and Single Stop USA (right).

The Center: Can you tell us about Single Stop and its model?

MJ: Single Stop is designed to leverage existing resources to help students persist in community college. Thirty-two percent of Philadelphia high school students that enter college enroll at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). It’s a critical resource for the city, and its capacity to support students in persisting through college is key to fostering an educated, talented workforce in Philadelphia.

There are many challenges facing community college students that make it difficult to persist through school, but according to a study by MDRC, a primary driver is finances. In a random assignment study, MDRC found that students who were provided an average additional income of $1,133 per year (up to $2,000) re-enrolled the next semester at rates 30% higher than their peers.

Single Stop has built an innovative model, partnering with community colleges to help students obtain the financial resources necessary to persist through college. The program supplements student income by connecting them with tax credits, benefits, and supports for which the students are already eligible. Single Stop has found that by combining technology, enrollment support, tax preparation, and counseling, it has been able to help students access an average of nearly $2,000 per year to help ease the financial burden of post-secondary education; in doing so, it has helped increase persistence rates at 15 colleges across seven states. We believe that Single Stop can match— and even improve upon— that success in Philadelphia. They have built an outstanding partnership with CCP, which will help them quickly integrate and grow, and the model fit squarely within the Mayor’s goal to double to number of Philadelphia residents with a college degree.

Image provided by Single Stop.

Image provided by Single Stop.

The Center: Can you also talk about Year Up’s model?

MJ: Year Up has been a national leader in preparing disconnected young adults for career-trajectory work for over a decade. The organization’s model is a one-year intensive training program, including six months of curriculum and a six-month internship that is designed to give low-income young people the marketable skills and opportunities necessary to move into the middle class. The demand for this work is clearly present in Philadelphia, and we believe that Year Up can be uniquely successful here for several reasons:

  • Year Up has national partnerships with hundreds of employers across the country. Many of these partners have a major presence or headquarters in Philadelphia – including businesses like Comcast and Bank of America.
  • Year Up plans for aggressive growth in Philadelphia. This growth is possible because of a unique revenue model that relies minimally on philanthropic income after the initial growth period. At maturity, Year Up’s income comes primarily from the employers, who pay the program to host trained interns. In addition, Year Up partners with two-year colleges to provide the hard skills training, which defrays its costs and ensures that students leave the program with stackable credit toward an associate’s degree.
  • Year Up has produced some of the strongest evaluation results in its field. The organization recently completed a randomized control trial, revealing that its students earned 30% more than comparable students outside the program. Year Up’s work in Philadelphia presents an additional opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of this work on a larger scale.
Image provided by Year Up.

Image provided by Year Up.

Josh Kopelman is the Managing Partner at First Round Capital and the Co-Chair of GreenLight Philadelphia’s selection advisory council.

The Center: Why did you decide to get involved with GreenLight?

JoshJK: GreenLight resonates closely with my commitment to improving the culture of innovation in Philadelphia. First Round Capital has maintained its headquarters in Greater Philadelphia since our founding – and recently moved into the city itself. While we are based in Philly, we consider and support companies from across the country and internationally. This broad focus allows us to invest in what we believe to be the best new ventures that meet key market demands. The GreenLight Fund believes the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors should not operate any differently.

The organizations we selected in this cycle share several common traits – strong use of data and evaluation, business models that combine resources from a variety of sectors to support growth and sustainability, the capacity to attract national funding and talent to Philadelphia, and track records of successfully implementing their programs in multiple cities. The presence of these organizations has the potential to move the entire sector toward better measurement of performance and more ambitious goals for growth.

Anna Guarneri is with the William Penn Foundation and a member of the selection advisory council.

The Center: Tell us about William Penn’s involvement with GreenLight.  How does this model connect with the Foundation’s work?

anna_GuarneriAG: William Penn made a founding investment in GreenLight Philadelphia in 2011. We were initially interested in GreenLight’s ability to build local capacity to implement evidence-based models from around the country.  It’s been exciting to watch them advance that agenda through investments in Single Stop and Year Up, two great organizations that will support low-income students on their path to success.  We have also been excited by GreenLight’s ability to bring new financial resources to the table in Philadelphia – through their national corporate relationships and the federal Social Innovation Fund and locally through their growing base of entrepreneurial donors.  We believe that it is important to build support beyond traditional philanthropy and the public sector to address the critical needs of our young people, and to engage organizations with successful track records in addressing those needs.

Farah Jimenez is the President and CEO of People’s Emergency Center and a member of the SAC.

