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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Social Entrepreneurship

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

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This Pair Is Working To Integrate Refugees Into Parisian Employment And Community


Jean Guo, CEO, and Binta Jammeh, COO, of Konexio are working to provide digital skills training to improve the educational and career potential to some of the 200,000 refugees living in Paris. Just as important, they are strategically helping them to connect to the broader Paris community to help them fully integrate into their new community.

Launched less than two years ago, Konexio is already showing results, with most of the participants reporting that they use the skills they learned. Almost three quarters report getting jobs!

Interview with Jean Guo, the CEO, co-founder of Konexio.

The following is the pre-interview with Jean Guo. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

The problem that Konexio seeks to solve is the pressing issue of integration and employment for vulnerable populations, notably refugees and migrants. This problem revolves around three key facts:

There are currently 65 million displaced persons globally.

In France, where Konexio operates, there are over 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and the unemployment rate within this group is over 50%.

On average it takes 20 years for refugees to reach the same employment level as nationals.

However, according to the European Commission, 1€ invested in integration efforts can yield 2€ in economic benefits. Furthermore, it is is estimated that there will be 1 million vacancies in jobs requiring digital skills in Europe by 2020, while a staggering 90 % of jobs across Europe already require candidates to have at least a basic level of digital literacy.

Our solution is to provide digital and soft skills training to our students, thus providing refugees with opportunities for professional, social and educational development and a pathway to inclusion and integration in their host community.

We currently operate two programs out of our headquarters in Paris. Developed in line with digital skills standards recognized at both the European and international level, our digital skills program consists of a sequence of cumulative courses covering basic computer use and internet navigation to word processing (Microsoft Word) and spreadsheet proficiency (Microsoft Excel).

Our code skills program starts with basic concepts of web development. Digitous is the following course and a 2-step program. The first part involves a full stack curriculum, while the second focuses on hands-on learning by working on tech projects for businesses to give Konexio students access to their first professional experience in France.

In addition to digital and code skills training, we organize workshops focused on soft skills. Soft skills training, which requires an intimate knowledge of social and cultural codes, are particularly important for our refugee students looking to integrate in France. These interpersonal skills, such as effective communication, teamwork and working in collaborative environments, self-confidence, time management, self-expression and making public presentations, are as important and necessary as digital skills training — both are needed for a streamlined integration not only into the job market, but into the social fabrics of their new host communities.

Donate:  helloasso.com/associations/konexio/formulaires/1/en

More about Konexio:

Twitter: @konexio_eu

Facebook: facebook.com/konexio.eu/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/konexio/

Website: konexio.eu

Konexio provides digital skills training and work placement for the most vulnerable, including refugee and migrant populations. With the opportunities presented by growing and unmet labor market demands in Europe for digitally-proficient/skilled individuals, our model focuses on training students in both hard and soft skills; we use innovative, tech-driven tools to deliver our computer skills training modules while tapping into our entrenched network of local and international partnerships to provide our students with access to professional and personal development workshops.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: We have a mixed portfolio containing several different revenue streams. We receive funding on one end from philanthropic supporters and foundations, as well as government grants, donations from corporate partners. We are moving to increase self-financing options, which include revenue streams from projects carried out by our students in collaboration with tech companies that we source (part of which would go to the students and part of which would be re-invested back into their education), hiring fees paid by employers to recruit long-term from our pool of students and a freemium model of payment for the program.

Scale: Since our creation in November 2016, Konexio has welcomed more than 120 students through 16 promotions, received support from more than 100 volunteers who have donated more than 2000 hours of engagement, and developed more than 30 local and international partnerships in tech, government and the nonprofit sector. In terms of the target outcomes achieved by our students, of the Konexio alumni surveyed, 70% have gone on to find work, launch their own entrepreneurial projects, or continue their education, 94% continue to use the digital skills learned in our courses in both their professional and personal lives, and 94% reported feeling more socially included and connected to their local communities. In 2018, we won the Quick Pitch Prize at the Global Social Venture Competition, and are current finalists in two social innovation tournaments organized by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission.

Jean Guo

Jean Guo’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/jean-guo-73a75514/

Jean Guo is the CEO and co-founder of Konexio. She co founded Konexio based on her research as a Fulbright fellow investigating migrant policy at the Paris School of Economics, graduated from Stanford with dual degrees in economics and human biology, and worked as a strategy consultant before moving to Paris.  

For both her and Binta, as children of immigrant families, they saw firsthand the challenges their families faced in navigating the social, cultural, educational, and professional challenges of settling in a new country.

