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Philanthropy

This category includes stories about philanthropy, typically covering the generosity of individuals, families, groups of individuals and foundations (nonprofits primarily in the business of funding other nonprofits.

Traci Johnson Kicks Off Campaign for Autism Inclusion


Former model Traci Lynn Johnson, wife of Tiki Barber, is making a difference for the autism nonprofit KultureCity. She’s leading the new campaign to help everyone understand that even though those with autism may struggle to use words to express love, they still do.

Traci says, “KC is launching a new national campaign called Love Without Words. This campaign is designed to show that while people with autism sometimes have difficulty demonstrating love verbally, it does not mean that they are not capable of love.”

Traci Johnson, courtesy of Kulture City

Traci Johnson, courtesy of Kulture City

“We have launched this campaign with different celebrities, influencers and companies,” she continues. “In this campaign, we are having these celebrities and influencers show how they demonstrate love on a daily basis without using words. We then have a call to action to ask everyone that we are reaching how they, too, show love without words. And of course, there is also a donation aspect as well.”

Traci notes that people with autism are often poorly understood. “We often face the challenge of people not realizing that children (and adults) with autism are a lot like able-bodied individuals, as well. People often think that just because someone has autism means that they don’t have feelings or emotions. This could not be further from the truth.”

The misunderstandings people have, lead to conscious and sometimes unintended discrimination, she says. “We live in a world where there is still racism, bigotry and discrimination and these feelings often are directed towards people with disabilities, such as autism.”

Traci approaches the campaign with optimism. She says, “Our success would further the goal of inclusion and social/cultural acceptance for those with autism. This is important because while a cure, treatment or reason for why autism occurs would be phenomenal, society as a whole, needs to learn how to accept people with autism until such a time that treatment may exist, because autism is not going away.”

On Thursday, November 17, 2016 at noon Eastern, Traci will join me here for a live discussion about the new campaign and its potential for impacting families with members with autism. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Traci Johnson and Tiki Barber, courtesy of Kulture City

Traci Johnson and Tiki Barber, courtesy of Kulture City

More about Kulture City:

Twitter: @kulturecity

Kulture City is the fastest growing autism non-profit in the country. KC’s mission is to gain autism acceptance in every community throughout the world. KC is striving to accomplish this by pushing boundaries and by changing the culture that is considered normal.

Traci’s bio:

Twitter: @traciljohnson

Traci Johnson, is the wife of Tiki Barber, mother of two little girls, Brooklyn and Teagan, philanthropist and marketing consultant. She graduated from Mount Saint Mary College and attended New York University for her Master’s Degree in Journalism.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Next Economy: Election Aftermath

By Garvin Jabusch

If you believe in the continuing evolution of the economy towards innovation-driven sustainability and economic coexistence with our fragile earth systems, then this has been a rough week.

So, what happened? We can cite a number of likely reasons behind Trump’s victory, but here are the ones that stood out to us.

  • First, people are extremely angry about the ever-widening economic and social inequality and inequity they have been experiencing the last couple decades, and they can see that the main beneficiaries of this inequality are never held accountable (only one banker jailed after 2008, for example).
  • Second, half of the nation – or 47% of the electorate anyway – has been convinced by an ideology that claims the best way to fight inequality is to pass policies that actually cause more inequality. Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money does an excellent job of explaining how this happened.

Unfortunately, this ideology has negative implications for the Next Economy. Next Economics at its core reflects the ongoing process of de-risking the global economy of its most serious long-term threats, those being the worst outcomes of climate change, resource scarcity, and widening inequality. The risk of inequality itself has now driven an election result that will slow progress on managing all real systemic risks.

We’ve always said that U.S. political risk is one of the scariest things about managing for the Next Economy, because so much policy and business is driven by the owners of legacy economy energies, utilities, transportation and so on. “The next president has questioned the science of climate change, vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement on global warming and pledging to stimulate production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel,” is how Bloomberg put it. Meanwhile, many of the world’s leading institutions (the World Economic Forum at Davos, for one) still cite climate change and the erosion of social cohesion as the most dangerous and pressing economic risks confronting the world. The global economy can, must and will rise to meet these challenges.

The transition to an economy based on businesses that are more efficient, less risky, and more profitable remains inevitable; and the realities of the global economy’s exposure to climate and social risks remain the same. Much of the world still understands this, and a Trump presidency will set back U.S. technological and political progress behind the rest of the world, at least temporarily. As Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance tweeted, “So this is interesting. I will continue to inform decision-makers about the world’s unstoppable transition to clean energy and transport.” Our economic evolution continues, but which nations and regions benefit first and most by taking advantage of the most incredible advances may now be an open question.

Critically as well, America’s most economically powerful states – led by New York and California – will continue to support sustainable technology and renewable energies in pursuit of greater economic growth. Indeed, we did see some bright spots the other night: Florida solar advocates celebrated a major win as voters rejected a utility-backed amendment to limit solar energy development. It is unlikely that wind energy in America will suffer much either: “Seventy percent of U.S. turbines are in low-income rural areas,” according to Bloomberg, saying, “Wind Is the New Corn for Struggling Farmers.” In fact, the five states generating the largest fraction of their electricity from wind all voted for Trump. The economic, health and other benefits of clean, renewable energies are winning despite political rhetoric.

We need to continue investing in the zero-risk economy, and we still stand to earn outsize returns as the Next Economy gains market share away from the legacy economy. The investment decisions affecting climate change we make collectively and globally in the next few years will reverberate for centuries and affect billions of people. A Trump presidency does nothing to change that.

In the long run, economics drive the future and policy follows, not the other way around. Coal isn’t in terminal decline for any reason other than it is no longer economically competitive; solar isn’t the fastest-growing energy source in the world because of the Paris Accords, but because it is incredibly economically competitive. No administration can change that. They can only make it more or less timely.

The road ahead may not be as smooth as we once imagined, but we still got this.

Garvin Jabusch is cofounder and chief investment officer of Green Alpha®Advisors, LLC. He is co-manager of the Shelton Green Alpha Fund (NEXTX), of the Green Alpha Next Economy Index, and of the Sierra Club Green Alpha Portfolio. He also authors the Sierra Club’s economics blog, “Green Alpha’s Next Economy.”

Your Guide To Impact Investing

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

For more than four years, I’ve been covering impact investing as a regular Forbes contributor and have written hundreds of pieces about the space. Here’s the thing: most impact investments are only open to wealthy people. This is a guide to impact investing for everyone else, the 98 percent of the population who don’t meet the criteria for investing with the wealthy.

