McKinsey Report: The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap on America’s Schools


McKinsey’s Social Sector Office, here’s a report on The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap on America’s Schools:

The report finds that the underutilization of human potential as reflected in the achievement gap is extremely costly. Existing gaps impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession—one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing. For individuals, avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy and often tragic consequences via lower earnings, poor health, and higher rates of incarceration.

Download the PDF here.

India’s First Social Enterprise and Investment Forum, Aims to Shape the Future of Inclusive Capitalism

More than 300 social entrepreneurs, a plethora of international and regional investors, funding agencies, corporate houses, and philanthropic organizations will come together on Tuesda, April 28, 2009 in Mumbai in an event that will change the landscape of social investing in India. Come and be a part of this landmark event!

Sankalp (English: Pledge or Determination) is India’s first Social Enterprise and Investment Forum with the primary goal of bringing together various stakeholders sharing a common conviction that capital should be invested to create multiple bottom-line returns (financial, social and environmental) and not exclusively financial (profit-maximizing) or social (philanthropic) returns.

Set against the background in India, where 924.1 million Indians (nearly 95% of India’s population) have incomes below USD 3000 per annum in local purchasing power, and 78% of this from rural India, India has been able to clock growth rates between 6.5% and 7% despite the slowdown. India presents us with questions of development coupled with the unlimited potential of an emerging market.

The event endeavours to recognise and award truly impactful enterprises and catalyze investments in sectors such as agriculture and rural innovations, affordable education, healthcare inclusion, environment and clean energy, and highly scalable social models.

At a time when investors are looking for sustainable returns, Sankalp presents opportunities to engage with the emerging class of impact investors and connect with evolving yet investible ideas in high impact sectors. The primary aim is to create a holistic ecosystem to facilitate catalytic growth in these recession proof sectors which yield lower longer term returns.

Sankalp 2009 will feature a stellar line up of thought leaders, luminaries, and speakers including Naina Lal Kidawai, CEO of HSBC India, Vijay Mahajan, CEO of Basix, Anthony Bugg Levine of Rockefeller Foundation, Gurcharan Das (former MD P&G), Sarath Naru of Venture East, and Vineet Rai, founder Aavishkar.

Sankalp Forum is the brainchild of Intellecap – a pioneer in the multiple bottom line investment industry. The key partners for the inaugural 2009 event include Rockefeller Foundation from the US, Rianta Capital from UK, National Bank for Rural and Agriculture Development (NABARD) and Rural Innovations Network (RIN).

Sankalp Forum will be held in Mumbai, India, on April 28th at the Taj Land’s End and additional details can be found at

WaPo: Though Popular, ‘Causes’ Ineffective for Fundraising


The Facebook application Causes, hugely popular among nonprofit organizations seeking to raise money online, has been largely ineffective in its first two years, trailing direct mail, fundraising events and other more traditional methods of soliciting contributions.

Only a tiny fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that have turned to Causes as an inexpensive and green way to seek donations have brought in even $1,000, according to data available on the Causes developers’ site. The application allows Facebook users to list themselves as supporters of a cause on their profile pages. But fewer than 1 percent of those who have joined a cause have actually donated money through that application.

Continue reading at WaPo

Skoll Starts The Urgent Threats Fund, will be led by Dr. Larry Brilliant


Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, has donated $100 million to start a new foundation to address urgent threats like water shortages, pandemics and the Middle East conflict.

The organization, the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, will be led by Dr. Larry Brilliant, the iconoclastic public health expert and technology entrepreneur who until February headed up Google’s philanthropic enterprise,

continue reading at NYT

WSJ: Economic downturn hasn’t hurt interest in socially responsible investing

Investors, it seems, still have a proclivity toward good.

So notes Ingrid Saukaitis Dyott, co-manager of Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive Fund (symbol: NBSRX), who says that the economic downturn hasn’t hurt interest in socially responsible investing.

The Socially Responsive Fund is still seeing investor inflows despite the global economic downturn, Ms. Dyott says. Hard times can bring out the best in investors and companies, she said, noting that funds didn’t yield to pressure after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when some called for screens blocking investment in weapons companies to be dropped.

