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October 1, 2014

Impact Investing: A Learning Journey

Every day at SV2, we strive to unleash the resources and talents of the Silicon Valley community in support of promising social ventures to achieve measurable impact.

Impact investing holds promise as a powerful potential tool in the SV2 community’s social change toolkit, complementing our longstanding high-impact, capacity building focused grantmaking, Partner-powered beyond-the-dollars support of Grantees, and, most recently, our exciting collective impact work through The Big Lift.

Impact investing, simply put, is investing with the intention to produce both a social or environmental and a financial return.  

The vision for SV2’s nascent impact investing initiative, informed by recent Partner-powered design sessions, is three-pronged: (1) building SV2 community members’ capacity to be discerning consumers of impact investing opportunities, (2) unlocking additive resources for high-potential social ventures to increase their impact, and (3) learning what SV2 could do as a nonprofit organization in the rapidly evolving impact investing space that would be aligned with our unique, collaborative experiential learning model.  A huge thank you to Partner Karl Matzke for stepping up to lead this initiative and to the many others of you who have volunteered to help.

This Friday, October 3, from 12:00 - 2:00pm, we are hosting our first interactive Springboard Session -- Impact Investing: Aligning your Portfolio with your Values.  We are fortunate to have a stellar lineup, including Kat Taylor from Beneficial State Bank, who will share her own impact investing journey, and Fran Seegull of ImpactAssets and Julia Sze of Sonen Capital, who will provide an overview of the many impact investing options emerging along the investment spectrum. Space is limited so please RSVP soon using this link to reserve your spot.  If you are unable to come, don't fret!  We will be videotaping the session, and will share the link with you as soon as it is available.

SV2 will be co-sponsoring another impact investing learning opportunity with Santa Clara University, The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW), TONIIC, and the K.L. Felicitas Foundation, called "Pathways to Impact Investing", an in-depth three-day session at Santa Clara University on October 27-29.  This is a rare opportunity to dig into impact investing in greater detail, build your impact investing “chops,” and thereby amplify your social impact.  More info and registration here. There is a discount for SV2 Partners and Grantees.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at both sessions!  We also invite you to ask questions about this new initiative, join the conversation, and stay up-to-date on this developing topic through SV2’s Impact Investing Google Group by emailing Lisa Van Dusen at

Huge Wins for The Big Lift!
by Education Partner Co-Leads Jody Chang & Marcia Pade

The Big Lift, a collective impact initiative structured around raising third grade reading proficiency in San Mateo County schools, was selected this past spring as SV2’s newest Education Grantee.  We are delighted to update the community on several exciting new developments!

First, The Big Lift has won a highly selective federal Social Innovation Fund grant of $16.5M over the next five years ($7.5M now, with $9M more to come in years 4 and 5 if results are proven). You can read the press release here.

The Big Lift has also been awarded a $500,000 Kellogg Foundation grant specifically for its work in family engagement. This grant was also highly selective, with only 30 grants awarded to almost 1,200 applicants. These grants, along with others including SV2's and the Measure A bond funds allocated by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, bring The Big Lift's funding to a grand total of $28M, a significant accomplishment for a young initiative!

The SV2 community has jumped right in to offer beyond-the-dollars support.  SV2 Partners are already serving on the Steering Committee and the Finance Committee, as well as assisting with operations strategy and preschool program applications.  We will continue to incorporate the talents of our Partners as needs are identified.  We are grateful to have such a motivated and experienced group of Partners to work with this Grantee!

Finally, SV2 played a significant role in helping The Big Lift apply for and win a spot with Stanford Alumni Consulting Team, a pro bono project led by Stanford Business School alumni. They will be working with The Big Lift to create a financial model on the economic benefits of early learning, which will then be used to garner additional support for The Big Lift in Silicon Valley. 

Featured Resource: Giving 2.0

SV2's Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, will launch her first free, online course, Giving 2.0: The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on October 6.  Hosted by Coursera and sponsored by Stanford University, this course will empower individuals from all backgrounds, ages, income levels, and experiences to give more effectively.  What’s not to love?!

Over the course of six weeks, students will have the opportunity to hear from over 20 superstar guest lecturers from philanthropy, technology, and business. Students will learn how to conduct a formal nonprofit assessment, and they will also have the chance to distribute $100,000 (thanks to the generous Learning by Giving Foundation) to nonprofits that they vet and vote on with other course participants from around the world.  If the course is anywhere near as entertaining as the introductory video, it's sure to be a hit!  Check out the syllabus here and join us in learning!

Through SV2 I learn more about philanthropy, gain exposure to local and national nonprofits, and meet other people with similar values and passions. 

Emily Wu,
SV2 Partner



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