Shall we pause for just a moment to define impact investing?

The term impact investing, I’ve realized, is new enough that even professional investors aren’t yet familiar with it, let alone the typical investor. Impact investing refers to the idea of investing in businesses that will cause a social benefit. Most liken it to philanthropy but with the added benefit of a financial return. An easy example is to consider my 2013 article about Vital Capital, which invested in a community Agribusiness, moderate income housing and a medical center in Angola. Charities also engage in providing food, housing and health care in Angola, but Vital Capital invests in those activities—earning high returns along the way.

The Securities and Exchange Commission requires that investors in certain investments be “accredited.” Although that word connotes a skill or knowledge-based screening, it is a simple test of income and/or assets. Investors with consistent personal income above $200,000 per year or a net worth, excluding a primary residence, of $1 million are considered accredited.

It is important to note that many impact investments are effectively open only to institutional investors and people or families of such high net worth that they invest at institutional scale.

This article is not for them. If you are a billionaire impact investor, you can stop reading now.

Great! Now that they’re gone, we can get down to brass tacks.

Chris Georgandellis, who runs Tree Town Investments, a wealth management firm specializing in socially responsible and impact investments, explained to me, “As you are likely aware, the opportunities available to non-accredited individuals to engage in “impact investing” are currently highly limited. So limited, in fact, that I would say from a traditional investing perspective, they are practically non-existent.”

Thankfully, there are a few and that is all you need to start investing.

Georgandellis’s comment begs another question of definitions. What is the difference between socially responsible investing and impact investing? Traditionally, socially responsible investing has been about applying negative screens to portfolios, a movement that began with investors divesting their holdings in companies with operations in South Africa to end apartheid there. Since then, the movement has begun to focus on environmental, social and (corporate) governance or ESG standards for screening good companies.

There are a number of funds and ratings schemes for scoring ESG, including some that give high scores to oil companies, a judgment that some environmentalists would scorn. Relatively few publicly traded companies are operating a business that would qualify as an impact investment. Tesla is an example of a public company I hold as an impact investment.

Some purists would argue, however, that an investment made in the secondary market (buying and selling stocks from other investors rather than upon their issuance from the company) isn’t an impact investment because the company didn’t get the money or use it for good. Given that when a new investor buys shares from an original impact investor the transaction provides liquidity and perhaps a return on investment to the original impact investor, it could be argued that the investment has a positive impact. For purposes of this article, I will include secondary investments as impact investments.

So, the easiest way to become an impact investor is to build a portfolio of publicly traded stocks in companies that do things you like. You might, for instance, build a portfolio of companies in clean-tech and renewable energy.

Increasingly, the line between socially responsible investing traditionally focused on ESG scores and impact investing is blurring. You may conclude that some socially responsible investing funds are doing enough good to qualify for impact investments in your mind.

Garvin Jabusch, co-founder and CIO at Green Alpha Advisors, says, “All a portfolio is in the end is a manager’s vision of what will grow and earn returns in the future. Investors have to look at holdings to ensure they agree with the manager’s vision of that future, both in terms of achieving sustainability and in terms of what they believe is growing and will continue to grow economically.”

Jabusch points to some tools to help investors screen stocks and funds. “Morningstar started publishing sustainability ratings (defined by number of “globes” on a one through five scale, like their stars) based on Sustainalytics data. Fossilfreefunds.org and Deforestationfreefunds.org both came online, and each rate mutual fund on a handful of metrics that we at Green Alpha think are meaningful by our definition of impact.”

One way for ordinary investors like you and me to invest in instruments that are traditionally open only to accredited investors is to invest with a donation through a donor advised fund or DAF. A DAF is an account you open with a public charity like a small (though there is no upper limit on size) private foundation, you get to advise the charity on where to send the charitable funds. You get a tax deduction when you contribute to the DAF, rather than when you make the grant to the ultimate charity. Some charities that manage DAFs, including some community foundations, will allow you to advise them on investments as well. Hence, using a DAF can allow you to make impact investments in instruments that otherwise would be open only to accredited investors. This is because the money isn’t yours and you’ll never get to put it back in your own pocket; the money belongs to the charity that manages the DAF.

Ross Baird, courtesy of Village Capital

Ross Baird, CEO of Village Capital, which manages a fund that invests in social enterprises says that they have accepted investments from ordinary investors via DAFs. While not in fundraising mode now, he notes that in the past they have had a minimum investment threshold of $5,000, a level that is accessible to some ordinary investors.

Cathy Clark, Adjunct Professor at the Duke Fuqua School of Business and Director of CASE i3: Initiative on Impact Investing, says, “My favorite product to recommend to my MBAs is Kiva. You don’t actually get the money back; once you donate the money it becomes charitably designated and cannot come back to you (just like donating to Acumen or a DAF). But you can reinvest the returns over and over and choose the kinds of loans you want to make. And the feedback on where your money is going and who it could be helping is rewarding.”

She likes ImpactAssets, a firm that manages DAFs where 100 percent of the money is invested in impact investments. While donors don’t have to be accredited, the minimum investment amounts are higher than most ordinary investors can afford. Read my past coverage of ImpactAssets here.

Clark also recommends investments via the Calvert Foundation. “There, you can do $25 online or a thousand by mail and earn more return than most bank accounts. Again, you can choose your impact flavor and the risk of loss is near zero because of their clever structure.”

She also recommends RSF, which offers 90 day notes in increments of $1,000 that pay interest at an annual rate set each quarter, currently 0.50 percent. The firm’s website boasts that 100 percent of principle and interest has always been paid in the past. RSF lends the money to small social enterprises that may also receive grant support.

Jennifer Pryce, President and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, adds, “At Calvert Foundation, our Community Investment Note is available starting from $20, the lowest minimum investment rate in this space. The Community Investment Note is also the only one of its kind that is available through financial advisors and brokerage firms.”

Jenny Kassan, courtesy of Force for Good Fund

Jenny Kassan, attorney and capital raising coach for social enterprises, specializes in helping them raise money via the crowd, including the recently implemented Regulation Crowdfunding that allows small businesses to issue securities via FINRA-registered portals.

