Remembering Priya Haji

Posted by on July 16th, 2014



The SOCAP community is deeply saddened by the passing of entrepreneur Priya Haji. Priya was CEO & co-founder of both SaveUp and World of Good, an online wholesaler of sustainable goods. She was a respected voice in social impact and we have been honored to work with Priya since the first SOCAP conference in 2008.

We know Priya’s great work will continue through the countless lives she touched. A fund has been started by Future of Fish Founder Cheryl Dahle for Priya’s two young children.





Health Intervention in Public Schools

Posted by on June 24th, 2014

By: Stephanie A. Whyte MD, MBA; Chief Health Officer, Chicago Public Schools

Prompt: Given your role in the Chicago Public Schools, the SOCAP community will most benefit from learning about the challenges that face the public school system, and its direct relationship to the health of the students. Specifically, we hope to learn from the successes (and failures, if relevant) of implementing health-based initiatives. 

In 2012, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Heath hired the district’s first ever-Chief Heath Officer.  The primary charge was to build the infrastructure to remove health-related barriers to learning.  Research shows and most people will agree “Healthy students are better learners.” But how does one promote and prioritize health and wellness in a system whose main objective is to educate students?

From the onset, it is necessary to make the connection between student health and academic success.  For example, students who are more fit perform better academically (Grissom, 2005); students miss 51 million hours of school annually due to dental problems (Surgeon General’s Report 2000); and experts agree that 80% of what children learn is processed through the visual system. Quite simply, if little “Johnny” cannot see the blackboard (or smart board as the case may be) he will certainly struggle with reading and literacy.


The state of Illinois mandates vision and hearing screenings for select grades of students annually as well as a comprehensive vision exam for kindergarten students.  Over 30,000 Chicago Public School students failed their vision screening last year.  Once a child fails a screening, it is the responsibility of the parent to seek further evaluation. One of the systems of support that Chicago Public Schools has in place is a comprehensive vision exam program in which schools have the option to visit a year-round CPS partner-ran vision clinic or receive school-based services at their school.  With the school-based option, optometrists arrive with all equipment in tow to provide services to students’ thereby creating access to care and removing vision as a health obstacle to learning.

The impact of this program on student achievement is heralded in the true story of little “Johnny” (not his actual name) below:

A Chicago Public School opted into the school-based vision exam program and its school nursetargeted students who failed the vision screening, were kindergarten students and/or were recommended by the teacher for evaluation.  A visit to the school from a vision service provider ensued and little “Johnny” a kindergartener received his state mandated exam.   Prior to this exam, “Johnny” had an individualized education plan (IEP) with a diagnosis of borderline autism.  During his comprehensive exam, it was noted that “Johnny” had rapid intermittent eye movements, he was referred for specialty care where it was also noted that he had headaches due to light sensitivity and problems with visual processing and tracking.

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“Johnny” was prescribed tinted eyeglasses that “slanted” his world and a visor.  The change was almost immediate!  After receiving the eyeglasses, “Johnny” performed much better in school.  He no longer required an individualized education plan and was perceived to be a completely different student by his teacher.  “Johnny” progressed so well that he was subsequently tested for and enrolled into one of the district’s regional gifted centers.

Whereas, the impact of this story is profound; it reinforces that “healthy students are better learners.”  Health can be a barrier to learning but once identified and treated, unexpected gains and results can ensue.  Of note, the Mayor of Chicago has since expanded this school-based vision model, which is expected to serve 45,000 Chicago Public School students in 2014.

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For those of us in the trenches, it is a serves a wonderful reminder that we must treat and teach the entire child and leverage all of resources to ensure their success.  As we respect the role of the school as the hub of the community, we must strengthen the relationships and engagement of all stakeholders.  And in this age of innovation, we must consider those who are not traditionally seated at the table for inclusion in the discussion.

Tune into conversations with Dr. Whyte at the SOCAP Health Conference, June 25 + 26.
Checkout the free conference livestream sponsored by the CDC. 

Best Addressed by a New Yorker

Posted by on June 24th, 2014

By: Marla E. Salmon, ScD, RN, FAAN; Professor at University of Washington

I received an invitation from Divya Chandran to contribute to the SOCAP Health blog. It read: Given your expertise on the practical and sociopolitical aspects of nursing, the SOCAP community will most benefit from learning about why nurses are a necessary, powerful voice in discussions surrounding health solutions….”

I accepted, because I think it’s a topic well worth discussing.

My sole regret is that this blog isn’t being written by Lillian D. Wald, a New York social entrepreneur and nurse who understood SOCAP before it was even a concept.  I’ll do my best to channel her, nonetheless.

First, an introduction to Lillian D. Wald, excerpt from the Henry Street Settlement website* (1).

