VIDEO: Impact summit harnessed California’s innovation economy to tackle big challenges

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Hundreds gathered in San Francisco recently for the 2015 “Growing the Impact Economy Summit” where problem solvers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors came together to tackle some of California’s intractable social and environmental problems. The wrapup video above captures some of the voices of leaders in the world of “fourth sector” thinking.

The location was apt, given the region’s reputation as a hub of innovation and given California is a leader in the impact economy. But this “fourth sector” or for-benefit sector of the economy can benefit anywhere there are leaders looking to unite business know-how and impact investment with those looking to take on community challenges, like poverty, workforce issues, infrastructure, housing and health care.

California Forward and the California Economic Summit helped convene the event, which was hosted by Presidio Institute, in partnership with The White House Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Berkeley Haas School of Business, Ashoka, and Fourth Sector Networks.

“The California Economic Summit’s Roadmap to Shared Prosperity highlights the critical need for investments in workforce development, infrastructure and sustainable communities,” said Jim Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward. “With California state revenues failing to keep pace with demand, it’s time to consider a broader spectrum of public and private investments. For-benefit organizations can contribute needed resources, leveraging private investment for public good.”

“By bringing together leadership across sectors and disciplines around a new approach to problem-solving, this gathering promises to advance breakthrough solutions,” said Laura D’Andrea Tyson, director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and former chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers. “I look forward to surfacing opportunities to accelerate the growth of the for-benefit sector across the country, as a pathway to building a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Focused on eight domains of the impact economy – Academic Medical Centers and Health Systems, Health Insurance, Applied Clean Energy, Workforce/Skills Development, Infrastructure, Place-Based Economic Development, Impact Investment, Mapping and Data – the summit called on attendees to break into eight “action labs” which brainstormed ideas for advancing fourth sector problem-solving in those arenas.

“Many of today’s social, environmental and economic challenges require solutions that transcend the traditional silos of the public, private and social sectors,” David B. Smith, managing director of the Presidio Institute, explained. “This summit brings together a select group of leading experts and practitioners to explore and advance fourth sector and cross sector solutions across several high-impact areas.”

An example of productive brainstorming came out of the Infrastructure action lab–with experts from across the fourth sector making 12 commitments to explore new approaches to investing in everything from goods movement and broadband to water facilities. These ideas are outlined by CA Fwd’s Justin Ewers in the recent post “12 new ways to close infrastructure funding gaps highlighted by CA Fwd and Economic Summit partners.”

As more commitments and examples of collaboration take shape, the California Economic Summit will feature them here on our blog and on the Summit social media channels. Stay tuned!


John Guenther

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