She says, “There are more and more opportunities that open impact investing to everyone. There is a very new platform that aggregates opportunities in one place called Investibule. This site has all kinds of offerings such as zero-interest Kiva loans, offerings under the new federal crowdfunding exemption, state-registered public offerings, donation-based crowdfunding, and more. You can search for opportunities in your area, by type of business, by type of investment, etc.”

She says the number of securities offerings under all securities exemptions from registration should increase, due to the recent implementation of new rules from the SEC that changed intra-state crowdfunding restrictions and increased the amount issuers can raise under certain circumstances. The result will be a rapidly growing set of investment opportunities for ordinary investors.

Kassan herself is raising a fund to invest in social enterprises, she calls the Force for Good Fund. The minimum investment is just $1,000. She raising money on a site called Wefunder, which has become the most popular platform for ordinary investors to find startup investments, including impact investments.

Dr. Stephanie Gripne, of the Impact Finance Center, is upbeat, too. “The number of impact investing opportunities for ordinary investors expands every day. For ordinary impact investors from community notes, such as Denver’s Ours to Own Notes, to co-ops, such as Poudre Valley Farms, to sustainable real estate investments such as Direct Source Wealth, which utilizes new crowdsource funding laws.

Stephanie Gripne, courtesy of the Impact Finance Center

She also pointed to a campaign on Wefunder, this one for an environmentally minded outdoor sporting goods company called My Trail. The company has also been conducting a direct public offering under Colorado law that allows ordinary investors located in Colorado to participate.

Alon Goren, co-founder of Crowd Invest Summit, is especially excited about impact investing opportunities created by the implementation of Regulation Crowdfunding. “With the new crowdfunding investment rules that allow the average American access to investment opportunities, using sites like Crowdfunder or StartEngine, you can now sift through the thousands of companies, find the ones that align best with your passions, your ideals and your values, and you can now invest, participate, and share in the profits of these companies.”

Mike Norman, co-founder and President of Wefunder, says, “Public market ESG investing is more about not doing bad than doing good. Real impact comes from investing in small companies with a new take on solving problems that the investor thinks are important. Personally, investing in a fund that won’t include guns, alcohol or tobacco doesn’t feel like making an impact to me. I want to find the next Tom’s Shoes or Solar City when they are just getting started. That’s where the solutions to our most pressing challenges will come from, and though it’s also high risk, that’s where you can find high returns are as well.”

In February of 2016, thousands of ordinary investors put money into Elio Motors, a social enterprise that is building a three-wheeled vehicle that gets 84 miles per gallon and costs just $7,200. You can read my coverage here and here.

Elio raised the money on StartEngine giving ordinary investors the opportunity to participate in what was effectively a mini-IPO. The shares are now trading, albeit thinly, with the ticker ELIO.

Ron Miller, courtesy of StartEngine

StartEngine CEO Ron Miller says, “For over 80 years, only wealthy people had the opportunity to direct their investments into businesses and private companies with positive social benefits. Thanks to the JOBS Act, all that has been changed. Now, everyone has a chance to invest in great new companies and technologies that will change the world for the better. Online Public Offerings represent the means by which the true democratization of investment opportunity comes to life.”

Other social ventures are now raising money via StartEngine.

Matthew Weatherley-White, courtesy of the CAPROCK Group.

Matthew Weatherley-White, co-founder and Managing Director, The CAPROCK Group, notes that Community Development Finance Institutions are a good option for conservative impact investing. These special entities are required to meet Federal standards to qualify as CDFIs. You can find a CDFI in your community by visiting the Opportunity Finance Network website, which features a tool for finding a CDFI in your community. While not all CDFI’s accept small deposits or investments, some operate as credit unions and provide robust banking options.

Rod Schwartz, the CEO of ClearlySo, a financial advisory firm for social entrepreneurs in the UK, says, “The idea that impact investing (II) is the preserve of institutions or only the rich is breaking down rapidly, particularly in the UK, where the regime is very much encouraging II.” He notes several examples:

  • Individuals may pretty easily qualify for investment via Ethex, which is a portal into dozens of high impact investments.  The Social Stock Exchange is also working on increasing retail investor engagement
  • Millions of pounds have been invested via Community Share Issues, which support high impact investments in local communities
  • Individuals may invest in Community Development Finance Institutions, and get a tax break—these deposit-like products lend money to the financially excluded
  • There is a bond fund available via Threadneedle, which is an II bond fund

Vincent Bradley, courtesy of FlashFunder

Vincent Bradley, CEO and co-founder of Flashfunders, explains why we are at the very beginning of a long-term trend and impact investment opportunities are so likely to grow in the future. “The next big wave of entrepreneurship globally is going to be impact orientated businesses. As of 2016, Millennials, now numbering 75+ Million have overtaken the Baby Boomer generation as the largest demographic in the U.S. More importantly, millennials care about the social and environmental impact of the products and services they are spending their money on. Moving forward, good business will be impactful business.”

This Entrepreneur Is Killing It And Raising More Money For Nonprofits In the Bargain

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Tim Kachuriak, founder and CEO of NextAfter, one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S., is helping nonprofits raise more money using sophisticated data analysis.

Kachuriak expects to hit $4 million in revenue this year with 77 percent gross margins and 31 percent net margins, making the fast growing company highly profitable as well. Launched little more than five years ago, the company is listed as number 422 on the Inc. 500 list.

Kachuriak explains NextAfter’s approach to helping nonprofits increase online donations. “Our business exists to create a more generous world by using behavioral economics and applied research testing to discover what inspires people to give.” This allows nonprofits to increase donations by constantly A-B testing—comparing nearly identical ad copy to determine whether the difference between two ads will make a difference in giving.

The results of much of its client work is posted almost in real time on the research page of the company’s website, allowing any nonprofit—large or small—to benefit from the analysis they are constantly doing. In August, for instance, they compared the performance of two Facebook ads intended to capture email addresses for the firm. Both ads are shown on the page and the conversation data for each is provided. One of the nearly identical ads converted nearly twice as much. The statistical validity of each comparison is also shown.

The problem that nonprofits face is that charitable giving has not increased even as our society has become more prosperous, according to Kachuriak. “By almost every measure (income, wealth, GDP) we are living in the most prosperous time in modern history. However, the percent that people give to nonprofit organizations has been stuck at the same 2 percent of household income for the past 40 years. So the question is, if we are more wealthy than we have ever been, why are we not more generous?”

Kachuriak would like to change that.

So, NextAfter is constantly experimenting to learn what makes people give. “One way may be to better understand what motivates and inspires people to give. We believe that if we can decode what works in fundraising, we can then engineer a more generous society.”

