Today, Achive proudly announces the launch of the Business Center for a College- and Career-Ready America on its website, www.BusinessandEducation.org.
American business leaders understand the importance of qualified talent. Yet, too many of our students graduate high school academically unprepared to succeed in the real world, not reaching the critical college- and career-ready bar. Graduating "college-ready" means being prepared for postsecondary academic experience, and "career-ready" signifies possessing the knowledge and skills most valued - and most urgently needed - by employers. In today's increasingly knowledge-based economy, a career is not just a job. A career provides a family-sustaining wage and pathways to advancement and, more than ever, requires postsecondary training or education.
With this in mind, the GE Foundation and AT&T, along with Chevron and the Prudential and Travelers foundations, collaborated with Achieve to create the Business Center for a College- and Career-Ready America to help businesses think more strategically about how best to support college and career readiness for all students. The Business Center's unique value for business leaders is rooted in Achieve's deep understanding of implementation of college- and career-ready standards - and what will help states ensure success going forward. To strengthen the bridge between awareness and engagement, the Business Center provides a range of practical and customizable tools and examples of how business leaders can and do support standards-based education reform within and across states. Deeply aware of the importance of talented individuals to our nation's competitiveness, American business leaders strongly support the college- and career-ready agenda. They also understand the Business Center's important role in furthering that goal:
"Since 2008, AT&T has helped youth at risk of dropping out of high school prepare for college and careers in the 21st century. Achieve's new initiative helps reach that goal by preparing business representatives to learn from best practices and fully support communities to prepare all youth for college and careers."
Vice President, Sustainability and Philanthropy, AT&T and President, AT&T Foundation
"The goal of GE's Developing Futures™ is to reach a national and state audience and build support for the college- and career-ready agenda among the public and private sectors. Achieve's Business Center fills a real need to make this a reality. As a 'one-stop-shop,' the website provides the business community with up-to-date resources and tools that build support to help students meet rigorous college- and career-ready standards."
Director, U.S. Education Programs, GE Foundation
On behalf of Achieve, President Michael Cohen states:
"The support of the business community is critical to the success of education reform over the long haul, and Achieve is proud to support this community through the Business Center for a College- and Career-Ready America. The new website equips business and industry leaders with the strategic tools and resources they need to help states, communities and students reach their college- and career-ready goals. Achieve looks forward to continuing its work with corporate and foundation leaders and strengthening education achievement nationwide."
Achieve is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is leading the effort to make college and career readiness a priority across the country so that students graduating from high school are academically prepared for postsecondary success. When states want to collaborate on education policy or practice, they come to Achieve. At the direction of 48 states, and partnering with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, Achieve helped develop the Common Core State Standards. Twenty-six states and the National Research Council asked Achieve to manage the process to write the Next Generation Science Standards. Achieve has also served as the project manager for states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which are developing next generation assessments. And since 2005, Achieve has worked with state teams, governors, state education officials, postsecondary leaders and business executives to improve postsecondary preparation by aligning key policies with the demands of the real world so that all students graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to fully reach their promise in college, careers and life. For more information, see www.achieve.org.
GreenBiz Group is bringing their annual GreenBiz Forum series to Pheonix, AZ, February 18-20, as part of the Sustainability Solutions Festival and is offering CSRwire members a special discount.
GreenBiz Forum 2014 brings together an unprecedented partnership between GreenBiz Group, The Sustainability Consortium, and the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU to give attendees an unparalleled in-depth look at the key challenges and opportunities facing sustainable business today.
Framed by the seventh annual edition State of Green Business report, the high-wattage stage presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities will make the 2014 GreenBiz Forum an unforgettable event.
This year’s theme is “Getting Further Faster,” reflecting the need to accelerate progress beyond the incremental. Among the key themes will be: Risk and Materiality, Big Data Meets the Supply Chain, the New Corporate Energy Manager, Zero Waste, Net-Positive Buildings, and Integrated Reporting.
Featured speakers include:
- Richard Mattison, CEO, Trucost
- Aron Cramer, President & CEO, BSR
- Tod Arbogast, VP, Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility, Avon Products, Inc.
- Peter Bakker, President, WBCSD
- Francesca DeBiase, VP, Worldwide Supply Chain, McDonald's Corporation
- Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement, Asia Pulp & Paper
- Adam Lowry, Co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper, Method
Caspian Advisors is proud to announce that its portfolio companies are among the first to update their annual ratings by GIIRS (Global Impact Investment Rating System). GIIRS is a ratings platform for impact investing that provides comparable social and environmental performance data on high impact investment funds and companies seeking investment capital. Caspian and its portfolio companies recognize that social businesses must demonstrate their impact in a way that moves beyond anecdotes and inspires investor confidence. Caspian is one of the first GIIRS Pioneer Fund Managers and two of its funds – the India Financial Inclusion Fund (IFIF) and Bellwether Microfinance Fund (Bellwether) – are participating in the annual ratings updates, reflecting Caspian’s commitment to establishing comprehensive, comparable benchmarks of companies’ and funds’ social impact in the same way financial performance is benchmarked.
