“In my experience as an engineer, design thinker, and scientist, I rarely paid attention to bias because I did not see it. Many thanks to the Impact Experience organizers and the Stanford psychology department research team for their groundbreaking work. They have found a way to make the invisible visible.” - Ade Mabogunje, Senior Researcher, Stanford University
We tap into the expertise of groups to generate innovative solutions that accelerate a transformation and create concrete action plans that get partnership commitments. We apply and combine elements from the disciplines of systems transformation and organizational development into a unique experiential learning curricula. Our methodology incorporates the UN Sustainable Development Goals Framework.
We believe diversity, equity and inclusion are critical in all aspects of the investment process — from who invests the money and who receives it, to how it is used and the impact it has. That’s why we work to ensure maximum diversity in every Impact Experience. Participants include impact investors, philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, corporate executives, local community leaders, students, government officials, artists, and impact entrepreneurs.
Offered both online and in-person, Impact Experiences typically include 20 to 30 participants and last between one and a half to three days. To more intimately understand the challenges groups are facing, the expertly-facilitated process may include site visits and conversations with local leaders, where possible.
Impact Experience is Equity focused across four sectors: Investment, Education, Health, and Environment.
More than 50% of nonprofits within the U.S suffer from frequent or chronic budget deficits, and those led by people of color receive even less funding with more strings attached. Without an endowment to sustain these non-profits, many are forced to fundraise to meet their basic operational need, which requires more manpower and time that ultimately diverts the organization away from its intended mission and purpose.
The Re+Fund Impact Experience focused on creating an avenue for non-profit organizations to receive and generate more equitable and sustainable funding. This convening gathered a select group of leaders and advocates to co-design a model supporting non-profits and social impact organizations within the U.S. in gaining financial independence through the democratization of investment access. The research and learnings from the Re+Fund initiative will be elevated for others to continue building upon and put into practice.
Women of color are among the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. However, less than 5% of small business lending goes toward supporting women-run businesses, particularly businesses run by women of color. To address the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs of color, the Wisdom Fund and CNOTE commissioned Impact Experience to oversee a human centered design research initiative aimed at identifying the mechanisms for removing barriers faced by women of color when applying for loans, and to cultivate more expansive networks for these women in order to spur business growth and promote more equitable opportunities for wealth creation.
Impact Experience convened more than 30 women of color borrowers and lenders for a two-day virtual experience which revealed ongoing challenges and surfaced new opportunities towards unlocking more capital for women of color. Research participants represented a diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, industries, geographic regions, and stages of business. This research will culminate in a report authored by Impact Experience, guided by the insights that surfaced during the convening, and by surveys and interviews of 60+ women of color business owners. Additionally, Impact Experience surveyed more than 20 CDFIs, capital providers, and intermediaries to better understand the challenges that community lenders face when women of color come to them for lending.
Please see here for a link to the final report that we put together in collaboration with CNote -
Illumen Capital and Impact Experience have brought multiple groups to Montgomery, Alabama to host leading asset managers, family offices, foundations and entrepreneurs representing over $50 billion in assets under management to explore the ways in which the history of racial terror has affected the asset management industry, and how we can use this context to create ways to reduce bias and stop the underestimation of women and people of color within the asset management business.
Impact Experience brought together more than 90 leading impact investors, entrepreneurs, universities, and innovators to develop a regional economic transition strategy alongside local leaders in Williamson, connecting them to global networks of talent and capital.
Williamson, WV was fighting for its survival in the wake of the coal crisis. In the past four years, the county had lost more than 2,000 jobs, roughly 25% of its workforce. The community was also battling some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and opioid addiction in the country. Read more...
YERBA BUENA CENTER OF ARTS, CULTURE BANK
The Challenge: Impact Experience has partnered with the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts on the Culture Bank Initiative (www.culturebank.org) to develop business models to redefine the relationship between artist entrepreneurs and investors so that it is non extractive and fully values the artists' contribution. This project further focuses on the artist entrepreneurs’ relevance in the face of major challenges, specifically mental health. Check here the Case Stories that we developed in partnership with CultureBank
Impact Experience has partnered with the Sapelo Foundation to focus on Impact Investing and working with marginalized communities to build inclusive business models and strategies to address some of the most pressing problems of racial equity, the opioid epidemic and economic development. For more information about the Georgia Impact Experience, please see: https://www.ncfp.org/blog/2018/jun-dedicated-community-drives-change-in-rural-south.html
In partnership with Stanford SPARQ, a renowned social psychology research center, Impact Experience brought together 17 leaders in impact investing, technology, and entrepreneurship to explore issues of implicit bias in impact investing.
Women and minority entrepreneurs receive disproportionately less investment capital, making it difficult for those structurally disadvantaged by society to build businesses and affect change in their communities. Read more...
The Adasina ETC Group Impact Experience was designed to address implicit bias, structural racism and co-create solutions to these and other challenges across systems of agriculture and food access and production. The goal was to develop better ways to shift public capital markets towards more equitable agricultural practices by discussing the nuances and diverse perspectives of farmers, researchers, asset managers, and community leaders to build better systems and institute benchmarks that support the sustainable implementation of new systems.
As part of an ongoing effort, Impact Experience has engaged with a number of local partners in Houston to drive a diverse, inclusive and equitable rebuilding process. Having already engaged 50 participants immediately after the Hurricane, we are building on insights across a number of key areas including: social, economic, health, psychological and environmental challenges.
We will continue to build on each of the commitments from entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and the community itself to inform insights for marginalized communities and those trying to support them.