“To accomplish this, we are using the greatest behavioral laboratory that has ever existed–the internet–to virtually peer inside the minds of donors and find out why they give,” he adds.

Tim Kachuriak, courtesy of NextAfter

Tim Kachuriak, courtesy of NextAfter

The biggest challenge he faces, Kachuriak says, is that nonprofits have limited overhead funding. “The greatest challenge is that nonprofit organizations by nature suffer from scarcity of resources– they do not have big budgets for Research and Development. So in order to fund our research into what makes people give, we help organizations optimize their fundraising efforts by applying the principles testing and conversion rate optimization that is being pioneered in the for-profit sector.”

In other words, the experimentation is done in real time in a live fire environment. By driving improving results it is easier for nonprofits to afford the effort.

The problem remains, however, that only large nonprofits are good candidates as clients. Small nonprofits simply don’t have the traffic to provide statistically reliable data from which to draw conclusions.

As Kachuriak notes, “One of the biggest limitations is the composition of the nonprofit market. 84 percent of nonprofits have annual budgets of less than $1 million. This means that they most likely do not have large donor bases, lists, or even web traffic which means that only the larger organizations have enough volume to actually statistically validate our results. This means that we are really only able to do our field testing with the upper 3.6 to 16 percent of the market.”

Kachuriak sees three potential benefits that can come from NextAfter’s success.

First, he hopes to see the creation of the most generous generation in history. “If we are successful in our mission of decoding giving–understanding what motivates and inspires people to give through real-world testing–then we can radiate our learnings out to the greater nonprofit community which may intern lead to a renaissance in modern fundraising and unleash the most generous generation in the history of the world.”

Second, he believes that by extension the work of nonprofits will expand and grow to the benefit of millions around the world who are aided by nonprofits. “You can imagine what [more giving] would do for the causes that the nonprofit community serves–more clean water for people that so desperately need it, more food, medicines, and support for those that can’t afford it, greater access to education, freedom, and information–and the list goes on and on.”

Finally, he believes that donors themselves receive an inherent benefit from giving. “Perhaps the greatest benefit to our world would be experienced by the donor herself–the more that we give to care for the needs of others, the less selfish we become and the more experience true happiness and contentment.”

On Thursday, October 20 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Kachuriak will join me here for a live discussion about how nonprofits can improve giving—in some cases dramatically—by using more data driven approaches. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

How You Can Invest In (Not Donate) Ending Homelessness

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

It is almost as if the earth shifted a few degrees on its axis and no one noticed. The finance and nonprofit worlds have come together to create a financing model that literally allows investors to earn a positive financial return on programs that lead to reductions in homelessness–and no one seems to care.

Salt Lake County is leading the way with a new financing vehicle known variously as “Pay For Success,” “social impact bonds” or “social impact financing.” While some will quibble over distinctions, I’ll use or quote people using these terms as if they all mean the same thing.

Jeremy Keele, who previously worked for Salt Lake County and now serves as Managing Director for the Sorenson Impact Center at the David Eccles School of Business as the University of Utah, explains how it works.

In social impact financing (SIF), the private sector pays for the capital needs of high-performing, evidence-based nonprofits working on homelessness. If the program is successful, government repays the initial investment. Through models like SIF, government effectively off-loads risk to the private sector and only pays for positive outcomes, which is a win-win for both taxpayers and at-risk individuals and families in our communities.

The financing structure for SIF is upside down from traditional financing, with the investors taking the most risk earning the smallest returns. In fact, they often put money up for the programs on an entirely philanthropic basis, while other investors take less risk and earn higher rewards.

Mayor Ben McAdams of Salt Lake County points out that each participant has a motivation to put the money up that isn’t limited to financial metrics. The senior lenders, taking the least risk, are typically banks that receive Community Reinvestment Act credit with their regulators for lending money for these programs.

Mayor Ben McAdams, courtesy of Salt Lake County

Mayor Ben McAdams, courtesy of Salt Lake County

McAdams says, “The middle tranche is where many impact investors see their loans used. This includes private foundations who make what is known as a Program Related Investment. As social impact investors, they understand the high-risk, lower rate of financial return equation.”

He notes that the folks who take the most risk and are in fact unlikely to receive much if any of their money back in return, let alone receive any return on the investment, are grant makers accustomed to donating money to address these social problems.

Jeramy Lund, also a Managing Director of the Sorenson Impact Center, explains what motivates these grant makers: leverage. “This currently works for those at the bottom of the capital stack because the donors are getting $10 for every $1 they give to do work they care about.” They appreciate that their donations make the rest of the financing possible, significantly amplifying their impact.

Given the peculiar structure of Pay For Success deals, I couldn’t help but ask if it is even possible that this model can scale.

Jeremy Keele, courtesy of the Sorenson Impact Center

Jeremy Keele, courtesy of the Sorenson Impact Center

Keele says it can. “The model is scalable because of the tremendous growth in the impact investing market itself (with an estimated $60 billion in assets currently under management).”

Lund, too, is optimistic. “When you consider that an estimated $358 billion was given to charities in the US in 2015 alone, purposing some of this money from traditional philanthropy – ‘here’s your money, do some good, I hope’ to Pay For Success – ‘here is some money to do A, report back to me on X, Y and Z’ could provide ample scale even if a charitable component needs to remain a part of the transaction.”

McAdams, seeming a bit less optimistic, points out that only time will tell. “There are approximately 50-75 Pay for Success transactions in the pipeline, and once those mature and results are known, it will be possible to determine if the pilot programs are, in fact, scalable.”

Homelessness seems so intractable a problem as to beg the question whether any of this will help.

McAdams acknowledges that homelessness may never go away completely. “There may always be a need for emergency shelter, as when a woman is fleeing a domestic violence scenario and needs refuge. Or when a family is overcome with medical bills and loses their home or apartment. But emergency shelter should be just that, the response to an emergency. The more quickly you help folks move beyond an emergency, the less established the problems that come with homelessness will be.”

Lund says, “One of the benefits of some of the new approaches to treating homelessness is to accept that you can’t use a one size fits all approach and instead apply a specific set of interventions to actually solve for a specific type of homelessness.” He notes that if we can do this for each “type” of homelessness, we have the potential to end it altogether.

Lund notes that a key is to start with people who really understand homelessness, including the root causes.