Binta Jammeh
Photo Credit: Maria del Mar Rodriguez

Binta Jammeh’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/binta-jammeh-60b488161/

Binta Jammeh is the COO and co-founder, Konexio. She’s a passionate advocate for global education and intercultural communication, with several years experience in education with vulnerable populations. She has worked with refugee communities in the United States, in early language education in Thailand, and more recently at a high-school in an at-risk community in the suburbs of Paris. Her dedication to helping migrants navigate the cultural and socioeconomic complexities of adapting to life in their new host countries lead her to co-founding Konexio.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

18 Impact Investing Trends You Haven’t Seen Before And 1 You Have

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Below are 19 trends in the impact investing world that are most likely unknown to you, because they are developing in pockets and corners of the arena where most people don’t have visibility. One or two of these may be familiar to readers who work in the space.

One thing is generally recognized. Impact investing is growing. Quickly.

The Global Impact Investing Network recently estimated that there are $228 billion invested in impact, double the prior year estimate.

The trends observed below hint at opportunities for both impact investors and social entrepreneurs. They also suggest hope for the future.

Stephanie Gripne CREDIT: IMPACT FINANCE CENTER

“Zebras fix what unicorns break,” says Stephanie Gripne, founder and CEO of the Impact Finance Center, suggesting a shift to investing in real solutions rather than fictitious ones. “A new stable of investments: if angels invest in unicorns (10x), and heroes invest in racehorses (10%), what about the catalysts (0%) and champions (-65%)?” She is seeing roles for investors across a spectrum of returns—including negative financial returns for the most philanthropically minded investors.

2.

Dave Richards CREDIT: CAPRIA

Dave Richards, managing partner at Capria, has placed investments around the developing world. He observes, “International ‘airplane investing’ is being replaced with investing via smart, professional, on-the-ground investment teams.”

3.

Cecile Blilious CREDIT: IMPACT FIRST INVESTMENTS

International impact investor Cecile Blilious, founder and managing partner at Impact First Investments, observed two parallel trends—one of which she doesn’t like. “Startups adopting business models serving society without saying the word ‘impact.’ Unwanted trend: funds misusing the word ‘impact’ as a marketing tool.”

4.

Morgan Simon CREDIT: CANDIDE GROUP

“People are becoming more conscious consumers of impact investing,” says Morgan Simon, the founding partner of Candide Group. They are now asking, “Is the impact truly transformative, or just making poverty a little more bearable?”

5.

Thane Kreiner CREDIT: THANE KREINER

Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, sees “the mobilization of capital to address refugees, migrants, and human trafficking survivors.”

6.

Candace Smith CREDIT: MICROVEST CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

“Digital finance is making it cheaper and quicker to access financial services; key impact investors are ensuring that a deeply ethical approach will be part of any new delivery mechanism,” says Candace Smith, managing director of risk at MicroVest Capital Management.

7.

Matt Davis CREDIT: RENEW LLC

“Impact investing is cutting into philanthropic dollars earmarked for Africa,” notes Matthew Davis, CEO of Renew LLC. He says this is “appropriate for the African economic story that is unfolding.” Finally, he adds, “DAFs [donor advised funds] are becoming an enabling tool for impact investing.”

8.

Daryl Carter CREDIT: AVANATH CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

In the context of “more capital flows into the impact space,” Daryl J. Carter, CEO of Avanath Capital Management, sees three trends. First, increasing capital from “offshore investors,” second, “more focus on housing affordability,” and third, “increased emphasis on impact measurement.”

9.

Ross Baird CREDIT: VILLAGE CAPITAL

Ross Baird, president of Village Capital, notes that “81% of entrepreneurs raise neither venture capital nor get a bank loan.” He adds, “I’m excited to see investors innovating on alternative financing mechanisms for the vast majority of new businesses.”

10.

Mara Bolis CREDIT: OXFAM AMERICA

“Principles to separate impact investing from conventional forms of finance are coming,” says Mara Bolis, a senior advisor at Oxfam America. “They are critical for establishing impact integrity, for building community and reforming how finance behaves.”

11.

Alix Lebec CREDIT: WATEREQUITY

“Water and sanitation is gaining momentum among impact investors,” says Alix Lebec, executive vice president of investor relations at WaterEquity, which is affiliated with Water.org, famously supported by Matt Damon. “According to the Global Impact Investing Network, 42% of investors plan to increase their investments toward this global challenge.”

12.

Samim Abedi CREDIT: WAYVEMEDIA.COM

“The previous sense that investors were OK sacrificing some return to invest in compliant channels has shifted to the expectation that SRI is expected to keep up with or outperform the broader market,” according to Samim Abedi, global head of portfolios at Wahed Invest, a halal investing platform.

13.

Dave Fanger CREDIT: SWELL INVESTING

“Aligning impact investing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is going to increase in the years ahead,” says Dave Fanger, CEO of Swell Investing. “The goals ensure investors’ dollars work towards solving the world’s greatest challenges.”

14.

