Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Andrea Levere, the founder of Enterprise Capital Institute. Let’s learn what’s happening at Enterprise Capital Institute and how Andrea is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Andrea, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Enterprise Capital Institute?
Andrea: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our goal is to make sure that organizations that want to advance the SDG Goals have the right type of funding to make this possible—long-term, flexible money that helps them build strong organizations. We do this by convincing funders—foundations, public agencies, and individual donors—that this type of funding creates more change in the world by letting changemakers do what they are best at.
Spiffy: What would you say motivates you to do it?
Andrea: I ran a nonprofit organization for 27 years. I was lucky in that I had a background in finance that helped me raise the type of funding my organization needed to meet its mission of reducing wealth inequality. But many of my colleagues did not have this background, and I saw many of their organizations struggle despite doing very important work. I decided it was time to bring philanthropy into the 21st century and educate nonprofit leaders on why they needed to ask for the funding that they need to do their work, and not compromise for what they think they can get.
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
Andrea: My hope is that my work helps to make life better for low-income communities by expanding the services and opportunities that are available to them when the organizations that serve these communities have the resources they need to truly achieve their missions. It strengthens nonprofit organizations by helping them pay salaries their staff deserve and invest in the technology and other resources they need to do their work. And it helps all types of funders who can see higher returns on their investments through the greater impact that is achieved.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your community?
Andrea: We are working with a funders' collaborative in Arkansas to create a $50 million Enterprise Capital Fund to fund organizations working in low-income and communities of color in the state. Arkansas is a poor state with a weak nonprofit sector that deserves more funding that it has received in the past. This fund will serve as a model of what can be accomplished by trusting local leaders and communities to make the investments that they know will make a difference.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Andrea: Many people are afraid of finance because it seems mysterious and the language of Wall Street. But finance is part of everyone's lives, and is not hard to learn. Understanding how to find the type of funding necessary to support the changes that our communities need to thrive is some of the most rewarding work you can ever do.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Andrea—it’s been an honor!
Andrea Levere is the founder of the Enterprise Capital Institute working to advance the practice of Enterprise Capital to build financial strength and resilience and reduce the racial wealth gap in the nonprofit sector. She is President Emerita of Prosperity Now, an organization that designs and operates national initiatives to expand economic mobility. (Nominated by Dan Egol at IDEAS Generation. First published on the Ladderworks website on June 16, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.