October 13, 2017
Philanthropists joined together to create Blue Meridian Partners, which aims to invest $1 billion or more in other nonprofit organizations working on issues affecting poor children.
More than just pooling intellectual and financial resources to achieve change, groups like Blue Meridian are acting as “field catalysts,” according to a new academic paper in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Such organizations, the paper’s author argues, can help solve intractable, societal problems that require resources beyond what even billionaires can marshal.
Taz Hussein, partner at the consultant Bridgespan Group and author of the report “Field Catalysts: The Unseen Agents That Galvanize Social Change,” said he and his colleagues had identified 15 social change efforts — like reducing malaria deaths, bringing about same-sex marriage, reducing obesity — and asked what big change would look like. They found that each effort had a core organization providing leadership and support to other groups tackling the same issue.
“These organizations would never say they were the organizations driving these changes,” Mr. Hussein said. “In terms of size relative to the total investment, these organizations are relatively small, and they’re nimble. They try to take that bird’s-eye view and problem solve. They helped to align funders.”
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“We start with the belief that it’s actually possible to solve significant social problems confronting the children and youth living in poverty today,” said Nancy Roob, chief executive of Blue Meridian and the Enda McConnell Clark Foundation, where Blue Meridian is being incubated. “What brings people together and what makes it work are the opportunities to invest in leaders and strategies. It’s the opportunity to together solve problems that none of us would be able to do on our own.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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