Nancy Pfund CREDIT: DBL PARTNERS

“Impact investing: do well by doing good while also protecting nature,” says Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner of DBL Partners, an early investor in Tesla. “The Muse survey finds workers value access to healthy outdoors.” DBL acted on this trend by investing in “America’s first memorial conservation forest.”

15.

Robert Kaplan, Circulate Capital CREDIT: CLOSED LOOP FUND

“As the world’s attention has focused on plastic pollution and health of the ocean, I see huge impact investing opportunity in the solutions to the root causes,” says Robert Kaplan, CEO of Circulate Capital, which was recently formed to take advantage of this opportunity.

16.

Robert Rubinstein CREDIT: TBLI

Robert Rubinstein, founder and chairman of TBLI Group BV, says, “Public transport infrastructure, community banks, small-scale agriculture and hospitality are major trends.”

17.

Joel Solomon CREDIT: RENEWAL FUNDS

Joel Solomon, co-founding partner at Renewal Funds, sees a trend in “the rising push for funding focused specifically on underserved communities of color and women-led companies.”

18.

Laura Callanan CREDIT: UPSTART CO-LAB

“The creative economy–food, fashion, media, entertainment—is what’s next,” according to Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, which “identified 100 impact funds active in the creative economy.” She says, “We need a Creativity Lens to see what’s there.”

19.

Andrea Armeni,CREDIT: TRANSFORM FINANCE

Andrea Armeni, executive director of Transform Finance, sees “a shift in focus from the what–the product or service itself–to the how: how you create impact via an investment’s structure, its effect on all stakeholders, and for whom wealth is created.”

Each of these trends suggests a profitable lesson for impact investors or social entrepreneurs along with guidance for solving the world’s biggest problems.

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

Business Is Booming For This Social Entrepreneur and ‘That’s A Bad Thing’


John Hanrahan, co-founder and medical director of the People’s Health Clinic in Park City, Utah will provide 9,000 patient visits this year to uninsured members of the community. Business is absolutely booming and John says, “that’s a bad thing.”

Don’t misunderstand, he’s thrilled to do the work and proud of the service the organization offers as the primary health care provide for thousands of residents in this small, affluent resort town. His concern stems from the fact that but for this small, nonprofit organization, many of these people would go untreated–some would certainly die.

Hanrahan is also the incoming District Governor for Rotary for the district encompassing the entire state of Utah, including 46 clubs and about 1750 Rotarians. I’m not finished. He’s also the founder of the Hope Alliance, a humanitarian organization serving communities in the developing world.

Interview with John Hanrahan, the Medical Director, Co-Founder of The People’s Health Clinic.

The following is the pre-interview with John Hanrahan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Many people living of our 2 counties do not have any health insurance.  Because of their lack of insurance and access to health care, they do not receive preventive care or appropriate care for chronic conditions.  We provide this care. We keep them out of the hospital and the Emergency Room. We help them lead healthier and more productive lives. We are a medical home for this group.  

More about The People’s Health Clinic:

Twitter: @peopleshealthpc

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peopleshealthclinic

Website: peopleshealthclinic.org

The People’s Health Clinic was founded in December 1999 to provide high quality health care for residents of Summit and Wasatch Counties who do not have health insurance.  We provide primary care for infants to seniors through staff and volunteer providers as well as some specialty care depending on our volunteer providers, as well as a prenatal clinic.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: All patients are asked to make a donation of 25$ at each visit.  More than 85% of our patients are able to do this. People’s Health Clinic is additionally funded by private donors, philanthropic foundations, businesses and trade associations, and municipal governments.  Several fundraising events occur annually as well.

Scale: We are on track to have 9,000 patient visits this year.  This includes primary care, specialty care, referrals, lab visits, and educational visits.  We have one staff MD (myself) a staff Physician Assistant, and 10 additional staff. We have dozens of volunteer providers from various medical fields, as well as dozens of volunteer nurses, translators, patient assistants, etc.  We precept for 3rd year Family Medicine Residents from the University of Utah, medical students, Family Nurse Practitioner students, and physician assistant students. Some of our volunteer providers include infectious disease, Ob/GYN, pediatrics, pharmacy, chiropractor, orthopedics, nutrition, mental health,  neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and others.

John Hanrahan

John Hanrahan’s bio:

Twitter: @JohnHan73581043

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-hanrahan-md-1683b184/

John Hanrahan, MD is the happy father of 2 teens and happy husband of Maura for 30 years.  He is the Medical Director of the People’s Health Clinic, a non-profit providing care to local residents who lack health insurance.  John attended Haverford College, The University of Maryland School of Medicine, and East Carolina University Family Medicine Residency where he served as Chief Resident.  During Residency training, John was selected as the young family physician of the year for the state of North Carolina. He and Maura moved to Park City, UT in 1992 where he joined a private practice.  