McAdams identifies some of the key sources of homelessness. “In Salt Lake County we see homelessness because of domestic violence, poverty, untreated mental illness, drug addiction and lack of access to social safety net programs. There is also a lack of affordable housing.”

The Mayor hopes to prevent people from ever needing to end up at the emergency shelter. “By tackling the different circumstances that sent people into crisis in the first place, we remove the one-size-fits-all approach and begin to reorient the system so that we help keep people from ending up at the emergency shelter door.”

He adds, “Our collective impact model assumes that if we are all in harness together and united around the same agenda, goals and outcomes, we’ll have an impact that matches all the time, money and effort that goes into addressing this complex problem.”

Keele agrees, noting that increasingly experts know what needs to be done. “These are not ‘band-aid’ measures — they effectively address the underlying drivers of homelessness, like mental illness, substance use disorders, domestic violence and economic insecurity. What is lacking in most communities is the funding and technical capacity to address the problem systemically.”

Jeramy Lund, courtesy of the Sorenson Impact Center

Jeramy Lund, courtesy of the Sorenson Impact Center

Lund draws parallels between Pay For Success and the venture capital market. “My day job involves funding very risky early stage companies, venture capital, as we know it now, has only been around for about 50 years. But it now has a fairly standard set of contracts, pricing and expectations for the funders and the companies involved. Why couldn’t pay-for-success evolve in a similar fashion where government works with charitable donors, not-for-profits and for-profit funders to achieve social benefits and actually solve problems bigger than how do I send a picture that will disappear after five seconds?”

He adds, hopefully, “It won’t happen overnight, I just hope it will happen and we can solve problems as opposed to treating the symptoms.”

On Monday, October 10, 2016, Mayor McAdams will join me here for a live discussion about the County’s Pay For Success program aimed at reducing homelessness. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Cancer Survivor, Sommelier Infuses New Venture With Purpose

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Kirsten Henry Fox is an executive sommelier and entrepreneur who survived breast cancer in 2014. The cancer scare inspired her newest venture, Uplift Gift, a company launched on October 1st that sends gift boxes, typically including just the right wine for the occasion, to people experiencing cancer or other challenge.

Fox says, “For our launch, we are offering two types of gift boxes: one without wine, one with wine. Each gift box contains the following: a soft, ivory pashmina, hand-crafted chocolates, gourmet tea sampler, velvety sipping cocoa, three essential oils and a custom, hand-written greeting card. Optionally, if desired and legal to ship into the distressed friend’s state, the customer can add a bottle of white or red wine.”

“The gift boxes we will be offering at our launch,” she says, “include items that personally were meaningful for me when I was going through the trauma of diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer. These are similar to packages my friends brought to me.”

The package without wine costs $176 with shipping. The package with wine costs $205. She projects a 53 percent gross margin with these prices.

From the start, 5 percent of the sales price will go to charity. Initially, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation will be the beneficiary. Ultimately, Fox says, she’s solicit charity nominations from her vendors.

Over time, she says, she plans to add more gift boxes for more circumstances.

Kirsten Henry Fox, courtesy of Uplift Gift

Kirsten Henry Fox, courtesy of Uplift Gift

Fox is the author of The Profitable Wine List and is also the CEO and founder of the Culinary Wine Institute.

There’s a need, she says, for the Uplift Gift service. “When friends are going through life’s challenges – divorce, death, bad medical diagnosis, pet loss – women are compelled to do something to show they care, but often they don’t have the time or ideas as to what to do, especially when their friends live out of town. They ponder what to send that means a lot to show the depth of their feelings; their friend is struggling and needs more than a ‘typical’ gift. And finding words to say is sometimes even harder.”

Fox hopes that the carefully curated packages will give recipients comfort, not only because of the contents, but also from seeing the donation to a nonprofit.

She also sees that her venture is stepping into an emotionally difficult situation, raising the bar on customer service. “Both parties involved are in pain – the supportive friend needs a meaningful way to show her love; the distressed friend is dealing with a huge life challenge. We can’t screw up by over promising and under delivering. If we screw that up, we will have two hurting people hurting more.”

There are limitations inherent in her business model. The prices are not accessible to everyone. “These are not gift boxes for women who are trying to put food on the table or who are struggling to pay bills. We help them by funding non-profits,” she says.

Despite the challenges and limitations, Fox is confident that Uplift Gift can make a difference for women in distress. “Our success will mean that distressed women will feel their friends’ love when they need it most.”

Karyn Barsa, a recognized leader in social entrepreneurship who previously served as CEO of Investors’ Circle, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing together social entrepreneurs and accredited investors, sees the potential for Fox to make a big difference. Uplift Gift makes it easy to express support and affection, fundamental to the peace we seek throughout the world.”

On Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Fox will join me here for a live discussion about the launch of Uplift Gift and how she hopes to help women going through what she’s already been through. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Hult Prize Winners To Deploy $1M Prize Improving Public Transit In Kenya

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Each year the Hult Prize committee sets what Jim Collins would call a big, hairy, audacious goal or BHAG for student teams of social entrepreneurs. This year, the challenge was to double the income of 1 million people in the developing world. The winning team created a texting system that optimizes the inefficient public transportation market in Kenya.

The $1 million prize was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative last month. The Clinton Foundation has announced that this will be the last such event and most of the employees have been given notice that that they will be laid off at the end of the year. The CGI was founded in 2005 to help find solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Being recognized at the final CGI is a historic footnote.

Karim Samra, Chief Operating Officer of the Hult Prize Foundation, was closely involved with the judging process. He explains why the Magic Bus Ticketing team won.Magic Bus Ticketing launched a startup that clearly meets a number of critical success factors including raising income levels for local drivers and conductors, a focus on significantly improving outcomes for millions through more efficient and effective transportation options, demonstrable financial and technical feasibility, a novel and unique approach that leverages technology appropriately for the market (sms-based), and embedded mechanisms for fast scale (financial rewards).”

The Magic Bus Ticketign Team on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative after President Bill Clinton announces their victory, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing.

The Magic Bus Ticketign Team on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative after President Bill Clinton announces their victory, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing.

Ted Wiley judged the Boston regional Hult Prize competition where the team competed. He was so impressed, he offered to mentor the team. He agrees that the team was deserving. “In addition to being the entrant with the highest likelihood of delivering on the goal of the competition of doubling 1 million salaries, Magic Bus has the potential to do something much bigger: provide dignified, reliable public transportation to the billion people in the world with the lowest income. Their ingenious approach is simple, scalable and rapidly profitable at prices their target customers can afford.”

