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FH Blog

Unlocking the Next Trillion for Impact


JUNE 20, 2024


On June 20th, 2024 we were thrilled to co-host the 'Unlocking the Next Trillion' Summit, with Gratitude Railroad.  

The Summit took a “Systems to Solutions” approach and included stimulating workshops, speakers, and conversations to unlock the next trillion in impact investing which will shape tomorrow. The Summit brought together approximately 100 change makers across sectors who are committed to leveraging their social, intellectual and financial capital to drive change. Key stakeholders included investors, entrepreneurs, fund managers, NGOs, academics, and ecosystem leaders.


The Summit was introduced by Mimi Sternlicht, Founder of Foundation House, and Howard Fischer, Co-Founder of Gratitude Railroad. Richard Zimmerman, Executive Director of Foundation House, and Rebekah Saul Butler, Co-CEO of Gratitude Railroad, then spoke about the need and opportunity to rapidly drive trillions of dollars to impact investing to help bring about positive environmental and social change.

John Fullerton , founder of the Capital Institute, then led a thought-provoking discussion of Systems thinking and Regenerative Economics and Finance. John explained that the New Millennium has altered life as we know it, creating a ‘Polycrisis’, which is a series of interconnected geopolitical, social, economic, financial, health and ecological crisis. He differentiated between reductionist and systems approaches to design and problem solving and explained the approach to complexity is to understand living systems, to help us manage the poly crisis. He then described Regenerative Capitalism, which includes a holistic, living systems theory of economics.

Using these ideas, the conference then broke into workgroups to discuss how a Systems approach can help unlock the next trillion for impact. Topics included:

Topic 1: Thinking in Systems that Support Life - John Fullerton 

Topic 2: Role of Intermediaries - Jeff Gitterman 

Topic 3: Post-investment Support for Fund managers and Entrepreneurs - Regina Green 

Topic 4: Bridging Private Assets with Government - Max Frankel 

Topic 5: Role of Philanthropic or Blended Capital - Paige MacLean, Jaideep Khanna 

Topic 6: Driving Capital to Next Gen and Underrepresented Fund Managers - Jenna Bussman-Wise, Roraj Pradhananga 

Topic 7: Scaling Solutions Beyond the Lab - Chante Harris, Tim Woodcock 

The workgroups then reconvened to share their discussion and findings, moderated by Jessie Tang, Principal and Head of Strategic Initiatives at Gratitude Railroad. These system share-outs included ideas such as:

  1. Creating network focused hubs of product innovation (e.g., in the $200B Donor Advised Fund space)

  2. Better ways to match the right experience of entrepreneurs with fund managers

  3. Identifying clogs in the system of governmental policies (e.g., the Inflation Reduction Act)

  4. Ways to better educate Boards to take more risk and utilize methods such as Program Related Investments

  5. How to have investors stay onboard through investment fund raising cycles.

  6. Improved education on different funding sources such as blended finance

The Forum then hearded from impact company founders. These included:

Session II of the Summit shifted from Systems discussions to focusing on Solutions, who discussed how we can catalyze solutions to bring about positive systemic change. Topics and group leaders included:

  1. Reduce Greenhouse Gasses - Sarah Sclarsic, Voyager VC

  2. Protect Ecological Integrity - Alex Armstrong, Mighty Earth, Craig Cogut, Global Fund for Coral Reef

  3. Educate for the Future: Reskilling / Upskilling - Ashley Bittner, Kalos Ventures

  4. Educate for the Future: K-12 - Mora Segal, A Street

  5. Advance Health Equity - Lenore Beirne Champagne, Bright Ventures, Elana Berkowitz, Springbank VC

  6. Bridge the Wealth Gap - Adrianna Samaniego, Cherryrock Capital, Liz Luckett - The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund

  7. Heal Food Systems - Julia Paino, Desert Bloom, Jack Algiere, Blue Hill at Stone Barns

  8. Champion Climate Justice - 1 - Rebekah Saul Butler, Gratitude Railroad

  9. Champion Climate Justice - 2 - Roman Torres, The Schmidt Family Foundation


Global impact investments have crossed the $1 trillion mark, but in order for us to achieve the UN Sustainability Goals, trillions more are needed. Through the exchanging of ideas and forging connections, the Summit helped expose the next trillion-dollar opportunities!  


About Foundation House:

Foundation House is a Center for Impact and philanthropy on an iconic and beautiful estate in back-county Greenwich, CT, with a commitment to positive and systemic change in the areas of Environment, Community and Mental Health. Foundation House holds gatherings are a unique opportunity to gain valuable insights from leading experts, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and network with other like-minded people.

About Gratitude Railroad:

Gratitude Railroad is a community-driven impact investment firm championing innovative businesses that generate compelling financial returns and enduring impact. Over the past decade, they have seeded and built a large portfolio of companies and funds, catalyzing hundreds of millions of dollars into impact-focused businesses. Learn about the ways to join Gratitude Railroad and invest in early-stage companies and emerging funds dedicated to planetary health, social well-being, and intersectional innovation.

The information provided at this conference is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or heard. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact your local emergency services or a mental health hotline. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk. The content is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship.

The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice on investment, tax, philanthropic, legal, health, or any other matter. It is not intended to be relied upon for making any decisions, financial or otherwise. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals who are familiar with your specific situation for individualized guidance.


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