John left medicine in 2000 to co-found and run The Hope Alliance, a small international humanitarian organization.  John has led dozens of volunteer groups on medical, public health, and other expeditions in many countries. He also helped found The People’s Health Clinic in 1999.  After years as executive director of The Hope Alliance, John was elected to the Summit County Council and served for 4 years. He reentered medicine in 2011 at his current clinic.  John has volunteered on multiple local Boards. John loves to ski, bike, hike and boat-Park City is perfect!

John joined the Rotary Club of Park City in 2000 and served on the Board for 8 years.  He led the first joint club and Interact expedition internationally to Mexico. John is the District Governor Elect for District 5420, Utah.

He is a member of the Rotary Cadre of Technical Advisors traveling to evaluate projects in Ethiopia and Jamaica. He has been awarded the Rotary Certificate of Meritorious Service, and the Service Above Self Award. John and Maura are major donors, Paul Harris Society members and Bequest Society members.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

Design Thinking May Not Only Change Education, It May Change the World


Kathleen Fritz has been working to teach K-12 teachers how to teach design thinking skills to their students. Along the way, she’s helped them learn skills that improve their teaching in all areas.

Interview with KATHLEEN FRITZ, the Founder/CEO/Instructional Coach of CREATOMbuilder, INC.

The following is the pre-interview with KATHLEEN  FRITZ. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

I started this project five years ago to address the challenge, ” How do you make design thinking accessible to kids?”  I realized that you have to start with teachers first: without them there is no rigor. But this raised a bigger question, “How do you help teachers to make the shift from direct instruction to innovators and facilitators of learning?”

While coaching the teachers of Centennial Academy, Atlanta, GA during a National Science Foundation iCS (integrative computer science) grant (2015-2018) we were exploring ways to combine the design thinking process promoted by organizations like Stanford d.School, and the K12 project-based learning best practices from the Buck Institute.  One day, a 5th grade teacher asked me to create a graphic organizer to help her students follow the design thinking in project based learning process.

The Project Design Canvas was created.  It provides a project workflow, similar to project management, and a method for creating authentic challenges which address learning outcomes.  The project menus and cards help teachers discover opportunities from the curriculum (standards and learning outcomes) and activities so students can engage real end-users in their community.  This aids teachers and students to develop and manage their own authentic projects, and creates an environment to take the intellectual and emotional risks for innovative learning.

Kathleen’s Website:  www.kfritzdesign.com

More about CREATOMbuilder, INC:

Twitter: @creatombuilder

Facebook: facebook.com/CREATOMbuilder

Website: creatomsetgo.com

CREATOMbuilder, Inc. provides design thinking in project-based learning products and professional learning services to the k12 education space.  Our premier product is CREATOMsetgo: a hands-on human-centered design thinking tool which assists teachers in planning rich project based learning (PBL) experiences for and with students.  Its game-based design (project design canvas, menus and card deck) was developed with the input from over 150 Title 1 school teachers throughout the Southern United States. Our goal is to make design thinking accessible to everyone. CREATOMbuilder, Inc. is a for profit corporation registered in the state of Delaware.  Our website is www.creatomsetgo.com

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: We provide products and services through B2B and B2C .  Our products include the CREATOMsetgo project planning toolkit and a project planning guide which will be released in Fall of 2018.  Our services included professional learning in design thinking for project-based learning, teacher and coach-the-coach services, and strategic planning for school/district level administration, and educational organizations.  We also provide curriculum design and coaching to edtech companies and consultants.

Scale: We are a very small company of 1 full time employee (me), and a number of part-time contracting consultants. Since the release of the CREATOMsetgo toolkit on June 24th at ISTE 2017 , we have sold over 800 units to educators in 17 states.  We have coached approximately 350 educators (district and school-wide administration, instructional coaches, and teachers) in five states as contracted professional learning consultants, and have presented to another 300 educators as a conference speaker at ISTE and FETC.

Kathleen Fritz
Photo Credit: Imke Lass Photography

KATHLEEN  FRITZ’s bio:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyfritzcreatombuilder/

Kathleen Fritz is the CEO and founder of CREATOMbuilder, Inc.: a coaching, project design, and strategic planning company for design thinking in project-based learning, and the creator of CREATOMsetgo: The project planning toolkit. She is a designer, educator and entrepreneur. The idea for CREATOMbuilder started when she was a 2011-2012 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar to India  There she worked with the students of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology to develop art and design integrated toolkit for teaching English, math, and computer literacy for rural Indian after-school programs.

Prior to starting CREATOMbuilder, Inc., she was a professor of Interior Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design 2007-2011, and was a lead designer and project manager of architectural interiors for tech, biotech, and life sciences companies, and k12 and higher education in the Boston and greater New England area (1998-2007). Her first career was as a Case Manager and Train-the-Trainer for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (1988-1998).

