Uncharted Insider - June 2018
Welcome to the June edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- Senior Citizen Poverty: We just wrapped up a partnership with the AARP Foundation focused on identifying ventures working to improve the lives of low-income elderly Americans. With our help, the AARP Foundation is adopting two ventures to work closely with their internal entrepreneurs-in-residence to develop new models designed to improve the lives of the low-income elderly.
- New Corporate Partnership: We locked up another top-secret partnership with a major corporate brand to launch a signature CSR initiative with them. We’re so excited....launching soon.
- New Team Member: We are excited to welcome Zach Strom to our team to lead up our Venture Funding department. Our historical data demonstrates that for every dollar that funds Uncharted, we’re able to turn that into $21 of additional capital for our portfolio.
Ideas on our mind:
- Take our own medicine: Emily Scott, our Program Director, has said we need to put ourselves through our own accelerator. We have witnessed how transformative our accelerators can be for others, yet we haven’t put ourselves through our own model. What if we built a custom-made accelerator for ourselves, given our specific needs and priorities? What if we surrounded each employee with mentors, advisors, and coaches that we surround each entrepreneur with? It’s made me curious why more organizations don’t take their core competency - their secret sauce - and apply it on themselves. It’s hard and time-consuming work, but it's also a new level of organizational integrity: believing so strongly in what is done externally that it's also practiced internally. I’m curious to learn about organizations that have applied the DNA of their external success internally.
- R+D Laboratories for Cities. Last year we partnered with the City of Denver (#hometown) to run an experimental program focused on identifying and scaling new models that increased the access of healthy foods into low-income neighborhoods. Our work on this initiative with the City continues this year, and we’re engaging with the City on a few other initiatives as well. It’s made me curious about the existence of R+D Laboratories connected to municipal governments with the mandate of experimenting with solutions to the city’s biggest social, environmental, and economic issues. Google/Alphabet launched Sidewalk Labs in 2015 with this mission, but I'm wondering about others.
Failures to communicate. We’re making updates to our website because we’ve realized that parts of it are confusing, repetitive, and vague — and even repetitive. It’s been nearly a year since the rebrand, and everything is clearer now, so we’re asking ourselves whom are we targeting with our website and how can we be concrete in our language and succinct in our length. But wow…so many organizations with a tangle of funders, partners, beneficiaries, payers, and supporters have websites that are truly impressive in their confusing and buzz-wordy writing. Maybe it’s the curse of knowledge, maybe it’s that we aren’t doing the hard work of distilling things down to their very essence, or maybe it’s just that websites aren’t targeted at someone and we’re writing simply to write, but I think many of us have work to do here. If you know of any websites that truly stand out in their elegant simplicity, send them this way.
What I’m reading:
- How the right dirt can reabsorb 3x more carbon: experiments in carbon farming, composting, and regenerative agriculture to address global warming. Here.
- Community colleges are boosting graduation rates by fighting poverty themselves. The story of one community college that is doing everything from food pantries, emergency loan funds, and legal aid clinics to systematically remove every barrier to graduation.
- The inside story of Vice, a media company bereft of both strategy and ethics. The story of faking it.
- How artificial intelligence is helping the Crisis Text Line to predict the people most at risk of suicide (the word "Advil" is more predictive of risk than the word "cut"). Here.
- This year-long series on the fight for gender equity is worth your time. Part 1 featured interviews from visionary women about their own struggles for equity. Part 2 focuses on how to raise girls to understand and harness their power.
I’m leaving tomorrow to go on a five-day solo backcountry camping trip near Telluride, Colorado. Few things make me as happy and grounded as sleeping in a tent, breathing in the mountains' silence, and letting myself be guided by topo map and whim alike.
United in the common work,