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 Jacquie 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

The XX Factor, Phase 2

In 2017, CHIP published The XX Factor, A Comprehensive Framework for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls, thanks to generous seed funding from Tara Health Foundation and in collaboration with Wharton Social Impact Initiative. In this report, we identify the five dimensions of a woman’s life that are critical to her flourishing, the consensus outcome measures that mark progress in women’s lives, and the evidence-based strategies that work to improve those measures. In 2018, we will expand on this framework to illustrate how both philanthropists and impact investors can apply our findings to more effectively and efficiently reach a shared goal of ensuring women thrive.

How Can Philanthropy Strengthen Democracy?

Multiple surveys over the past decade have revealed a trend of declining confidence in political institutions among US voters. In 2016, the US slipped from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy,” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, a downgrade that has been years in the making. In 2018, in partnership with the Democracy Fund, CHIP will take a multidisciplinary approach to developing an organizing framework for donors to make impactful funding decisions in this area.

Two-Generation Approaches

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. Three years ago, CHIP published a funder brief explaining the reasoning for such an approach, but since then, our understanding of the evidence base for two-generation programming has grown, as has donor interest in this topic. In 2018, we 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.

Community-Based Health Delivery

Over the past 20 years, tremendous progress has been made in global health. Diseases such as malaria, diarrheal illness, pneumonia, and measles have decreased worldwide, as have rates of maternal and child mortality. However, there are still groups of people being left behind. These communities face the harshest barriers to accessing health services, such as physical distance, cultural discrimination, and extreme poverty. From rural villages in Malawi to crowded urban slums in Bangladesh, community-based health organizations are cost-effective at providing preventative care and treatment to these underserved communities. In 2018 CHIP will share the latest evidence on this powerful approach, along with nonprofits that are implementing it around the world.

Pathways to Student Success

Nearly a decade ago, CHIP published its first piece of donor guidance, Pathways to Student Success. In the report, we detailed the education pathway that children must navigate to achieve success in school and showed philanthropists ways they could address student achievement gaps by targeting a child’s needs inside and outside of the classroom. Since then, advances in neuroscience have dramatically affected the field’s understanding of brain development, particularly in early childhood and adolescence. In 2018, we will update our original guidance, building on new research in areas such as early childhood and adolescent brain development, behavioral science, and program evaluation.

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.

A Framework for Behavioral Health

In Fall 2017, thanks to the generosity of the Scattergood Foundation and in partnership with our colleagues at Penn’s Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, CHIP conducted a field scan to identify existing philanthropic frameworks used to fund work in mental health and addiction. We identified several helpful resources, but none that could serve as an organizing framework for donor decision-making. To fill this gap, CHIP would like to develop a donor toolkit that would enable funders to identify high impact philanthropic opportunities to address mental health and addiction. This toolkit would both increase the effectiveness of current funders and help funders new to behavioral health recognize where they can make the biggest difference. To learn about supporting CHIP’s work in behavioral health, contact us at impact@sp2.upenn.edu.