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Mission and Overview

Launched in early 2002, RISE is a project at Columbia Business School whose mission is to study and disseminate knowledge about the markets, metrics and management of for-profit and nonprofit social enterprise and social venturing.

RISE is sponsored within Columbia Business School by the Social Enterprise Program and the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship.

RISE deepens learning opportunities for students and practitioners by focusing on key issues in current practice of social enterprise, social investing and social venturing. RISE concentrates on people working where the lines of previously distinct nonprofit and for-profit sectors start to blur, in what Jed Emerson of the Hewlett Foundation and J. Greg Dees of Duke University have both called a new "hybrid" space for social entrepreneurship.

RISE studies the growing practice of building profit and nonprofit ventures that aim to achieve social and financial impact through their products, services and other business practices, and the entities that fund them. RISE explores issues of nonprofit organizations building capacity and using business practices to sustain their growth, as well as issues for for-profit companies trying to achieve social impacts as well as financial returns. RISE works collaboratively with investment funds around the country as well as foundations, other universities and intermediary groups to define, explore and report on key issues of interest to this developing field.

RISE concentrates on three strategic areas:

1) Markets: Understanding the Capital Markets for Social Entrepreneurs

The RISE 2003 Social Investor Survey, made possible by Columbia Business School, is supported by two private foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, and five leading double bottom line venture funds: Calvert Social Funds, Commons Capital, LP, Expansion Capital Partners, LLC, Sustainable Jobs Fund, LLC, and Underdog Ventures. 

The RISE 2003 Social Investor Survey was the first national survey of investment vehicles that make early-stage equity investments in scalable for-profit ventures whose products, services or business structures can be considered to have positive social or environmental impacts.  Survey results are available for free in two forms.  The RISE Double Bottom Line Investor Directory, a searchable public database of these funds, is accessible on the RISE website. In addition, reports and articles with fuller information on double bottom line capital market taken from the survey are available on our Reports page.

2) Metrics: Improving Tools for Social Impact Assessment

RISE staff are working in collaboration with several social investment funds and foundations to review, analyze and apply various methods that can be used by early-stage social enterprises to help assess social impact and measure social return on investment (SROI). Reports are available on the Reports page.

3) Management: Understanding Strategic Choices and Dilemmas

The RISE / IC / SVN 2004 Social Venture Survey Project is a collaboration among RISE, Investors’ Circle and the Social Venture Network to conduct a new survey of for profit social ventures, with funding from the Marion Institute, the Omidyar Network and the Rockefeller Foundation.  This exploratory study took the first snapshot of the landscape of for profit social venture CEOs and entrepreneurs in the United States, focusing on emerging companies that started within the past thirty years.  It has concentrated on defining size, scale and scope of social ventures, how entrepreneurs work to create and evaluate social and environmental value, what their financial success and needs are, and what lessons they have for new social entrepreneurs. More information available here.


RISE has also underwritten the development of several case studies, which have been used in Columbia Business School's elective course on Social Entrepreneurship, and can be made available for use by other social entrepreneurship faculty on request. Case targets include nonprofit and for-profit social ventures and social investment funds. Case writers work directly with key staff of the ventures and funds to frame key strategic issues from managers' perspectives.  Cases available include Aspire Public Schools and The Doe Fund.

For more information, please contact:
Catherine Clark, RISE Director, cathy@cathyhc.com.
Reports, cases, presentations and articles will be posted as they become available on our RISE Reports page.