She holds a BA in Psychology from Gordon College, and a Master of Interior Design (MID) from the Boston Architectural College. She coaches educators and leadership teams throughout the country in design thinking and innovative practices for K12 education.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

This Coffee Shop Proves That Differently Abled People Can Be Well Qualified


After about eight cups of coffee, chatting about the idea of creating a company where they could employ people with disabilities, the pair suddenly hit upon the obvious. They started a coffee shop.

Aspire Chicago works with about 1,000 differently-abled people. To prove how capable they are of succeeding on the job, they created a coffee shop to employ a few. The project seeks to prove that those with disabilities can be well qualified for the job.

Interview with Jim Kales, the CEO of Aspire CoffeeWorks.

The following is the pre-interview with Jim Kales. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Currently, two-thirds of people with developmental disabilities are unemployed. When you combine that with the insufficient funding the state of Illinois provides for employment services for people with developmental disabilities (Illinois’ spending is among the lowest in the nation), the problem is further complicated. Worse yet is that only a small portion of people with developmental disabilities who are employed are actually working in integrated and inclusive workplaces, as opposed to workshops or other types of segregated workplaces.  

Aspire CoffeeWorks provides employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, currently employing five team members with disabilities. Additionally, through our partnerships with companies like Canteen Vending, our distribution partner, this number is expanded to eight team members with disabilities – and counting. In both of these situations, adults with disabilities work in fully integrated environments, side by side with people without disabilities. Lastly, Aspire CoffeeWorks provides crucial additional funding for nonprofit Aspire’s programming to lift up over 1,000 kids and adults with disabilities at Aspire. It’s our hope that through initiatives like Aspire CoffeeWorks, we can break barriers for adults with disabilities in the workforce and show companies the benefits that come along with a diverse workforce.

More about Aspire CoffeeWorks:

Twitter: @CoffeeContessa

Facebook: facebook.com/aspirecoffeeworks/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/aspire-coffeeworks/

Website: aspirecoffeeworks.com/

Aspire CoffeeWorks is a social enterprise coffee company based in Chicago that employs adults with developmental disabilities. Additionally, 100% of the net proceeds benefit nonprofit Aspire, which provides services to support 1,000 kids and adults with disabilities, and their families, each year.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: The majority of Aspire CoffeeWorks’ revenue comes from office coffee sales, and we currently sell to almost 100 companies in Chicago, with an additional handful on the east and west coasts. We also sell direct to consumer through our website, and one blend of our coffee is sold in Chicagoland Whole Foods stores under our roasting partner’s label (Metropolis Coffee Company). We also receive grant funding periodically. For example, we received funding that enabled us to launch “frac packs”, which has given us access to a brand new level of client, as this is how larger companies often receive coffee for the office.

Scale: Our goal for the next fiscal year is to grow revenues to $100,000 so we can help fund more programs and services for kids and adults with disabilities at Aspire. While revenue is a large indicator of our success, so is the number of office coffee clients and the number of employees at those companies who learn about our mission of inclusion. For example, hundreds of people at Motorola Mobility, Beam Suntory and Relativity in Chicago are drinking our coffee every day and learning about the importance of inclusion for people with disabilities as a result. Another goal is to increase office coffee clients from 100 to 150 over the next year in order to generate more revenue and awareness. Lastly, we also hope to grow our team of adults with disabilities from five team members, with three employed at partner companies, to 10 total.

Jim Kales
Photo Credit: Aspire Chicago

Jim Kales’s bio:

Twitter: @AspirePrez

As CEO, Jim works with 200 dynamic team members and Aspire’s Board of Directors to craft strategies that guide Aspire’s four ground-breaking enterprises – Aspire Kids, Aspire Careers, Aspire Living and Aspire CoffeeWorks. Jim has dedicated most of his career to nonprofit (or “for purpose”) work, including serving as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County, and as the director of communications for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. Jim graduated summa cum laude with honors from Bucknell University, and received his Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

Could Crickets Be Our Future Food? Chirps Sells Chips From Crickets Today!


Animal agriculture as practiced today is not only cruel to the animals but also harsh on the environment, requiring huge tracts of land, vast quantities of water and producing millions of tons of carbon every year. Could eating bugs be the solution to save the environment?

Rose Wang founded Chirps to make tortilla chips out of crickets. These high-protein snacks taste great–say the daring kids who eat them.

Already for sale across the country, Chirps require less water and land to produce per pound than beef and produces only a tiny fraction of the carbon.

Interview with Rose Wang, the CEO/co-founder of Chirps.

The following is the pre-interview with Rose Wang. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

The livestock industry is the biggest contributor to environmental problems, and we can tackle the four largest issues in food today – clean water, food waste, food miles, and greenhouse gas emissions – with insect protein!