The Center: From the perspective of a nonprofit leader and innovator in Philadelphia, how do you view GreenLight’s model?

jimenez_farah_web_7812FJ: It’s one thing to build an organization that can serve a community.  It’s quite another to build an organization that can serve a nation.  GreenLight invests in nonprofits that not only demonstrate localized impact, but also evidence an ability to scale their programs so as to help solve problems in other communities – communities like Philadelphia.  I was really impressed by all the applicants we evaluated as part of the selection process.  And I couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Year Up and Single Stop to Philadelphia.  Both groups are filling real needs, delivering social innovation, and building upon – rather than duplicating – efforts already being made by great local nonprofits.  As a resident, I look forward to the impact they will deliver to Philadelphia.  And, as a nonprofit CEO, I look forward to learning from these high-performing national nonprofits.


For donors and others who are interested in the GreenLight approach and want to learn more or get involved:

GreenLight has three locations in the United States: Boston, San Francisco Bay Area, and Philadelphia. There are opportunities to join its selection advisory council as well as local boards of its portfolio organizations. To learn more about getting involved in Philadelphia, contact Matt Joyce (mjoyce@greenlightfund.org). To learn more about getting involved nationally, contact Sarah Lassonde (slassonde@greenlightfund.org).

Graduating Impact: Seven years of preparing emerging leaders

May 13, 2013
Image source: University of Pennsylvania

Image source: University of Pennsylvania

Monday, May 13, 2013 marks the University of Pennsylvania’s 257th Commencement. Each year our team  at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy goes through the transition of saying farewell to another graduating class of remarkable students, while we welcome another incoming class of talent.

Given our university home, and that we have three faculty members on our team, we hold a unique position to drive social change. Through undergraduate and graduate coursework, advising student practicums and independent projects, and research assistant roles and internships, we strengthen the field overall by preparing the next generation of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders. Now in our seventh year, we continue to strengthen our mission of maximizing the social impact of philanthropy by teaching and graduating impact.

Many of our Center alumni—or “CHIP’s Off the Block”—have gone off to places such as Google, McKinsey & Company, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Arabella Advisors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Broad Foundation, Planned Parenthood, JHPIEGO, medical and law school and other PhD programs, as well as even started their own enterprises. Included below are the voices of social change as they describe the lessons they’ve learned while working and learning at Penn.

An Emerging Nonprofit Leader

Balanced Scorecards have become the most important management tool that my organization has gained. They have provided us with the ability to assess our performance effectively and create realistic goals for our future while also helping us create a unilateral, cohesive goal for our organization.- Catherine Peralta, Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership candidate, Penn School of Social Policy & Practice

“CHIP’s” Off The Block

Working at the Center has helped me recognize the importance of working for an impact-conscious company. Even if I don’t go into the nonprofit world, I want to be a part of an organization that cares about making a difference for others. – Mallory Suede, Penn School of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2013

At the Center, I really learned to be part of a team. I’d done group projects before—dozens of them—but none where the project required sustained effort over a full year, or where the people involved were so committed to seeing it through. I was lucky to gain frequent feedback on my project (mostly from people at the Center, but also from partners and Penn faculty), and I learned how to incorporate that feedback, as well as derive clear direction from often diverse opinions. That ability to synthesize input and information will, I am sure, serve me well in the future.- Eesha Sardesai, Penn School of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2013

A year after graduating, I am now in China as a Fulbright Scholar studying programs for autistic and intellectually disabled adolescents and adults. Researching global health and development at the Center taught me what questions to ask when assessing different models of providing these services, especially in regards to sustainability, scalability, and maximizing social impact. These are frameworks I use everyday in my research and I will always be grateful for all that I learned from my motivated and inspiring mentors and teammates at the Center.- Meghan Hussey, Fulbright Scholar, Penn School of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2012

Working at the Center taught me to always have impact and potential innovations on my mind. Now that I’m in medical school, I am involved with our free student-run clinic for uninsured individuals and am doing research on a visiting doctors program for homebound patients. I constantly think about how the impact of such community health initiatives can be assessed, with the end goal of improving access to and quality of care for underserved populations. The Center instilled in me the drive to keep evaluating and improving programs.- Masha Jones, Penn School of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2011. (See Masha’s blog on The Impact of Food Access.)

The most salient practical lesson I learned during my time with the Center is how to think about the relationships and inherent tensions between funders, providers, and recipients, and how to think about what impact means for each of these groups. This lesson helps me in my current work on the evaluation of educational aid programs because I am more familiar with the interrelationships among these three stakeholder groups. I can now navigate these nuances, facilitate information sharing, and ensure that the specific needs and concerns of the three groups are adequately represented in the evaluation.- Katherine Summers, PhD Candidate, Florida State University, formerly of Penn Graduate School of Education, co-author of Haiti: How Can I Help?

The Center taught me the fundamentals of high quality research, which have held me in good stead in my current economic consulting job, and will continue to do so as I start business school this year. I learned to synthesize and distill key points from large amounts of qualitative information, as well as focus on the numbers, while being mindful of the caveats and biases. I also learned to leave no avenue unexplored when searching for information. Additionally, I learned to present my research in a manner relevant to my audience.- Sagar Shah, Wharton Class of 2010

Leader Mothers: Drivers of Community Change

May 9, 2013
Image source: Food for the Hungry Care Group Video

Image source: Food for the Hungry Care Group Video

This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the role that mothers play, not only in their households but also as cornerstones of their communities and drivers of change.

