Systemic Solutions Initiative
How can we strengthen the nation’s capacity to solve entrenched social problems systemically? In recent years, we have made frontier investments to support social entrepreneurs, organizations, and initiatives tackling complex social problems with holistic approaches that go beyond (though sometimes include) scaling programs or changing public policy by trying to change the conditions that hold social problems in place. We call this our Systemic Solutions Initiative (SSI).
Systems Change: New Profit’s Systemic Solutions Initiative
SSI, which builds on New Profit’s 20-year track record of transformative social impact investments, aims to back innovative, nimble leaders who see a pathway to disrupting and reshaping systems, and fostering new capacity in them, to achieve equitable and sustainable outcomes. SSI has key three objectives in support of this goal:
- Identify and invest in promising “system entrepreneurs” who have the potential to create nationally significant systemic impact;
- Develop frameworks and tools needed to advise and scale high-potential systems change initiatives; and
- Foster a learning community of like-minded systems change actors (e.g., funders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners).
Led by Managing Partner Kim Syman – in collaboration with Managing Partners Shruti Sehra and Tulaine Montgomery, and Partner Yordanos Eyoel – SSI is rooted in strategies to address transformative levels of social change described in the “Six Conditions for Systems Change” framework developed by New Profit Executive-in-Residence John Kania.
In 2019, SSI made two initial investments in GirlTrek and The Health Initiative. Each organization receives $1.2M total over three years, as well as intensive strategic support from New Profit’s team of partners. New Profit has identified a robust pipeline of organizations for additional investment, focused on health equity/wellbeing, education, criminal justice reform, and beyond, that are ready for investment, pending resources.
GirlTrek is a growing national movement, led by social entrepreneurs T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, that is addressing black women’s health. Drawing inspiration from Black history to contextualize health as a broader civil rights issue, the organization facilitates regular one-hour group walks that enable Black women to take control of their health and engage in community building activities. More than 440K women are part of the GirlTrek community.
The Health Initiative is a new initiative to transform health care at the state level, started by social entrepreneurs Rebecca Onie and Rocco Perla, who formerly led New Profit’s longtime grantee-partner Health Leads. Onie and Perla launched The Health Initiative to spur a new national dialogue about – and new investments in – the things people need to be healthy, such as access to healthy food, safe homes, and decent-paying jobs.
The SSI team facilitates a growing learning community of over 50 systems change leaders – including entrepreneurs, funders, and practitioners – who engage in collaborative discussions to build the field’s understanding of the work of systems change and the capabilities required. The learning community regularly meets for in-person working sessions to discuss problems of practice and are active thought partners to the Systemic Solutions Team. To learn more about the Systemic Solution’s Learning Community please contact Deonta Wortham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Systemic Solutions Team is advancing the field's understanding of key capabilities needed to advance systems change efforts. Currently, the team is exploring three key areas:
The capacity to create spaces that enable difficult conversations and relationship-building; reflection and increased self-awareness about our own contributions to a system’s functioning; learning and co-creation of a shared vision; and shifts in individual and collaborative action.
The ongoing assessment of change in system conditions that accelerate or impede progress – and engaging others in the system with this data.
Framing and/or re-framing an issue, through information, stories, and insights in ways that shift mindsets to open up new possibilities for action.