.…In 1893, after witnessing first-hand the poverty and hardship endured by immigrants on the Lower East Side, she founded Henry Street Settlement. She moved into the neighborhood and, living and working among the industrial poor, she and her colleagues offered health care to area residents in their homes on a sliding fee scale. In addition to health care, Henry Street provided social services and instruction in everything from the English language to music. 

Wald quickly came to devote herself to the community full-time. By 1913, the Settlement had expanded to seven buildings on Henry Street and two satellite centers, with 3,000 members in its classes and clubs and 92 nurses making 200,000 visits per year. The Settlement offered an astonishing array of innovative and effective social, recreational and educational services. 

As headworker of Henry Street Settlement until 1933, Wald drew from global intellectual currents of reform — especially networks of women and Progressives — as she integrated her Settlement into powerful political networks for social change. During her 40 years at the helm, she established herself as a courageous national leader in campaigns for social reform, public health and anti-militarism, and as an international crusader for human rights.

…Wald was also an advocate for children, labor, immigrant, civil and women’s rights. She helped institute the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the United States Children’s Bureau, the National Child Labor Committee and the National Women’s Trade Union League. A champion of local causes such as Seward Park’s playground and global issues such as bans on child labor and access to health care, Wald encouraged all citizens to act on their own responsibility to all of humanity.”

*The Henry Street website is great to visit– so is going in person to the Henry Street Settlement in NY.

New York Visiting nurse taking a shortcut over tenements, late 1800’s

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Lillian D. Wald, social entrepreneur and nurse, 1867 – 1940

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* * * * *


My take on Wald, nursing, and the SOCAP community:

Wald thought being a nurse helped in her work. “…I rejoiced that I had a training in the care of the sick that in itself would give me an organic relationship to the neighborhood (2).  She also knew that being a nurse did not mean going it alone.  Wald inserted herself in a much larger landscape of business, philanthropy, politics, the arts to get her work done.  What Wald added to the community development and health equation is still relevant today.   She demonstrated the value of nurses as:


  • Community connectors:   Wald knew that working effectively in and with communities requires knowing and valuing the people who live there.  Nurses are important members of virtually every community – they are the “first to step up” volunteers, and the informal resource and go-to-family member for health information and support.  The trust that nurses inspire, their connections, and their expertise enable them to make connections that are key to effective health-related community development.


  • Investment & health improvement opportunities: Nurses bring value to health services innovation through their expertise, flexibility, human connection, and relative cost.  Nurses are involved in innovations that are improving health and wellbeing in communities around the world, reaching underserved communities, addressing health disparities and providing accessible, high quality services to people in need.  Whether functioning as employees or owners/operators in health-related enterprise, nurses are an essential to building healthy communities.


  • Partners and collaborators:  Building partnerships in the SOCAP community is not easy – the work is complex, the critical partners have often never worked with one another and often speak different languages (professional and every-day).  It helps to have experts involved who also have the ability to reach across boundaries and make and connections with others.  Relationships are at the core of good partnerships and collaborations.  Nurses do this every day in so many different settings – bringing the human dimension to the table, bridging differences, and building common ground.


  • Advocates for social justice and improving the health and wellbeing of others:  It’s probably safe to say that making real differences in the lives of others is a common motivator for people who work in the SOCAP “space”.  Social justice and improving the health and wellbeing of others are closely aligned values and are at the heart of nursing. Individual nurses can make important contributions to advancing these aims as professionals, citizens, and partners. Nursing as a profession brings significant power in number and political voice, which drives  progress at local, state, and national levels.


* * * * * *


That’s it – the beginning of a conversation and my turn to invite you to add your voice…

Forces impacting the health of children, early 1900’s

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Tune into conversations with Marla at the SOCAP Health Conference, June 25 + 26.
Checkout the free conference livestream sponsored by the CDC. 


  2. From Lillian Wald, The House on Henry Street: Henry Holt and Company, Inc, 1915

Want to support healthcare? Then create jobs.

Posted by on June 24th, 2014

By: Nicholas Hazard, CALSO

We all know that the lack of exercise, poor diet and tobacco consumption contribute to aggravating health issues. So, we all go to the gym and eat organic food. But, did you know that being unemployed for years is considered a damaging behavior for health, just as being a couch potato?

It is scientifically proven that long-term unemployment leads to mental & physical health deterioration, especially among disadvantaged and young populations.

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”  -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Surprising? It shouldn’t be. We’ve known it for a long time. Scientists (Eisenberg and Lazarsfield in 1938[1]) and sociologists (Jahoda et al. 1933[2]) already understood after the Great Depression the link between health and employment: involuntary joblessness leads to mental issues, whether it is depression, anxiety, stress or hospital admission[3]. Erik Erikson, father of the theory on psychological development, has demonstrated that healthy and personal development is only possible if a person feels useful to his family and community. These conclusions have never been as relevant as today: the average number of persons with psychological problems among the unemployed is 34%, compared to 16% among employed individuals[4]. One in five Americans experienced some sort of mental illness in 2010[5]. When you know that mental illness cost about $300 billion alone in the United States[6], you understand how crucial this issue is!