Iman Cooper, part of the winning team, is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Magic Bus Ticketing. She explains the public transportation problem. ”We are working with informal transportation systems in Africa, where the whole system revolves around lots of uncertainty. First, commuters simply don’t know when the bus will come, or how often, or how much they will pay before entering the bus. As a result, they can lose up to half of their daily income on inconsistent bus prices.”

The problem doesn’t stop there. The bus drivers are not much better off, she says. ”Buses are unsure about the demand along the route, therefore, they prefer to wait at the main terminal before starting their route. This means that the people waiting along the route spend even more time waiting, because the bus drives by when it’s already full of passengers.”

The system is a mess. Given that the majority of Kenyans rely on public transportation, this is a significant social problem that also presents a significant opportunity for social entrepreneurs.

The four co-founders are from Kenya, India, Congo and the U.S., providing the team with a global perspective.

Some of the Magic Bus team, with a Matatu mini-bus, a common form of public transportation in Nairobi, Kenya, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing.

Some of the Magic Bus team, with a Matatu mini-bus, a common form of public transportation in Nairobi, Kenya, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing.

Cooper explains their Magic Bus system. “With an easy to use SMS platform, Magic Bus connects the bus to the commuter. Our solution is two-fold, first we allow the bus to know the demand along the route, reducing their waiting time and increasing their productivity by allowing them to move faster and make more trips. Second, commuters can now text to find a bus, text to pay with mobile money, and text to book a ticket, allowing them to compare fares and find the best price before entering a bus–enabling them to save up to half of their income each day.’

Steven Covey would be proud of this win-win solution. It is a dramatic example of commerce finding a way to make a process more efficient in a way that will benefit both the providers and the consumers of a service.

Using just $10,000 to pilot their program in Kenya, Cooper reports, “we piloted extensively in Nairobi, developing our technology and beta testing with 10 buses over the past nine weeks. During this time period, we had more than 2,000 unique users, 73% of whom used Magic Bus more than three times. As a result, we have had more than 5,000 tickets booked through our system.”

Samra says the judges were impressed. “They also convinced a number of highly selective judging panels that they can execute on their plans on account of being intimately familiar with their target market and highly skilled at simplifying and distilling their message. The amount of traction (repeat and single users) they were able to register during their pilot was also a critical advantage – nothing speaks louder than satisfied and paying customers.”

A pilot program, however, is just a test run. Entrepreneurs face all kinds of problems in scaling up good ideas into profitable businesses. Cooper, recognizes that she and her team will face some unique challenges. “The largest challenge we face is that there are multiple stakeholders in every new market and each market doesn’t work the exact same way in terms of rules, regulations, and cultural norms. Each new market will require the right local connections, getting the agreement of multiple stakeholders, and identifying people to work with us who are just as committed to the mission as we are.”

She says, dealing with this challenge will require a large team, which they are prepared to build.

Samra says, “Magic Bus will now have to shift into execution mode. They will have to develop a more robust tech platform that can sustain high volumes of users, aggressively partner with bus cooperatives in Kenya to gain market share, identify corporate partners who can accelerate their path to profitability, hire a set of key staff that can institutionalize their processes, and iron out any kinks they discovered in their pilot in preparation for scale. In tandem, they will have to define and measure how they will choose to track their outcomes on target customers and communities.”

Bus driver in Kenya, says he’s happy with Magic Bus Ticketing service, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing

Bus driver in Kenya, says he’s happy with Magic Bus Ticketing service, courtesy of Magic Bus Ticketing

Cooper also recognizes that there are limits to what Magic Bus can do. Only people with cell phones who ride public transportation benefit from the system. “Luckily the majority of Africans, especially Kenyans, fall under this category,” she adds.

She also notes that it will be easier to make inroads in markets where there is some organizational structure, such as bus cooperatives. This will give Magic Bus a way to bring more buses into the system more quickly.

Of course, the startup is not yet profitable, but Cooper projects reaching break even in 2018.

Like all good social entrepreneurs, Cooper says the team is driven by purpose and mission.

We are driven by the belief that every person deserves access to economic opportunities, and are passionate about seeing that become a reality through efficient public transportation. Magic Bus improves the lives of commuters by adding certainty to their day, allowing them to compare fares before entering a bus, saving them up to half of their daily income and enabling them to pay through the convenience of their phones. On the other hand, the company enables bus drivers to better serve their community and earn a better daily wage by aggregating the demand for bus rides and increasing the drivers’ daily productivity by up to 5 hours.

Samra shares the conviction that transportation is critical to increasing economic development in Africa. He says, “During the final judge deliberations it’s interesting to note that both African judges (Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and ADB President Dr. Adesina) thought transportation was one of the most critical challenges facing Africans today due to its impact on so many on a daily basis.”

“I always say competing against more than 5,000 of the world’s top entrepreneurs and winning the Hult Prize is basically just the first step – then comes the real challenge,” Samra adds.

On Thursday, October 6, 2016, Cooper and her co-founder and CFO, Wyclife Omondi, will join me here for a live discussion about winning the prize and what they will do with the proceeds to meet the Hult Prize BHAG. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

NET Effects Traders: Changing Lives. One Bag at a Time.

This is a guest post from Ardice Farrow, the Founder and Director of Net Effects Traders.

At the age of 63 I looked back on my amazing life. A life full of adventure, love and deep satisfaction. I looked forward into those “golden years” – the last third of my life and wondered to myself “What do I want to do with these years? What do I want my final legacy to be?”

I knew I wanted to be having the time of my life, I wanted another grand adventure and I knew that I wanted to contribute to women and children. I wanted to “Retire on Purpose”. I had no experience with nonprofits, social programs or teaching in the classroom but at the age of 63 there is little to lose and much to gain so I hopped on a plane to Cambodia after a short volunteer stint in Tanzania.

I did not expect to fall in love at this late stage in my life. But I did. Within weeks I was head over heels in love with Cambodia. Despite the wretched past of the Khmer Rouge and massive genocide and the generational poverty that grips most of the country the Cambodians are the most loving, generous, joy filled and funny folks I have ever met. I was further seduced by the warm tropical weather the drama and the romance of the torrid monsoon rains and the mighty moonlit Mekong River. I loved the food, the crazy traffic and I could wear flip flops every day.

