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New Civic Impact Initiative to Help Improve Health and Prosperity for Vulnerable Populations

Jan. 26, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas — A new “engine” that aims to improve health and prosperity for 1 million vulnerable people in Texas and beyond by 2030 has been co-established in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. The Impact Factory, a first-of-its-kind, cross-sector collaboration, will foster civic innovation, entrepreneurship and service learning beyond the classroom.

Led by joint LBJ/Dell Med faculty member, pediatrician and entrepreneur Dr. Michael Hole, The Impact Factory will tackle longstanding social problems, such as poverty and inequality, in new ways through civic innovation and entrepreneurship. Hole and his team are already making a difference: One hunger-facing program under the Factory’s umbrella has delivered almost 800,000 pounds of food to nearly 26,000 people since its launch in spring 2020.

“We’re hitting the ground running,” Hole said. “Our scrappy, growing team is already scaling innovative programs and building an evidence base, cross-sector partnerships and talent pipeline for sustainable, positive change. America faces multiple crises, both longstanding and new, impacting people’s lives and livelihoods. Folks are hurting. We’re in the arena now with a sense of urgency I hope is contagious.”

Examples of projects in The Impact Factory’s portfolio include:

  • Good Apple, a doctor-prescribed grocery delivery service fighting food insecurity;
  • Main Street Relief, a nationwide network of volunteers helping small businesses with financial management, strategic planning, technology and more;
  • Early Bird, a scholarship fund and rewards program for babies born into families experiencing poverty; and,
  • Big & Mini, a videoconferencing platform matching seniors and teens to combat social isolation and loneliness.

The Impact Factory’s core operations are fourfold:

  • Prototyping: Leveraging business tools to design, launch, study and scale proof-of-concept innovations
  • Acceleration: Connecting promising or evidence-based ventures with the community partners, mentors and potential funders they need to scale impact
  • Teaching: Building tomorrow’s leaders via experiential learning programs, workshops and formal courses on design, impact evaluation, entrepreneurship and more
  • Capacity-Building: Strategically disseminating discoveries, best practices and other cutting-edge data to academic, policymaking, practitioner and lay audiences

“Crafting solutions to today’s complex societal challenges takes service-oriented leadership and an interdisciplinary lens,” said David Springer, LBJ School interim dean. “Through the Impact Factory, Dr. Hole and his team are disrupting the existing system to improve health and prosperity for all.”

“Social entrepreneurship is a critical mechanism for solving societal problems,” said Dell Med Dean Clay Johnston, M.D. “Michael’s program creates a platform for impactful community interventions and also trains the next generation of creative leaders.”

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