About Our Work

Our multi-disciplinary team engages in the following activities:

Independent analysis on a broad range of causes (e.g., U.S. education, global public health priorities like malaria or child survival rates, effective disaster response), as well as challenges faced by all those seeking social impact (e.g., How to define social impact goals, measure and manage progress, estimate the social return on investments).

Educational programs, including undergraduate and graduate coursework, internships, workshops for social impact leaders, webinars, conference presentations, private donor forums, and our executive education programs for funders, wealth managers, and practitioners.

Custom engagements to support specific efforts to achieve greater social impact. Recent examples:

  • Working closely with a family’s wealth advisor, we identified the housing security issues that remained in their community after a natural disaster and how both philanthropy and impact investing capital could help.
  • Working with a foundation’s longstanding  consultant, we designed that family’s first retreat to engage multiple generations of family stakeholders in a common area of interest: education, with an ultimate focus on early childhood
  • Conducted a sector scan and analyses for an individual high net worth donor’s exploration of how cleaner cookstoves might lead to positive social impacts in both health and environmental impacts.

Members of the press may contact Jacqui Posey, University Communications, jposey@upenn.edu, 215-898-6460.

What Are We Working on Now

The following is a select list of current projects. For more on how we select projects, please see our FAQ

  • We’ve partnered with the William Penn Foundation to explore two-generation approaches to support early childhood development and education in the Philadelphia region and beyond. As part of our Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors, CHIP published a funder brief three years ago explaining the reasoning for such an approach. Our understanding of the evidence base for two-generation programming has grown since then, as has donor interest in this topic. In 2017 CHIP will publish updated guidance that explores the research base and a range of options for interested funders to incorporate this approach into ongoing philanthropic efforts.
  • In the world’s most impoverished communities, people still struggle for access to the simplest form of healthcare, where each day some 17,000 children age 5 or younger die—largely from treatable causes such as pneumonia or diarrhea. One way to prevent such deaths is through Community-Based Health Delivery (CBHD) models that are cost-effective at providing preventative care and treatment to poor communities.  In 2017 CHIP will share the latest evidence on this powerful approach, along with nonprofits that are implementing it around the world.
  • In 2008, CHIP published its first-ever and largest guidance, Pathways to Student Success. In 2017, we update our groundbreaking report that showed philanthropists what at-risk students need for educational success, from infancy to postsecondary training. Our guidance identified activities that lead to transformation for at-risk students and how to better target meaningful change. At the time, this was an ambitious project: to identify what every child needs at various stages of his/her life to succeed educationally. In the nine years since Pathways was first published, the field has produced more evidence. Look for even more targeted ways to help at-risk children of all ages achieve economic growth and stability through education.
  • How aligned are “socially responsible” funds with the missions, values, and goals of their investors? What screening tools are these funds using? What should they be using? CHIP has embarked on a multi-year study to help investors better align their investments with their social impact goals. Thanks to generous seed funding from Tara Health Foundation (and in collaboration with Wharton Social Impact Initiative), the first phase of the project focuses on the women and girls sector. It identifies the screening tools and indicators that investors, philanthropists, and fund managers could use to improve the lives of women and girls through investments in public equity.

What We Would Like to Work on Next

Below are some of the areas where we have not yet launched a major project, but where we see potential for better information and guidance to achieve greater impact. For information on how we choose the projects we work on, please see our FAQ.

For information on supporting the Center’s research and analysis, please see Support Our Work.

  • Practical guidance on how funders can use alternative financing vehicles such as PRIs, alongside grants, to achieve philanthropic goals.
  • What is the social impact of arts, culture, and heritage programs and organizations? How can stakeholders measure and manage progress?
  • US Education: High impact opportunities to support student success in middle school and post-secondary education
  • Global Public Health: High impact opportunities to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child in the developing world
  • Multi-faceted effort on women, girls, and social impact
  • Cornerstone, cross-cutting guidance on High Impact Philanthropy: 10 years of evidence, analysis and insights on how to get to impact faster and with more confidence