“As we begin to rebuild the homes, the businesses, and the new landmarks of Sonoma County, our artistic Second Responders will be at work cobbling back together the pieces of our souls, helping us pave the pathway to hope.” - Kristen Madsen
In October 2017, destructive fires swept across Sonoma County in what is now referred to as the Northern California Firestorm. The fire has destroyed over 36,000 acres of land with an economic loss of $1.2 billion. What these numbers don’t tell us is the long-term devastation that the fires have had on the residents of Sonoma County. For families across the county, the process of rebuilding homes and lives has been a long and tenuous journey.
During times of devastation and loss, artist and creative communities play an integral role in instilling a sense of solidarity and hope. Using art as a tool to gather community, we have found that across communities in the U.S. from New Orleans, Houston, Puerto Rico, to Sonoma County, artist-entrepreneurs are at the heart of rebuilding the hearts and minds of families. Artist-entrepreneurs have the unique ability to address intergenerational trauma that cannot be rebuilt through building material infrastructure. The trauma is deeply embedded in the history, culture, and souls of individuals who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice in the wake of a disaster. In order to address these challenges, it is important to gain a deeper look into ourselves as individuals and how we can harness the power of the community.
On July 12, 2019, Impact Experience brought together artists, foundations, and entrepreneurs for “A Pause” to carve out intentional time and space to share lessons learned from across communities, explore areas of intersection, and co-develop opportunities to strengthen local creative communities. The inspiration behind this Impact Experience comes from our previous engagement in New Orleans where we brought a Sonoma County delegation together with Houston, South Carolina, and New Orleans communities to share lessons learned and best practices in the rebuild process in response to climate disasters. As part of our brainstorming strategy session, the Sonoma delegation expressed interest in supporting a more inclusive and equitable artist-entrepreneur ecosystem in their community. Our Sonoma Impact Experience also drew from a collective vision from the Map One Sonoma Strategy Summit with the aim to “launch a new story where all Sonomans see themselves as investors in an equitable and regenerative future through an appreciation for our cultural wealth by the end of 2020.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Impact Experience has partnered with Miriam Rivera (https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/experience/news-history/miriam-rivera-elected-stanford-trustee-receives-2008-porras) to address key needs facing the Island in the rebuilding process including restoring key services, economic development and the role of impact investors in getting community input into the rebuilding process.
CASE STUDY: NEW ORLEANS INCLUSIVE RESILIENCY AND RECOVERY
THE STEVE FUND
The Impact Experience team hosted delegates from New Orleans, Sonoma County, Houston and other Resilient communities throughout the country. The aim was to share best practices and learnings across Inclusive Resiliency and Recovery efforts. The urgency that marks disaster relief efforts affords great challenges and also powerful insights regarding what is possible with limited time and resources. There are no easy answers and every region needs tailored preparedness plans and recovery protocols. Best practices regarding: housing, access to water and food, inclusive preparedness strategies and other domains were explored.
On October 1-2, Impact Experience hosted an Impact Experience at Stanford in collaboration with The Steve Fund, an organization focused on supporting the mental and emotional well-being of youth and adolescents of color.
Many factors can adversely impact the mental and emotional well-being of youth and adolescents of color including discrimination, stigma, cultural mistrust of health care professionals, and feelings of isolation. In order to tackle these mental health care disparities, we must collectively work toward a more inclusive and equitable approach.
In this convening, The Steve Fund and Impact Experience brought together a diverse group of committed stakeholders - investors, foundations, public health researchers, entrepreneurs, mental health experts, technology companies and community leaders - to collaboratively ideate innovative solutions to tackle challenges related to mental health disparities and develop creative, intentional programs in the Bay Area for youth and young adults of color.
The Impact Experience team host ongoing Health Equity Impact Experiences. Leaders from medicine, biopharma, health plans, public health departments and financial firms as well as from community-based and philanthropic healthcare organizations come together to explore implicit bias, deepen understanding of structural racism and co-create solutions to challenges to be implemented within their organizations. In partnership with Nina Kjellson, General Partner at Canaan and Health Innovator Fellow with the Aspen Institute, Impact Experience provides integrated data and storytelling as participants explore the ways in which structural bias continues to influence healthcare outcomes.
The foundation for the Health Equity Impact Experience is grounded in Montgomery, Alabama a city with deep historical roots in the Atlantic and domestic slave trade and one of the birthplaces of the Civil Rights movement.
During the Health Equity Impact Experience, provocateurs provide the foundation of engagement around the unique and nuanced challenges and opportunities within the healthcare industry. The convergence of data and experience sheds light on long-standing, systemic biases that perpetuate adverse health outcomes for people of color. By deepening the understanding of the legacy of slavery, racial terror, government-sponsored compulsory sterilization, medical violence, and present-day manifestations of the structures that continue to uphold and perpetuate inequity and injustice within our healthcare systems and communities, participants build a community and support system in order to catalyze future programs and interventions.
Impact Experience partnered with Illumen Capital and Stanford University SPARQ to convene a group of 30 investors, venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, academics, foundation directors and financial advisors to discuss the effects of implicit bias in the financial services sector. SPARQ researchers shared important findings from their research examining both the causes and detrimental effects of implicit bias, as well as potential methodologies for reducing bias in the workplace.
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
On March 28-29, 2019, we brought together tribal leaders, university leaders, fund managers, philanthropists, and community leaders to collectively brainstorm equitable and inclusive strategies for Opportunity Zones in Arizona. The convening was hosted by Arizona State University on the Tempe campus. The Impact Experience focused on discussing and ideating solutions across sectors to spur collaboration and ensure inclusive and equitable economic development that maximizes the potential for the social and environmental impact of Opportunity Zones in Arizona. We are excited to continue to engage with the Arizona community around the implementation of impact-oriented Opportunity Zone projects.
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