Capital Impact Partners: Using Social Innovation for Success

The Washington Post recently released its list of the area’s top employers, and congratulations to Crystal City’s Capital Impact Partners (CIP), which was one of several Arlington companies honored. As we at AED are looking at workplaces of the future, I wanted to better understand what really fosters this kind of “top employer” workplace. Speaking with Terry Simonette, CIP’s CEO, I learned that the company’s mission is to support people and communities in order to reach their highest potential in life. To better understand this mission, you must first understand the idea of social innovation. It’s been around since the dawn of our nation; in fact, founding father Benjamin Franklin spent part of his life establishing Americas first fire departments, police departments, libraries, universities, and insurance associations, many of which were the world’s first. He invented odometers, glasses, stoves, and other devices. He allowed civic minded organizations to thrive and exemplified the idea that people do not need to choose between self-reliance and civic involvement. By turning big ideas in to social norms, it could be argued that he was indeed the original social innovator.

Capital Impact Partners is solving social innovation by using business approaches and techniques. Terry says that ‘Innovation is a good idea when there is business value and applicability... the way to get resources is to harness capital.” CIP has several national initiatives it supports, one of which is the “Living Cities Integration Initiative,” an effort to revitalize and re-densify neglected and under-invested areas. The company also brings together public, private, and philanthropic capital to rethink ways to bring food to low-income communities and develop new approaches to financing healthy food and retail grocery markets across the country, allowing for easier accessibility to healthier food in a time where many fresh food retailers are leaving these communities. In doing this, CIP aims to create keystones and catalysts for revitalization, creating an incentive for people to work, shop and grow their CIP Group Photobusiness, or what some would call socially innovate. Some of the other areas that CIP focuses on is health care, education, and cooperative development.

Making a measurable impact and having the funds to do it is half of the battle and something that CIP has certainly done; the company has distributed almost 2 billion dollars, created more than 30,000 jobs, and touched 3 million lives over the last 30 plus years. But aside from what CIP is doing to support communities across the country, I wanted to understand what makes this organization a great place to work and why it was recognized as one of the region’s top employers? I asked Terry that very question. He responded that he believes that CIP employees believe that the work they are doing can’t be done anywhere else. Furthermore, he provided three reasons why CIP is a great place to work:

  1. Compelling Mission – employees are engaged and believe they are making an impact
  2. Balanced work and family life
  3. Innovation – employees are willing and able to take risks in order to enact positive change

In addition to maintaining a workforce that fosters a good culture, over the next 10 years, Terry plans to focus on impact investing, continuing to tackle some of the most unrelenting challenges and providing real-world solutions for those challenges – all the while being a social innovator.

We in Arlington are thrilled to be a partner with CIP as the company moves forward with this inspiring goal.


Topic: BIG Update
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