Closing Highlights from SOCAP22
On the first day, we centered on embodiment and action; on the second day, we talked about what and who we see and don’t see. On the third day, we asked you to center on accountability, power, and capital. As we close the conference, we’re inviting you to embrace the messy complexity of holding all the themes in your consciousness at the same time, regardless of your mission or sector.
As we met for the final plenary of SOCAP22, Charney Robinson-Williams of ImpactPHL and Monique Aiken of Make Justice Normal reminded us that the work is complex, a journey, and in progress. To all the presenters, attendees, entrepreneurs, investors, and culturemakers who convened this week, we at SOCAP extend our gratitude — for being present and for committing to taking action. As content guide Darryl Ratcliff of Gossypian Investments challenged, “After this conference, how can we go back differently? … How do you take the moment and make it into a movement?”
Anne Price, President of Insight Center for Community Economic Development and co-author of “Centering Blackness: The Path to Economic Liberation for All” provided a first step: “Take a risk, take a chance, and be uncomfortable. We’re not going to see these changes without some level of discomfort. This work requires a sustained focus and effort and energy and knowing that you’re going to take two steps forward and one step back and it’s OK — that’s how liberation happens. That’s how movements move. There’s no straight course.”
And, as Anne and Darryl concluded, reach out to new networks, those you aren’t currently working with, and remember, “People are more than their struggle, they’re more than tragedy. The energy right now is tapping into joy.”
As we look back at this week, we look forward to taking chances, sitting with discomfort, embracing messy complexities, and building from joy with all of you.
Notable Highlights from Day Four
This week’s social entrepreneurs. The SOCAP Entrepreneur Cohort took the stage for their pitch sessions on day four. You can learn more about each entrepreneur below and reach out to program coordinator Sarah Sterling ([email protected]) directly to be put in touch. Review this year’s entrepreneurs, organized by sector below:
- Economic Development
- Sustainable Agriculture & Climate Action
- Health & Wellness
- Ethical Fashion
- Financial Inclusion & Services
Earlier this week, we also heard pitches from the Cartier Women’s Initiative Fellows and Water and Climate-Smart Agriculture Entrepreneurs from the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to our entrepreneur program facilitators.
Learning and trusting in lived experience. Many of this week’s sessions focused on asking, listening, and trusting in the lived experience of those closest to the issues at hand for the best, sustainable solutions. That includes the work of Sikowis Nobiss of Great Plains Action Society who was a co-host during the SOCAP21 virtual event and called for an Indigenous Access Fund. As a result, with thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, this year is SOCAP’s first year of the Indigenous Access Fund (learn more about this fund and other SOCAP22 initiatives, including the first SOCAP Equitable Access Speakers Fund, made possible by Halloran Philanthropies). As shared by content guide Cari Hanson, former SOCAP Vice President and co-founder of Make Justice Normal: “I have had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Sikowis over the past five years. Over this time, I and we, have learned so much from the people and the panels that she has organized about how to deploy capital to ensure a regenerative future.” In a separate session Wednesday, as Megan Kashner of Colorful Capital shared, “Participants and allies leaned into a conversation about the strengths and opportunities inherent to investing in LGBTQ+-founded companies as well as the fraught and difficult decisions that founders have to make in determining when it is safe or advisable to come out to a potential funder or partner. At a moment when LGBTQ+ identity is under fire and subject to aspersions, it was wonderful to come together and discuss the ways we navigate through and onward.” Michael Tringe of CreatorUp added, “What’s exciting to me is that the people in this room today are the step forward toward linking impact investment with opportunities to create real, sustainable change in the lives of people in our LGBTQ+ community.”
Honest about impact. “Part of that is understanding how we have been part of the problem. … Many of us don’t know that we have a huge amount of power in stopping the system of mass incarceration in this country. … There’s not an index fund, including ESG funds in America, that is not financing the prison system. They are doing harm right now and doing it disproportionately to Black, Brown and Indigenous people,” shared Christina Hollenback of Justice Capital. She continued to ask, now that attendees know this, what would they do with their assets? And other session presenters emphasized that an honest review starts with the project and investment design, built alongside impacted stakeholders to inform and direct the goals and processes. As Gina Spitz of Chicago Loyola University, Center for Urban Research and Learning said, “In these communities, it’s not a one size fits all, so it’s important to get baseline data from each invested community. … When they feel the impact, that’s when you know that it’s real.”
Reaching beyond SOCAP22. The leadership and attendees of SOCAP made waves beyond the event. First, in the “Social Investing And Its Impact On The World” segment on FinTech, Robert Munson, President of SOCAP Global and Managing Director of the Sorenson Impact Center, discussed why impact investing matters in a post-COVID world and what new trends are emerging in this field. ImpactAlpha shared how “Dealmakers seize the return of SOCAP to move capital toward impact. … Impact fund managers and startup founders, placement agents and headhunters worked the halls and terraces of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Arts Center to make connections and close deals at SOCAP, as the in-person event convened after a two-year hiatus. ‘It’s the most deal activity I’ve seen in all my years at SOCAP,’ Big Path Capital’s Shawn Lesser told ImpactAlpha.”
Move from this event to lasting action on the +Media Impact Hub. You’ll find inspiring opportunities to dive more deeply into solutions related to this year’s themes and Thursday’s selected sessions’ activations. Unpack the distinction between ESG and impact to make more informed choices and help recruit capital into investments that will make a difference. And let us know what inspired you this week and see what steps other individuals and organizations are taking to create a better world! This and more in the +Media Impact Hub.
Powerful quotes we took away from the fourth day of SOCAP22:
- “When we value a company, are these creating positive benefits for their stakeholders? … We think a lot about sustainable businesses rather than ESG. ESG is the criteria and data used to manage risk.”— Yusuf George, Engine No. 1 | Greenwashers Beware: Using ESG for Good, Not Evil
- “If we want a regenerative future, we have to recognize, restore, and repair resources from the places where they were extracted. … If we want to get to a regenerative future, we have to shift assets.” Taj James, Full Spectrum Capital Partners | Moving from Strategy to Practice: Building Community Wealth Now
- “I often say about the problems we’re trying to solve for in our communities, we’re using traditional real estate tools to solve nontraditional problems. … The things we’re working on keep people eating, keep a roof over their head, and I think that’s something worth investing in.” Ghian Foreman, Washington Park Development Group | Centering Community in Equitable Economic Investment
- “The invitation that I always give to folks is to do your own work, your internal work.” Eldra Jackson III, Inside Circle | Moving from Strategy to Practice: Building Community Wealth Now
Meet Some of Our Partners
As we gather again in person, we’re especially grateful for the mission-driven partners who have helped to make SOCAP22 a reality — and for you and others in the SOCAP community bringing energy and ideas to fuel conversations and drive positive action. Meet some of our partners and their work below:
Halloran Philanthropies embodies the true ideals of a philanthropist by promoting and supporting the well-being of individuals above all. That is why we are delighted to partner with Halloran Philanthropies for SOCAP22. We are especially grateful to Halloran Philanthropies for their support of SOCAP over the years, and for being the first supporter of SOCAP’s Equitable Speakers Fund, believing in our vision from the very beginning, and never doubting us along the way.
The Ford Foundation is a social justice pioneer, making investments in leaders who are innovative with high-risk ideas. We’re honored to have the Ford Foundation at SOCAP22 and proud to work with the foundation to bring their ideas on Workers as Stakeholders to SOCAP22. Ford is changing the ways we think about workers, ownership and data. Like the Ford Foundation, we believe in advancing big ideas that spur real social change.