For example, in the Care Group approach, mothers are empowered to be community health leaders in their villages. Elected by their peers, these “Leader Mothers” are trained to promote important healthy behaviors by visiting and teaching other mothers in their neighborhood. Health messages target critical—though often neglected—health behaviors such as breast feeding, hand washing, oral rehydration therapy for diarrheal illness, and other forms of preventive care such as sleeping under bed nets to prevent malaria. Care Groups are currently being implemented by 24 non-profit organizations in 21 countries in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Stay tuned for our full case study to be released next month on our website as part of a donor toolkit.

Community and village health workers play important roles in the United States and abroad. They provide health education and other essential—even life saving—treatments and health services to their friends, family, and neighbors. There are numerous examples of how community health workers (many of whom are also moms) work with mothers in programs run by BRAC, Nurse-Family Partnership, and JHPIEGO.

Photo by Darcy Kiefel. Image provided by Fonkoze.��

Photo by Darcy Kiefel. Image provided by Fonkoze.

The Impact of Investing in Mothers

Investment in programs for mothers not only improves the welfare of moms but also advances the livelihood of their families and communities. Here are a few examples of such investments:

  • Lowered maternal mortality and improved child survival: Programs that provide prenatal care and safe deliveries to pregnant women result in fewer annual maternal deaths due to pregnancy complications, as well as fewer infant deaths.
  • Increase in food and housing security and child schooling opportunities: Programs that provide women and mothers with productive physical assets, skills, confidence and social networks, shelter, a stipend, and access to healthcare “graduate” them into more income-earning activities that enable them to sustain themselves and their families.

Celebrate the Impact of Mothers on Mother’s Day!

Image provided by World Relief.

Image provided by World Relief.

News & Events | 6 May 2013 | Lipman Prize, Deadlines for Funding Impact, Alumni Weekend, Investments and Intrigue, Oh My!

May 6, 2013

In case you missed it…

The Promise and Power of Networks: Highlights from the Second Annual 100Kin10 Summit: Find out how networks of individuals and organizations are working together to recruit and retain 100,000 teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Charity can’t fill holes in aid to poor: The Philadelphia Inquirer focuses on hunger and poverty—specifically access to SNAP (food stamp) benefits—and cites a number of individuals and organizations (including ours) working on these issues.

And the 2013 Lipman Family Prize Winner is…READ Global! Two weeks ago, the Barry & Marie Lipman Award and Prize of $100,000 was awarded to READ Global for their economic growth and education work in rural areas of Bhutan, India, and Nepal. Read more here, watch a short video, and visit the Lipman Prize website for details on this program.

What’s Going On?

PA_image-business eitc ostcFor donors and businesses interested in going beyond grants to fund social impact, the dates for applying to the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) or the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) programs are approaching.

  • Returning donors to either program can renew applications beginning May 15, 2013.
  • New donors can apply as early as July 1, 2013.
  • To begin the application process, you can register and create a username and password to apply at: https://www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/Login.aspx.

Penn Alumna and vice president of Encore.org, Marci Alboher, is speaking at the Penn Bookstore this Sat 5/11 from 3-4:30pm for Penn Alumni Weekend about her new book, The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. Learn more about Encore Careers from our recent blog on social entrepreneurship after the age of 60.

This week kicks off “Education Week” on the TED website along with a TED Talks Education special on PBS tomorrow (Tue 5/7, 10pm ET) with host John Legend, and other speakers such as Bill Gates, Penn’s Angela Lee Duckworth, and Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada.

Investments and Intrigue

China commits billions in aid to Africa as part of charm offensive: Regardless of China’s rationale for involvement, the fact that it has committed $75 billion over the last decade in aid and development to Africa has implications for donors. But until recently, due to very limited release of detail from the Chinese government, the programmatic implications were hazy. However, the launch of a new public database—Aid Data—provides donors with an improved opportunity to think about leverage regarding health, education, and cultural projects. On the journey to sustainable Impact Investing, laying the foundations of trust and engagement at a local level is part of the “critical path”.

High Stakes Donor Collaborations: This Stanford Social Innovation Review spring philanthropy piece profiles “high stakes collaboratives” (i.e., efforts where there is a multi-year vision around which donors pool talent, resources, and decision-making). The article contains a helpful “Advice from the Front Lines” section which distills a few practical insights that donors should consider when a “go it alone” strategy is less likely to yield the desired impact.

“What’s the impact of one pink dress?” asks Jacob Lief, Penn alum and co-founder and President of the Ubuntu Education Fund, in a Devex article from last November. Lief questions the real meaning behind terms like “impact investment” and “cost-effectiveness” and argues for the importance of investing in long-term outcomes while avoiding the trap of meaningless heuristics.

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