GIIRS ratings are rigorous and transparent ratings of company and fund impact reviewed by an independent third party. GIIRS scores companies on a scale of one to five stars in 4 impact areas: Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment. These impact areas capture both (a) companies’ impact business models designed to solve social and/or environmental problems and (b) the companies’ impact through operational activity (sometimes referred to as ESG practices). The Fund Rating comprises a portfolio score based on the company ratings plus a fund manager assessment score.
The Caspian portfolio includes nine active investments in microfinance institutions Equitas Holdings Private Ltd, Ujjivan Financial Services Private Ltd, Sonata Finance Private Ltd, Arohan Financial Services Private Ltd and Janalakshmi Financial Services Private Ltd; housing finance companies Micro Housing Finance Corporation Private Ltd and Aptus Value Housing Finance India Ltd; and financial inclusion enablers like technology company A Little World Private Ltd and affordable housing developer Value and Budget Housing Corporation Private Ltd.
The average score for the Caspian companies is 123 or 4 stars – in the top 2 quintiles of GIIRS rated companies – with five companies scoring in the top quintile (5 stars). The score of 123 compares to an average score of 100 (4 stars) for all GIIRS rated companies operating in emerging markets (n=293).
The assessments highlighted the following best practices among portfolio companies:
- Serving Those In Need: The GIIRS updates confirmed that portfolio companies are on track towards one of Caspian’s key social objectives of working with those clients least likely to have access and providing them with products/ services in a viable manner.
- All Caspian companies provide a socially beneficial product or service through improved and increased access to financial services.
- 8 Caspian companies work with traditionally underserved customers and on average, 93% of these companies’ clients are classified as low income, poor, or previously excluded (vs. 76% for other GIIRS emerging markets companies);
- 3 out of 7 have over 50% of company's branches and/or microfranchises located in areas with no other MFIs/bank branches.
- Institutional orientation / mindset to have a positive effect on clients’ lives: All companies have a commitment to measuring social impact, and they track key performance indicators (KPIs) and/or outcomes over time.
- Best-in-Class Governance: All 9 companies in the Caspian portfolios scored in the top quintile in Governance, signifying each company’s commitment to mission, high stakeholder engagement, strong governance structure and controls, and overall transparency.
- Commitment to Employees: 7 out of 9 companies scored 5 stars in the Worker impact area, earning points for providing supplemental health insurance to employees, offering skill-based training to non-managerial workers to advance their core job responsibilities, and employing managers from chronically underemployed populations.
- Job creation: Across the portfolio of companies, 20% new full-time and part-time jobs were created in the last year, now employing a total of 11,078 workers.
Caspian’s portfolio companies have been key partners throughout the GIIRS process, underscoring their dedication to transparency in social performance reporting. Caspian portfolio company Janalakshmi Financial Services says it is “privileged to have IFIF and its partner Caspian Advisors as one of its early investors. These institutions supported the recent infusion of over Rs. 3.25 billion of capital in Janalakshmi, which was the largest transaction in the Indian microfinance industry since the 2010 Andhra crisis. Investments by IFIF and Caspian Advisors are critical in supporting growth, innovation, and furthering financial inclusion, and GIIRS has been an important partner in this effort, enabling us to communicate our non-financial success internally, to our stakeholders, and to potential investors.”
About Caspian Advisors: Caspian Advisors is an investment advisory firm that invests capital in socially responsible, multiple bottom line businesses delivering financial and social value. Caspian’s assets under management total over USD 100 million, spread across two funds: the first-generation Bellwether Microfinance Fund, a pioneering Indian on-shore equity and debt fund launched in 2005 that invests in start-up and mid-sized Indian microfinance institutions (MFIs), and the second-generation India Financial Inclusion Fund, a USD 90 million fund that was set up in August 2008 as an off-shore India-focused equity fund, investing in high-growth, small to medium MFIs, affordable housing providers and enablers of financial inclusion. Caspian works with its partner Grassroots Capital Management PBC (a certified B Corp based in the US) to further the objectives of financial inclusion, capital appreciation, and social performance initiatives. Caspian and Grassroots were among the initial 40 signatories of the Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance (PIIF) and were recently selected for ImpactAssets 50 (IA50) showcase of impact investment fund managers for the third consecutive year. For more information, please contact email@example.com or +91 40 66297100 / 66465884, or visit the website www.caspian.in.
About Janalakshmi Financial Services: Janalakshmi Financial Services (Janalakshmi) is a for-profit MFI with assets of more than USD 200 million (INR 12 billion) as on date, with the entire promoter stake held in a not-for-profit, Jana Urban Foundation. This is the only MFI in India structured in such a manner, with the deliberate intent of keeping the social spirit intact. Janalakshmi’s market-based approach to financial inclusion is defined by three distinct characteristics: first, an exclusive focus on servicing the needs of the poor; second, a strong customer-value driven approach in designing financial products and services; third, the centrality of technology and processes as the foundation of a scalable enterprise. For more information on Janalakshmi, please visit www.janalakshmi.com.