I was soon hired by a large non-profit organization to create leadership programs for young adults, empowerment programs for impoverished moms and women working in small fair trade garment centers.

After two years of experiencing the power of Trade instead of Aid, trying to break the cycle of generational poverty, I had developed a huge affinity for the disenfranchised women of Cambodia. They had become my friends. I had sat in their humble homes – hundreds of make-shift shelters built on an old landfill with conditions that would appall most of us here in the West. I had shared the triumph of their children in school, the heartbreak of abusive husbands and not having enough food and helped those in the small garment centers build their confidence, self-respect and leadership skills.

we-love-our-team

Empowered by their growing skills as artisans and good wages I saw these capable women become confident, as collecting a fair wage led to more financial freedom and allowed them to make good decisions for their families and continue to educate themselves. My adventure had turned a corner. I was now an advocate to end generational poverty and provide structures for partnership instead philanthropy. I asked myself ‘What could I do to accelerate this process?’

And so Net Effects Traders was born. Net Effects Traders is a focused on creating fabulous fashion bags for western consumers made by artisans in Cambodia for whom I provide training and fair wage jobs. I also have the great good fortune of partnering with a Phnom Penh design and production team and a Cambodian business leader who had been training landmine and polio survivors, hearing impaired and impoverished mothers for over a decade.

These are incredibly wonderful and hardworking people would have been left to scavenge the streets at night for cans and bottles to sell just to feed their families or been found on a street corner, child in hand, begging for a few coins from passing cars.

Today the Net Effects collection features everything from wallet – clutch hybrids to durable beach totes and hip retro style messenger bags. We decided our colorful bags and totes should be “zero waste” made from repurposed industrial and agricultural netting found in Cambodia that would otherwise end up in the city dump. We also decided to give back further by donating portion of our proceeds to “Nothing But Nets”, the international organization that is distributing mosquito nets to impoverished families around the globe.

I now have the pleasure of promoting the notion of “Shopping for Change” and speaking to the life-altering impact consumers can have simply by becoming more and more conscious about the companies they buy from. One does not need to hop on a plane and fly across the globe to make a difference. But I’m glad I did.

Ardice Farrow

Ardice Farrow

About Ardice Farrow:

Ardice splits her time between Cambodia and Los Angeles, as Founder and Director of Net Effects Traders. Practicing Trade not Aid, Ardice advocates to impact and empower disenfranchised Cambodian women through training, fair wage jobs and great working conditions.

Entrepreneur Launches High Impact Nonprofit Without Giving Up Career

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

“Somebody ought to do something about that.” If you’re like me, you’ve said that–if only to yourself–on occasion. The most successful people in the world seem to be the ones who don’t. Instead, they do something.

Most of us aren’t willing to give up our careers to “do something” to solve a social problem, especially if there is no good answer to the partner question, “What’s in it for me?” Mellanie True Hills, a professional speaker who has earned the National Speakers Association’s Certified Speaking Professional designation, recognized a problem and created a nonprofit to address it without giving up her career.

Hills launched her nonprofit, American Foundation for Women’s Health, which in turn runs StopAfib.org, after having a near-death experience resulting from atrial fibrillation or “Afib.” StopAfib.org is a patient-to-patient organization that works to help those experiencing Afib to advocate for themselves with the healthcare community to get the best possible outcomes.

StopAfib.org operates on an annual budget of approximately $500,000, she says. The revenue comes from donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. With a small staff, the organization has been able to drive significant impact by partnering with other organizations and advocating at the national level. For instance, Hills was a driving force in the creating and national recognition of Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month.

Hills says she is on a mission. “My mission is to rid the world of strokes caused by atrial fibrillation through raising awareness of it and through educating and supporting those living with it.”

Mellanie True Hills, courtesy of StopAfib.org

Mellanie True Hills, courtesy of StopAfib.org

“Approximately 30 million people worldwide have atrial fibrillation (AF or afib), an irregular heartbeat that causes strokes, heart failure, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Afib-related strokes are twice as deadly as other strokes (because the clots are huge), and three times as deadly as other strokes in the first 30 days,” Hills says, highlighting the reasons that understanding Afib is so important.

Hills notes that there is another problem. “Many people may not even know that they have atrial fibrillation, especially the silent form of it. Thus, they may be time bombs walking around waiting to go off.” This makes awareness particularly important as people who don’t know they have Afib certainly aren’t getting the treatment they need.

Hills’ work began with the Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month she helped to create in 2007. Since then, StopAfib.org has organized or helped to organize conferences and roundtables on the topic to educate patients. She says, StopAfib.org convened the First National Atrial Fibrillation Health Policy Roundtable in Washington, DC, which brought together patient organizations, medical societies, government agencies, and payers to surface issues and work together to address them.”

The young organization has had outsized impacts by partnering with other organizations. She says, ”We have worked in conjunction with medical societies, such as the Heart Rhythm Society (electrophysiologists), the American College of Cardiology (cardiologists), and the American Heart Association (heart doctors), to get Congress to introduce Resolutions related to Atrial Fibrillation.”

The last effort brought an interesting connection with the world’s most famous romantic balladeer. “It was in conjunction with this that I had the opportunity to follow Barry Manilow in front of members of Congress to thank the Senate for passing the AF Resolution and to ask the House of Representatives to do so,” she says.

StopAfib.org has had an impact globally, not just in the U.S. Hills notes, “Globally, we have been part of the Action for Stroke Prevention Coalition of medical societies and patient organizations, working together around the globe to develop stroke crisis reports and work with policymakers to elevate atrial fibrillation and strokes on national health policy agendas in Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific.”

The organization, working with others, is focusing more attention on those who may have Afib and not know it. As part of an international effort called AF-Screen International, StopAfib.org has worked to poll 3,000 patients to better understand the problem. Hills admits the organization now faces a challenge: “tackling healthcare systems at the country level to get them to address this problem” by requiring and funding screenings.

Pegine Echevarria, a prominent member of the National Speakers Association and Hills’ professional colleague, says she has been successful because she is focused. She adds, “She is influencing those who serve in the StopAfib community through education, tireless advocacy and intense research. She is a powerful matriarch within the community, relentless, passionate and fierce in her mission.”

Linda Swindling, JD, CSP, professional speaker, author of several books, is also a professional colleague. She’s known Hills for over 20 years and so has seen StopAfib.org grow from its seeds with Hills in the hospital nearly a decade ago. She’s seen the impact her work has on individuals.

