Our History

CASE prepares leaders and organizations to use business skills to address our greatest challenges from wherever they sit – in nonprofit and for-profit social ventures, investment firms, corporations, and government agencies.

CASE is part of a growing impact tent

CASE was founded in 2001 to study and share the best practices of the growing cadre of social entrepreneurs testing new solutions to social and environmental problems. Social entrepreneurs are innovative, results-oriented, and draw upon the best thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds to develop strategies that maximize their enterprise’s social impact. These entrepreneurial leaders operate in all kinds of organizations – large and small, local and global, nonprofit and for-profit.  We believe social entrepreneurship is the best R&D lab for social change ever invented and we are continuously delighted to be learning from and providing tools for social enterprises doing important and challenging work, whether it be in community development, climate change, education, agriculture, health, or any other domain.  

In 2011, CASE recognized that a critical barrier to scaled solutions was insufficient capital markets for impact.  We founded the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing (CASE i3) to establish a rich set of resources for entrepreneurs, investors, funders, and more to explore and support the field of Impact Investing, the practice of investing for social and environmental impact as well as financial return. Investors of all kinds – foundations, venture capital funds, pension funds, corporations, CDFIs, and large asset owners – are investing for impact and we are happy to work with them to develop more robust methodologies to achieve both financial and social return on their capital. 

CASE has also been engaged in driving the corporate sector to be a force for good because we know that time is of the essence and we need all organizations involved.  Members of the CASE team have supported the B Corporation movement from the start, helping set the standards used to certify the thousands of B Corporations now operating around the world. We have also engaged with the multinational corporations working to meet emerging standards for ESG reporting and impact management being set around the world.

As we see more organizations join the tent, CASE is inspired and thankful to have the opportunity to prepare these organizations and their leaders and managers to drive positive impact and achieve lasting social change.

Decades of experience in social impact

View a snapshot of some of our key work over our 20+ year history:

The Legacy of Greg Dees

Greg Dees

J. Gregory Dees was the co-founder, with Beth Anderson, of CASE and considered by many to be the “father of social entrepreneurship education.”  He was instrumental in founding and developing social entrepreneurship as an academic field, through his work at Duke University, Stanford University, Harvard University, and beyond. When he began his academic career, “social entrepreneurship” was a new and novel term.  Now, decades later, Greg’s seminal publication, “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship” is arguably one of the most widely distributed pieces in the field. 

Greg was the guiding light for CASE’s mission, and his kind soul, generous heart, brilliant mind, and endless generosity were instrumental in inspiring many of the leaders in the social impact space today.  His passing on December 20, 2013 at the age of 63 was a tragic loss for CASE, Duke University, and the field of social impact.  In his honor, we do our best to make social impact at Duke worthy of his legacy.

Visit the Greg Dees Tribute page to learn more about Greg’s work and impact on others.