More about Chirps:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chirpschips

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chirpschips

Website: chirpschips.com

At Chirps, our goal is to fundamentally shift the food system by first replacing resource-intensive proteins, like soy and whey protein, with sustainable cricket protein, and in the future, create meat replacements with insect protein. Our first product is cricket chips, or Chirps. They are a tortilla chip with as much protein per serving as an egg white. We see Chirps as the first product in a line of insect foods from snacks to meat to get Americans excited about eating bugs!

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: We sell cricket chips 🙂

Scale: We’re in 1200+ stores across with nation, exporting to several different countries, and we are six full-time in SF.

Rose Wang
Photo Credit: Rose Skegg

Rose Wang’s bio:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosewang20/

Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Chirps, a company that makes healthy, delicious, and sustainable foods with insects. She is a Forbes 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, ELLE USA Impact Award winner, Echoing Green climate fellow, MassChallenge Gold Winner, Harvard Dean’s Design Challenge winner, BHSI fellow, Global Good Fund fellow, and TEDx speaker. Rose worked in strategy and marketing at Abercrombie and Microsoft. She also has a passion for education and sits on the board of an education non-profit, Wema Inc., in Kenya. Rose is a graduate of Harvard College.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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!

With Help From Rotary, This Clinic Offers Leading Neurorehabilitation in Africa


Mo Sbai lost his brother to a tragic accident that left him struggling for years to regain full capacity. The loss inspired him to open a neurorehabilitation clinic in Marrakech. It has become one of the leading clinics of its type in all of Africa.

Mo lives and works in Salt Lake City but hails from Morocco. Working with his Salt Lake Rotary Club, he obtained multiple grants that include funds from the Rotary Foundation that have enabled him to launch this important piece of the healthcare system in his native country.

Interview with Mo Sbai, the Co-founder and CEO of The MAIR clinic.

The following is the pre-interview with Mo Sbai. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We are creating first access to adequate neurorehabilitation in Morocco

More about The MAIR clinic:

Twitter: @MAIR_Marrakech

Website: www.mair-rehab.com

Located in Marrakech, Morocco (North Africa), MAIR is a private, not-for-profit clinic specializing in medical treatment and research in the field of neuro-rehabilitation. We provide services to children and adults with cerebral palsy and its complications, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and many other neurological conditions.

For-profit/Nonprofit: Not-For-Profit, self-sustaining in the long-term

Scale: We are not focused on making money, but we need to be self-sustaining in the long-term

Mo Sbai

Mo Sbai’s bio:

Mo is research professor in clinical neurosciences with the University of Utah Brain Institute and the School of Medicine. He he holds a Ph.D in neurosciences from the University of Paris and and MS in molecular neuro-receptology from the Ecole Normal Superieure and University of Paris. After completing a successful post-doctoral training in neuro-genetics and cloning a new gene at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, he was invited to join the New Jersey Medical School as a research faculty where he focused on cancer biology. In 2007, Mo’s brother, Moulay Ali, passed away as a consequence of a severe traumatic brain injury he suffered several years prior while driving in Morocco. This caused Mo to focus his teaching and research on neurological conditions (like TBI, SCI, Stroke, AD, PD, MS and others) as well as cutting-edge neuro-rehabilitation. In 2015, together with Imane Bentahar and many others, Mo co-founded the Moulay Ali Institute for Rehabilitation in Marrakech City, Morocco, the first of its kind. This facility is experiencing exponential growth and already having huge impact on so many lives.

Imane Bentahar

Imane Bentahar’s bio:

Imane is physical therapist by training but since getting involved in the MAIR project (early 2014), she developed skills in neurological rehabilitation. She is also the person who first collaborated in the opening of the MAIR clinic as a co-founder and a recipient of specialized neuro-rehabilitation training both in Morocco and the United States.


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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!

These 2 Are Having Fun While Making Money and Doing Good


Zach Adamson and David Monhait, co-founders of DIVERTbrands, have found a way to do what they love, have fun, do good and make money. They are living the dream!

Interview with Zach Adamson, the Founder and CEO, and David Monhait, the Co-Founder & President of DIVERTbrands.

The following is the pre-interview with Zach Adamson and David Monhait. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

While interest has never been higher, action sports as they currently exist are out of reach to many due to geographic and financial barriers to participation. Concurrently, traditional education continues to exclude education in desired creative fields like music, art, media, and more.

These barriers and exclusions make at-risk youth more susceptible to negative influences and life choices.

DIVERT removes these barriers, making both the athletics and creative lifestyles more accessible to anyone. We DIVERT their attention away from negative influences and towards positive ones that align with the interest of today’s youth culture.

More about DIVERTbrands:

Instagram: @divertcollective

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/divertcollective/

Website: divertcollective.com

DIVERTbrands is a family of companies who believe that action sports have the power to inspire and empower on a massive scale. Because of that our shared goal is to make action sports and the surrounding lifestyles, like music, art, and media, more accessible.