But unemployment also provokes physical issues. In fact, the long-term unemployed are more likely to have unhealthy behaviors. Ralp Catalano demonstrates that unemployment is associated with an increase of alcohol consumption. More broadly, physical activity decreased during unemployment[7]. In the US, between 2005 and 2011, illegal drug use was 18% for the unemployedcompared to 8% for full-time workers[8]. William Eaton[9], famous for his use of an epidemiologic approach, demonstrates that these unhealthy behaviors lead to chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and musculoskeletal disorders. And even premature mortality….

It is frightening to see that these issues are even worse for young people & disadvantaged communities! The Youth Index 2014 shows that 40% of jobless young people experienced mental illness – including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks – as a direct result of unemployment[10]. 25% of these youth have been prescribed anti-depressants and 32% have felt suicidal thoughts[11]. The American Psychological Association[12] also underlines the fact that negative effects of long-term unemployment are larger for black and Latino individuals.

By ignoring health issues related to unemployment, a huge mistake is being made. We are underestimating the pain of thousands of excluded people suffering from physical or mental health afflictions.


If a country is ever demoralized, it will come from trying to live without work.”  -Abraham Lincoln.

If we want to reduce health issues, it is our responsibility to strengthen local communities by empowering individuals to reach their full potential. That’s why we work at giving individuals the tools to succeed. To favor employment, we are developing work integration programs. Our model aims at providing “Jump Jobs” in our social enterprises to long-term unemployed people. For 2 years, we provide on-the job training through paid apprenticeship adding a valuable experience on their resume. Helping these people into proper work is absolutely vital. Working in our social enterprises gives them the satisfaction of being able to provide for their families as well as allowing them to build self-esteem. With our work integration social enterprises, we support them get back on their own two feet!

In the Bay Area, CALSO is developing job inclusion programs, capitalizing on business models which have been working for the past 15 years in Europe and abroad. With a positive and direct impact on more than 85% of our beneficiaries, our model of Work integration Social Enterprises (WISE) has proven successful in providing adequate job inclusion solutions as well as improving health condition for local communities.

If you want to support healthcare issues, have a look at job inclusion!

Tune into conversations with Nicholas at the SOCAP Health Conference, June 25 + 26.
Checkout the free conference livestream sponsored by the CDC. 


[1] The psychological effects of unemployment, Eisenberg, P., & Lazarsfeld, P.F, 1938.

[2] Marienthal: The sociography of an unemployed community, Jahoda, M., Lazarsfeld, P.F., & Zeisfel, H.,1933.

[3] Labor market experience, work organization, gender inequalities and health status: result from a prospective analysis of US employed women, W.W. Eaton, P. O’Campo, and C. Muntaner, 2004.

[4] Unemployment impairs mental health: Mental-analyses, by Karsten I.Paul, 2009.

[5]Report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

[6] Annual Total Direct and Indirect Costs of Serious Mental Illnes, 2002.

[7] Health, physical activity level, and employment status in Canada, J. P. Grayson, 1993.

[8] National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2005-2011.

[9] Labor market experience, work organization, gender inequalities and health status: result from a prospective analysis of US employed women, W.W. Eaton, P. O’Campo, , and C. Muntaner, 2004.

[10] The Prince’s Trust Macquarie sixth annual Youth Index, 2014.

[11] The Prince’s Trust Macquarie sixth annual Youth Index, 2014.

[12] Exploring the link between unemployment and mental health outcomes, A. Goldsmith, T. Diette, 2012.

Health: The Untapped Market

Posted by on June 6th, 2014

The U.S. spends $2.7 trillion each year on health care—yet we are raising a generation of children who may live shorter and sicker lives than their parents.At SOCAP Health, we are unveiling a new market; one that values health. It’s lower cost, it includes everybody and it is investable at attractive returns. It’s a unique opportunity for those investors who can see a new, holistic opportunity where others only see an old system in decay.

We are not doing it alone; we are leveraging the expertise of leaders in finance, health systems, community development, policy and impact investing. Using a holistic approach that links housing, jobs, schools, exercise, and transportation, coupled with the latest mobile technology, devices and big data, we are outlining a fresh approach that will unveil investable opportunities for impact investors.

SOCAP Health has a two-day agenda featuring leaders in finance, policy, health systems, community development, philanthropy and impact investing as well as cutting edge entrepreneurs who are making it happen. Join SOCAP, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, The New York Academy of Medicine and the Build Healthy Places Network for the largest-ever convening exploring the untapped market for improving health:

Learn how health systems, social systems and innovative solutions are improving health in low-income communities
Meet entrepreneurs and policymakers working at the intersection of finance and health
Hear from organizations whose investments are generating economic gains and improvements in health and well-being

Join us as we work together to create a new market that values health—beyond health care—on June 25+26 in New York.

Secure your spot now!