Welcome to the March edition of the Uncharted Insider, a monthly email from me that provides an inside look into our organization and what we're thinking about.
- Food systems and collective impact: In 2017, we ran an accelerator focused on increasing access of healthy food in low-income neighborhoods. In 2018, we're continuing that work by facilitating a group of organizations to co-locate into one neighborhood in Denver, with the goal of reducing food insecurity for the 1,500+ inhabitants. We're just getting started, but it's been a chance for us to learn how to unite a group of organizations to achieve a common goal.
- Low-Income Elderly: We just launched an initiative focusing on ventures that work to benefit the low-income elderly in the U.S., an often overlooked demographic. There are 25 million Americans above 60 years old who are considered "economically insecure."
- Partnership Announcement: Last month, I mentioned that we'd be announcing a corporate partnership focused on mobile technology for social impact. Our timeline has been adjusted, so we'll be announcing as soon as we can.
Ideas on our mind:
- What is the next phase? In the social impact space (if there is a "space" so encompassing), it seems like the last ~20 years have been characterized by experimentation with different models and tools to create impact. It's been a renaissance of exploration. Organizations and individuals have applied entrepreneurship to solve problems (social entrepreneurship), taken approaches and vehicles of investment to create impact (impact investing), and recognized the need for a defined skillset in "collective impact" to tackle systems-level change. I'm curious if the next phase will be about the thoughtful combination of these tools and models. My hypothesis is that the true change-makers in the next 20 years will be organizations and entities that combine relevant tools and models to achieve more impact than pursuing just one model in isolation. But I'm curious what others think: What do you see as the next phase?
Solutions looking for problems. Many organizations we see are led by visionary leaders who want to effect change on a grand scale: tackle poverty, disrupt food systems, slow down global warming, transform healthcare. We need these people to expand our field of vision of what's possible, but many of their solutions fall into two traps: 1) their solution is disproportionally small compared to the problem they're proclaiming to solve (disrupt the education system with an app on a classroom tablet!), or 2) they have found a proportional solution to a problem, but not a reliable payer/customer (the healthy-food grocery store in a food desert that doesn't have food neighbors will actually buy). The traps share a common underpinning of being unclear about 1) what problem is actually being solved, 2) whose problem that is, and 3) who pays. Businesses inherently get this; social impact orgs often struggle. And we ourselves are not immune: Uncharted has fallen into this trap before, and the advice we're currently getting from our advisors is to spend as much time finding a market as proving out the impact of our solutions. Here's an article on this.
What I’m reading:
- Big corporations aren't so bad: on average, they provide steadier employment, better benefits, hire more women and minorities, and create more innovation per dollar than small companies. Here.
- Louisiana is losing a football field of land to the sea every hour: how climate change is going to affect migration and coastline.
- The inside story of how Facebook's pursuit of neutrality backfired. The soul of any organization needs to stand for something bigger than doing no harm.
- Fiction Pick: Homegoing is an exceptionally powerful and wrecking book chronicling the multiple generations of descendants from the west African slave trade - through slavery - and up to present-day America. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
Every year my brother and I take a sibling trip to invest in our relationship, go on adventures, make plans for the next year, and determine how to prank our parents. I'm just getting back, feeling refreshed and energized. My relationship with Ryan is one of the most important in my life, and I'm thankful for the time to deepen it.
United in the common work,