The companies within DIVERTbrands are:

DIVERTagency – A boutique agency focused on creating cause marketing campaigns and initiatives that create new revenue opportunities for today’s top brands.

DIVERTcollective – A merchandise and apparel brand whose proceeds go to fund programs and initiatives that make action sports and the surrounding lifestyles more accessible.

DIVERTsessions – A 25000 sf facility that includes skateboarding, surfing, skiing and snowboarding that are enhanced with digital layers and virtual experiences. Supporting these attractions are a media lab, music stage, food/beverage, retail and more.

DIVERTcity – An 8 acre park that includes skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, mountain biking, a creative and media lab, music venue, food/beverage, retail, and more.

Together, these companies enable anyone to “Achieve Their I’mpossible”

For-profit/Nonprofit: B-Corp / Social Enterprise

Revenue model: DIVERTagency – services fees

DIVERTcollective – revenue from sale of soft and hard goods

DIVERTsessions & DIVERTcity – ticketing, events, rentals, retail sales, concession sales, programming and lessons, media, and more.

Scale: DIVERTagency – 3-5 employees / DIVERTcollective – over $350k revenue in first 3 months, over 50,000 units sold / DIVERTsessions & DIVERTcity – currently fundraising

Zach Adamson

Zach Adamson’s bio:

Twitter: @zach_adamson

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zach-adamson-94b95a35/

Zach is an accomplished entrepreneur, experience designer and operator. His previous work includes transforming facilities, events, products and organizations of Fortune 500 companies into world class experiences. His work with Disney Imagineers, and pioneers in experience design/operation have provided consistent applications in business strategy, implementation and expansion. His passion in Action Sports and social change, intersects with his talents in experience design and operation to create a powerful leader and change maker at DIVERTbrands.

David Monhait

David Monhait’s bio:

Twitter: @davidmonhait

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmonhait/

David grew up skateboarding and snowboarding in the suburbs outside of Chicago. These sports, and the subculture surrounding them, taught him valuable life lessons like creativity, motivation, resilience, and developed his appetite for risk.

He continued on to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder where he studied Architecture and Planning. Throughout college, David was a sponsored skateboarder and an All-American snowboarder.

He returned to Chicago where he worked as an achitect for 5-years. During that time, he started moonlighting on startup ventures. The first, Electronic Spotlight, a docu-series that started on Youtube and after being backed by CAA and Den of Theives, aired on TV. Around the same time, David and his friends created Sin Label, a live event consultancy and event promotions web application that enabled nightclubs and venues to promote using crowdsourced influencers.

After realizing his knack for creating startups, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue ventures that were more aligned with his passion – action sports.

He consulted on various ventures such as Revel, SpotKing, RideBlock, and more until he joined DIVERT.


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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!

NPX Achieves First Close With New Impact Security; Raises $800k For The Last Mile

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Last December, I reported here that NPX, Inc., had developed a new concept for financing nonprofits called an “impact security.” In May, the nonprofit The Last Mile closed on $800,000 of financing using the new instrument.

How it works:

According to Princeton educated Catarina Schwab, 44, NPX’s co-founder, “The Impact Security allows a nonprofit to issue performance-based debt to investors and make required payments on the debt over time with donations from the established donor fund.”

The $800,000 came from a group of investors who hope to get their money back with interest. Having an impact priority in mind, they don’t have an interest in financial outcomes. Instead, they want their return to be entirely dependent on achieving a measurable outcome.

In this case, the measurable outcome is hours worked by inmates at tech jobs provided by The Last Mile. The inmates are paid about $17 per hour, a rate set by the prison. The investors paid $44.44 per hour for 18,000 hours. The margin goes to the nonprofit.

The investors only get their money back if all 18,000 hours are worked. A group of donors has contributed to donor-advised funds a total of $900,000 or $50 per hour worked. If all the hours are worked, the money goes to The Last Mile to repay the investors with interest. If fewer hours are worked, the nonprofit won’t receive funds to repay investors. The donors’ money that doesn’t go to The Last Mile, can then be redirected by the donors to other initiatives at their discretion.

The Last Mile:

With more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States and up to 70 million formerly incarcerated, helping those currently serving sentences to gain not only job skills but professional work experience could be a key to reducing recidivism—and by extension the crime and cost of jailing repeat offenders.

Catarina Schwab CREDIT: NPX, INC.

Beverly Parenti, executive director of The Last Mile, said in a statement, “NPX has transformed fundraising for nonprofits. The Impact Security enables us to focus on creating impact rather than hosting events and other fundraising tactics.”

Schwab, who shares the CEO with co-founder Lindsay Beck, describes The Last Mile as “the darling of the prison system” based on their work at San Quentin. “They’ve seen a huge transformation from these incarcerated individuals learning how to code,” she adds.