Continue reading at WSJ

Job: Executive Director Position with StartingBloc

StartingBloc is currently seeking a talented and dynamic new Executive Director to lead a small and highly mission-driven organization into its next phase of growth and to ensure StartingBloc’s continued and sustainable recognition as a leader in the fields of social innovation, social entrepreneurship, cross-sector partnerships, and sustainability. Working closely with the Director of Programs, Board of Directors, and an engaged group of StartingBloc alumni, the Executive Director will have primary responsibility for all management and leadership functions, including fundraising and partnership-building, strategic planning, financial management, infrastructure and growth development, board of directors’ development, as well as programmatic impact.

Please see PDF here.

Coffee Connections, a New Social Venture Concept is Starting Up in Kenya

Margaret is a Coffee Connections farmer in Kenya.  She has been a coffee farmer for decades, but during last year’s harvest she only made 0.02USD per lb of coffee sold.  That same lb of coffee was sold for over 12.00 USD in western markets. Margaret can not afford to keep her daughter in school any longer, because her coffee sells for so little. 

Coffee Connections works to alleviate rural poverty through moving the coffee of impoverished farmers, such as Margaret, up the value chain. This program will increase her annual income by 7000% and give her a stake-hold in a farmer owned coffee company in the USA.  Please vote for Coffee Connections on www.ideablob.comto ensure the much needed start-up funding is obtained. To stay up to date with Coffee Connections, please click here.

Cards From Africa- A Successful Social Enterprise in Rwanda

I found this social enterprise quite intriguing: Cards From Africa

We are a Rwandan social enterprise you might be interested in blogging about, especially with the 15th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide coming up soon. Cards from Africa provides employment handcrafting greeting cards to young people in Rwanda who have been orphaned by the genocide and now serve as heads of households. With the strong wages they receive, these orphans are able to provide for their younger siblings and keep them in school, thus improving their future prospects. I have attached our press release to this email.

We are working to raise awareness of the aftermath of the genocide, as well as of the innovative strategies that are being used to rebuild the nation. We hope you would be interested in writing about us! Please let me know if you have any questions, or if we could be of further assistance.

From the press release:

Fifteen years after the Rwandan genocide left behind a generation without parents, Cards from Africa is commemorating the anniversary by celebrating the lives of orphaned young people transformed through a unique combination of work and mentorship.

“Every day used to be so difficult,” recounts Florance Uwingeneye, who lost both parents and a younger sister in the 1994 genocide. “All the things we had while our parents were alive disappeared. Since I joined Cards from Africa, my life has changed tremendously.”
Read the entire release here

MicroMentor 2.0 supports local small businesses by providing entrepreneurs with access to one-on-one mentoring

Check out MicroMentor:

“MicroMentor’s commitment to helping micro and small business owners start and grow their enterprises successfully, is directly aligned with the Citi Foundation’s commitment to the economic empowerment of individuals in need, so that they can improve their standard of living,” said Amy Feldman, Program Officer, Citi Foundation. “We are very pleased to be the primary funder of MicroMentor 2.0.”

To participate in MicroMentor, mentors must have significant business experience (usually three or more years of management), and mentees must be actively starting or growing a small business. For more information about the program or to become a mentor or mentee please visit:

The International Youth Initiative Program

YIP is a new social entrepreneur training in Järna, Sweden, for youth aged 18 to 25 who want to create a positive social change in the world. It’s basically a course in how to bring your own initiative into being. YIP brings in experienced international course leaders to teach a wide array of topics, teaching the skills needed to run a project. There is also artistic work and internships.

The first year started up last August, and we have 39 participants from 18 countries (all continents represented), speaking 25 different languages. From the very first day, the participants have shown that they abound with initiative. (I am amazed they get time to sleep!) The impressions from friends and relatives following the participants from home is strong: some have tears of joy when seeing how participants are blossoming and taking responsibility for the world and their own life.

You can also read more about the program at the web site: (You can read participant contributions here) I can also recommend you the public lectures podcasts. The participants are currently organizing the conference “360° Exploring Community” (, 11-17 July.

Application for the next YIP year closes 30 June 2009.