Impact investing used as a tool to reach the nation’s attainment goal

INDIANAPOLIS–Today Lumina Foundation announced the first group of strategic social investments that have been made under its impact investing program, a key new tool that will expand the Foundation’s capacity to serve as a catalyst in helping the nation increase attainment beyond high school. The Foundation’s first impact investments are:

  • Credly—a technology platform for verifying, sharing and managing digital badges and credentials that empowers the recognition of lifelong achievement;
  • BridgeEdU—the provider of intervention services to improve retention and college completion targeting the highest-risk first-year college students; and
  • New Profit—a leading accelerator with a long history and proven record of scaling high-impact nonprofit organizations.

Lumina Foundation’s strategic social investment strategy will be used to invest in companies, organizations and funds that can generate measurable and qualitative social impact that advance Lumina’s strategic goals to increase postsecondary attainment and close achievement gaps. Lumina will build on its significant grant-making expertise in postsecondary education to identify these innovative investments.

John Duong, director of strategic impact investments and social innovation at Lumina Foundation, leads the development of this work.

“We now have the full spectrum of impact investing tools to drive Lumina’s goal, marshaling partners and co-investors who share our commitment to improving postsecondary learning,” said Duong. “Our plan is to act as a strategic partner with investees. We want to use Lumina’s network and thought leadership in postsecondary learning to help advance their innovations and approaches. At the same time, we’re confident that these innovative approaches can inform our own grant making and help leverage investments from other partners as we work toward our highly focused goal.”

The Foundation has a selective screening process to identify investments. For example, each investment:

  • Must align with Lumina’s mission to move the needle toward the 2025 attainment goal;
  • Must be scalable, increasing rapidly the number of high-quality credentials and social outcome; and
  • Must be led by managers with a track record of success who value Lumina as a strategic partner beyond the financial investment.

The strategic social investing strategy also includes identifying unique innovations aligned with the Foundation’s goals. As part of this work, the first Lumina Social Innovation Prize was awarded to CareerVillage, an online platform where students ask career questions that are answered by real people sharing their experiences.

“Lumina Foundation has worked to use all of the tools at its disposal to help the nation achieve the goal,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO. “Strategic social investing is an opportunity for Lumina to exhibit leadership by catalyzing social investments targeted at increasing attainment and closing achievement gaps. We are eager to build this capacity and partner with other funders, investors and innovators.”

For more information about Lumina’s SSI work, please contact John Duong at or log on to:

About Lumina Foundation:
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

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