NPX Going Forward:

The NPX innovation can be replicated.

Joe Wolf is an investor in both NPX and in The Last Mile impact security. He says, “The impact security is a brilliant solution for all parties in the transaction. Donors are able to increase the impact on each dollar committed; investors are able to generate a profit while driving social good; and, nonprofits that can demonstrate measurable impact can raise capital in a vastly more effective manner vs current options.”

Scott Wu, partner and head of investments at Omidyar Network, led the firm’s investment in The Last Mile. He was impressed.

“NPX is a leader in pioneering and standardizing a new pay-for-performance impact security. Such a model could dramatically increase capital flows to the non-profit sector by enabling investors to earn returns based on defined impact results, and by bringing more rigor and diligence in non-profit performance to attract increased philanthropic donations.”

As you might expect, innovation comes from a startup. NPX is itself an early stage social enterprise. To continue to support more nonprofits with impact securities it will need to create its own success. Schwab reports that the firm has raised three rounds of seed capital and has secured four engagements with nonprofits.

For the transaction with The Last Mile, NPX received a fee at closing.

“We are now pivoting to a donor fund model where we will receive a management fee on the fund and transaction fees per Impact Security deal,” Schwab explains. “The fund model will allow us to scale the number of Impact Securities at a faster rate to unlock more capital and data for the nonprofit sector.”

Schwab is passionate about what the impact security could portend not just for the nonprofit sector but for the world.

“Linking donations with impact creates a tremendously valuable feedback loop that is missing in today’s nonprofit funding environment,” she said. “The ripple effect is profound. By simply changing the way we fund impact, over time the new model will catalyze more money, more data, and, ultimately, more impact in the sector.”

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


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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!

This Veteran Seeks To Reinvent The Employment Ecosystem For Salaried Careers

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Felix W. Ortiz III, 34, is a U.S. Army veteran who is working to reinvent the process of employment for salaried positions, especially in the tech sector, by focusing on skills rather than degrees. Working with companies, colleges and candidates, the social enterprise he leads as CEO and founder, Viridis Learning, Inc., has built a platform for all three to use to better match people with opportunities.

Mark Thain, director of social innovation at Barclays, explains the challenges that inspired the bank to back Acumen’s Workforce Development portfolio, which includes an investment in Viridis. “We recognize that to have a meaningful impact on employability we need to look towards entrepreneurial models in the workforce development sector and support those innovators who are coming at this problem with scalable, self-sustaining solutions.”

“In the U.S., there is a real need for innovation in workforce development. For underserved communities, it is often a challenge of connectivity and having limited access to appropriate pathways into employment. The problem is particularly acute in middle-skilled trades, where as many as 40% of employers struggle to find the right talent, yet less than half of qualified candidates can find jobs,” he added.

That is just what Viridis is working to do, Ortiz says. “We are committed to solving the global skills gap by closing the broken education-to-employment feedback loop through data interoperability and the Skill Passport, a verified record of skill and experience with currency in an ever-evolving job market.”

The Skill Passport, he explains, is an immutable digital record of mastered skills that employers can use to match people to skilled positions.

Ortiz sees this as a social problem to be solved as well as an opportunity. In fact, the company’s pilot program was with 5,000 formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. Ortiz says Viridis was able to help 70% of them find employment and 62% of those to keep their jobs. Average salaries jumped from a range of $18,000 to $21,000 to $32,000 to $33,000.

“We first started with the formerly incarcerated community because we knew that if we can impact those lives with our algorithms they can work with pretty much anybody,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz notes that the algorithms that drive the Skill Passport seek not only to capture hard skills like coding but also soft skills like grit. The experience you get as a veteran or growing up in a tough environment can teach you to overcome challenges, something that is both difficult to teach in a classroom and that is prized by employers.

Felix Ortiz, Viridis Learning
CREDIT: DENIZ ERCELEBI

Another pilot effort was with San Jose City College, a community college in Silicon Valley. This provided an opportunity to test the hypothesis that the Skill Passport could help place alumni who hadn’t completed a four-year degree in IT jobs. Not only has it worked for the alumni, he says it has helped with corporate diversity goals as well.

The Skill Passport works for the colleges as well, helping them to focus on training skills the employers want. “The curriculum is misaligned, and that money is being mis-utilized because they’re training people for things that aren’t relevant,” Ortiz says.

It’s working for employers, too. “They realize that they have a problem and the problem is that they can’t find the talent.” The Viridis approach provides employers with access to a pipeline of employees from nontraditional sources that are properly vetted.

Ortiz remains focused on the mission of giving more people better access to successful careers. “You know, we shouldn’t be limiting the ability for me to be a tech founder just because I haven’t connected with certain people. If you’re good enough you should have the opportunity.”

Click here to get my free webinar showing the three myths that hamper and the two keys for nonprofit crowdfunding success.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

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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