A Year of Impact and Progress  

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.

~ Thomas Edison

A university-wide Ebola Innovation Challenge that inspired 160+ students to think about how they can use their skills to solve real world challenges. Twenty-five global health social entrepreneurs who are touching tens of millions of people – saving and improving lives through maternity care, insurance, mobile clinics and more. Inspiring speakers including the US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and City Year founder Michael Brown. Tracking $1.5 billion dollars in impact investing commitments on behalf of the White House.  Publishing books and articles.  Helping practitioners be more effective in their work in the field. Inspiring the next generation of leaders to use the power of business and management skills to change the world. What a year!

I am consistently astounded by – and truly honored to be a part of – CASE’s work.  Thank you to our incredible team, our partners and our supporters who help us drive towards a world in which purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive; where nonprofits, businesses and government partner to make significant progress on solutions to social problems.   Read on below for more details of our year of impact and progress.

Accelerating Impact in Global Health

Through our Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), CASE, IPIHD, DGHI, Investors’ Circle and USAID are helping to support and scale social entrepreneurs working in global health.  This past year, we brought on our 3rd cohort of innovators, bringing SEAD to 25 entrepreneurs working in microinsurance, mobile technologies, clinics, health education, and more.

Ashoka recognized us for our efforts, awarding us the 2015 Ashoka U Cordes Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship award (more here).  We hosted our annual SEAD Summit, bringing together the SEAD innovators for several days of discussion and mentoring around common challenges in scaling impact and capital readiness. SEAD opened a new office in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with the USAID East Africa regional office. This office will work to support global health innovation in East Africa, particularly innovations that will improve the lives and health of women and girls.

We held the annual SEAD Symposium, bringing together students and professionals to learn from international development and global health experts including USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab Executive Director Ann Mei Chang (more here). Students participated in a case competition with Afya Research,an African nonprofit operating kiosks in rural villages, making it easier for community members to access services such as well-baby and ante-natal visits (more here).  We published thought leadership on scaling global health innovation, including the report: “Opportunities and Challenges for Global Health Impact Investors.”

Leading the field of impact investing

Our work through the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing (CASE i3) continues to build momentum.  CASE i3 was selected by the White House to track and report on $1.5 Billion in impact investing commitments. Our student fellowship included five successful CASE i3CP projects (with 100% satisfaction from our clients!), eight CASE i3 second-year Fellows and 27 first and second-year associates.  We continued our course on impact investing, hosted speakers including Maya Chorengel, Managing Director of Elevar Equity, and Mike Dorsey, Managing Partner at Bay Area Growth Fund, and hosted sessions at the Skoll World Forum and a Fuqua Faculty Conversations with Professor Cathy Clark.

CASE i3 Director Cathy Clark was selected as one of America’s “Top 20 Women in Philanthropy, Social Innovation, and Civic Engagement” (along with Oprah and Gates Foundation President Sue Desmond Hellmann).  Clark, Jed Emerson and Ben Thornley published The Impact Investor (along with e-book and audio book) and went on a multi-city book tour to spread the lessons learned about how to make impact investing successful.

Driving Tri-Sector Leadership

We launched a new initiative on tri-sector leadership this year, underscoring our belief in the importance of cross-sector skills and the criticality of leveraging the strengths of all sectors – nonprofit, for-profit and government – to solve social problems.  Michael Brown, CEO and cofounder of City Year, emphasized the point when he told us, “I think tri-sector leadership is absolutely the cutting edge idea in social entrepreneurship. We need people that can move easily between [sectors] and say: what part of this problem can be solved at what time by what sector?”  Read more in my Huffington Post article here.

Our six CASE Fellows discussed tri-sector leadership throughout the year and helped with many of our events, including at SOCAP, SBSI, and a pop-up workshop with Matt Thomas, Founder of Madison Prospect.  We are continuing to develop tools and lessons learned on tri-sector leadership which we will share throughout the coming year.

Developing leaders of consequence at Fuqua

CASE staff with US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez at the end of the 10th annual SBSI conference.
CASE staff with US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez at the end of the 10th annual SBSI conference.

The heart of our work continues to be training our MBA students to become leaders equipped with the skills to transform their organizations, communities and the world.  Together with our student club (the Net Impact Club), we hosted the 10th annual Sustainable Business & Social Impact (SBSI) conference with over 500 registrants and keynotes from John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation, and the US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.  Read more about the conference here.

We also hosted workshops on a wide range of topics, including design thinking and nonprofit accounting. We expanded our annual Day in Durham to 6 tracks and 200+ first-year students.  We hosted the first ever Social Impact & Sustainability Career Intensive with over 100 Fuqua students registered.  We had 48 students work with 24 local nonprofits through Fuqua on Board, bringing the total number of students trained to be effective board members to nearly 600 over the history of the program. We sent students all over the world – from India to Kenya to South Africa – to work on projects with social ventures through the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum.

We funded scholarships, summer internships and alumni loan assistance programs so that our students and alumni can tackle issues such as global health, education, and poverty. Read some of their internship stories here or about our alumni and their work – including impact investing with Calvert Foundation and Cambridge Associates, founding social ventures, reforming education through KIPP and Education Cities, and so much more – here.

Supporting impact leaders beyond Fuqua

Through SEAD, CASE i3, Fuqua on Board, our student consulting practicums and our thought leadership, we continue to partner with and support social entrepreneurs all over the world. In addition, CASE Senior Fellow Dan Heath hosted the 2015 Change Academy. In the first months of the year, we have worked with YES Prep (a Texas charter school network) and SightLife (a Seattle-based corneal eye tissue recovery and transplant organization) to “move a metric that matters.” Learn more about the experience with YES Prep here.

Finally, we launched our new CASE Chats series, short video interviews with leading social innovators and impact investors, to share lessons learned from the field.  CASE Chats to date have included Seth Goldman (TeaEO of Honest Tea), Chuck Slaughter (CEO of Living Goods), and Michael Brown (CEO of City Year).

We could not do all of this alone.  This year has also seen us build our board, develop meaningful partnerships externally, grow our team and continue to partner with colleagues at Fuqua and Duke.   Amazing what we are able to accomplish together!

We are looking forward to more impact to come so stay tuned on the blog and on our new website, www.CASEatDuke.org, for updates and plans for the coming year.