Swindling says, “Personally, I’ve seen the impact this vital information has had on friends and families. My father is a heart patient and I know how important great advice is. When one of my friends needed information quick on her own condition, Mellanie came to the rescue. She not only gave my friend tools, information and talking points, she got on the phone and discussed questions to talk over with my friend’s medical team. Interesting that this intelligent communication about the heart is created by someone whose brilliance is supported by her big heart.”

Hills sees her work as a way for her to save lives and help people avoid the tragic complications of strokes even when they are survived. “Through awareness, and getting people diagnosed and treated before they have a stroke, we can decrease the number of Afib-related strokes worldwide. That decreases overall healthcare costs in a time where healthcare resources are more and more precious; even more importantly, people with afib can continue to be productive members of society, and their family members are not relegated to being caretakers for stroke victims.”

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Hills will join me here for a live discussion about her remarkable dual career and the impact she is having on the world through her nonprofit work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Hilton Prize Winner Works to Eradicate Vaccine-Preventable Disease


You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Improving public health in the developing world faces seemingly insurmountable odds. The Task Force for Global Health, or TFGH, is working to change those odds. Last month, CEO Dave Ross accepted on behalf of the organization a $2 million prize from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for its annual Humanitarian Prize.

“The Task Force is about compassion, collaboration, and smart solutions,” said Hilton Foundation CEO Peter Laugharn upon granting the award. “The organization and its partners roll up their sleeves and solve massive global health problems, and they do it without fanfare. This is an organization that, with its partners, is on track to help eliminate three diseases in the next decade. That is something we should all celebrate.”

Dave frames the problem this way: “People who live in extreme poverty survive on less than $1.25 a day and lack access to food, clean water, and basic health services, including immunizations and medicines. Because of their impoverished status, they also are preferentially targeted by infectious diseases that cause blindness, disfigurement, impaired cognition, stunted growth, paralysis, and even death.”

A boy helps Samuel Nicol (age unknown), who was blinded by river blindness, walk through the village of Gbonjeima, Sierra Leone, on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The Task Force for Global Health is working with partners to eliminate river blindness by 2025. Copyright: Olivier Asselin, courtesy of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

A boy helps Samuel Nicol (age unknown), who was blinded by river blindness, walk through the village of Gbonjeima, Sierra Leone, on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The Task Force for Global Health is working with partners to eliminate river blindness by 2025. Copyright: Olivier Asselin, courtesy of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The TFGH is working to reduce the odds of preventable illnesses, ultimately working to reduce the odds to zero wherever possible.

“The Task Force for Global Health is working to improve the health of people most in need, primarily in developing countries,” Dave says. “The Task Force consists of programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development.”

The work isn’t easy and there is no guarantee of success. The obstacles that stand in the way seem too large to overcome.

Dave says, “The Task Force faces four types of challenges in its work. They include:

  1. Coordinating and managing complex disease control and elimination programs at significant scales;
  2. Maintaining these programs in countries with conflict and unrest;
  3. Addressing scientific challenges to disease control and elimination; and
  4. Keeping international attention and resources focused on addressing diseases of extreme poverty.”

Ultimately, the size of the problem is the biggest challenge, meaning that the organization needs help to achieve its mission.

“The massive scale of these problems represents the biggest challenge to The Task Force’s work and makes it impossible for us to address them alone. Collaboration is essential to solving global health problems that affect billions of people around the world,” Dave adds.

The benefits of success could tremendously outweigh the costs to get there, however. Once eradicated, a disease will never kill or maim another child.

“Disease eradication is often considered the holy grail of public health because its benefits extend to everyone, both current and future generations. In communities affected by these diseases, fear of the future has been replaced with hope for lives free of debilitating diseases and suffering. The humanitarian impact of The Task Force’s work extends beyond alleviating the burden of diseases that have plague humanity for millennia. Ending these diseases has long-term implications for the development of poor countries,” Dave concludes.

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Dave will join me here for a live discussion about the Hilton Prize, the work of the TFGH and a future free of vaccine preventable disease. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Dave Ross, courtesy of the Task Force for Public Health

Dave Ross, courtesy of the Task Force for Global Health

More about the Task Force for Global Health:

Twitter: @TFGH

The Task Force for Global Health is an international, nonprofit organization that works to improve health of people most in need, primarily in developing countries. Founded in 1984 by global health pioneer Bill Foege, The Task Force consists of programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development. The Task Force works in partnership with ministries of health and hundreds of organizations, including major pharmaceutical companies that donate billions of dollars annually in essential medicines. Major funders include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, Sightsavers, Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and GSK. The Task Force team consists of 120 scientists, program experts, logisticians, and other global health professionals. It is affiliated with Emory University, headquartered in Decatur, Georgia, and has regional offices in Guatemala and Ethiopia. The Task Force currently supports work in 151 countries.

Dave’s bio:

Dave Ross, ScD, is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of The Task Force for Global Health. In this role, Dr. Ross provides strategic direction to The Task Force and oversees seven programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, and public health informatics. He assumed leadership of The Task Force on May 1, 2016, after 16 years as director of The Task Force’s Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) and its predecessor All Kids Count.

For more than 35 years, Dr. Ross has led collaborative programs to strengthen information capacity of public health systems in the United States and other countries. In addition to his non-profit experience, he has worked in the public and private sectors on both healthcare delivery and medical informatics.

Dr. Ross launched PHII in 2002 and spearheaded its growth to become internationally recognized in the field of public health informatics, a discipline that focuses on using information to improve health outcomes. Today, PHII has a $7.4-million annual budget with a diverse portfolio of domestic and international programs supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and top-tier national foundations. Most recently, PHII partnered with the Emory Global Health Institute on a major initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help understand and ultimately address the causes of death and serious illness for children under 5 in developing countries. This initiative will last at least 20 years and may commit more than $1 billion in funding to support improved disease surveillance.

Dr. Ross is a thought leader and one of the pioneers of public health informatics. He was founding director of CDC’s first national initiative to improve the information infrastructure of public health in the United States. Dr. Ross also has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and frequently serves on national panels focused on public health informatics. He co-chaired “Data for Health,” a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative that is exploring how information and data on health can be harnessed to help people lead healthier lives. Before joining The Task Force, Dr. Ross held leadership, administrative, and corporate consultant roles with the U.S. Public Health Service, CDC, a private hospital system in Maryland, and one of the largest health information technology firms. Dr. Ross holds a doctor of science degree in operations research from The Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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