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Maria English: Empowering Community Organizations to Increase Their Impact

Maria English: Empowering Community Organizations to Increase Their Impact


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and 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 and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Maria English, the CEO of ImpactLab. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world. 

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Maria! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?

Maria: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! We want to help make investment work for communities so that people can live the lives they choose. We do this by giving information to charities, community organizations, and their donors to help them understand the difference they make in peoples' lives and figure out ways of having even more impact. We work with organizations helping people in many different ways, whether that is through sports, arts, mentoring, housing, financial support, or pretty much anything else you can imagine.

Spiffy: Awesome! What motivates you to do it?

Maria: I believe everyone has the right to form hopes and goals for their lives, and to pursue them. But some people face real barriers to living the life they want because of poverty, broken family relationships, health challenges, or other reasons. Whether it's choosing to turn up to school or to tackle a drug addiction or to get out of debt, it can take real courage to make positive changes in your life. Luckily, there are many amazing people and groups who can help. I think these people deserve the best tools possible to support their work.

Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?

Maria: We take organizations through a process of telling the story of the impact they want to have, and then put evidence behind that story using a mix of government, academic, and community data. This journey helps organizations learn more about where their investment is going, what impact it is having, and how they could improve their data or increase the impact of their services. They can also use the data to show funders the difference they're making in peoples' lives, so they can raise funds and do more good work.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent initiative by ImpactLabs. What impact does that make? 

Maria: We recently worked with an organization that helps five- to seven-year-old children in schools around New Zealand who are struggling to learn how to read. From the data review we learned that if we can help all children get confident in reading, they are more likely to feel good about themselves and are better equipped to learn across all subjects. The organization was able to use the measurement to help make the case for funding to expand their program nationally and to show schools and families the benefits of the approach.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Maria—it’s been an honor!

Maria English is the CEO of ImpactLab, a New Zealand-based analytics startup that connects decisionmakers with the information they can act on to grow their social impact. ImpactLab has so far estimated the impact of over 150 social interventions working with charities, community organizations, and their funders. Maria has an MBA from Stanford University and a BA in Politics, Psychology, and Sociology from the University of Cambridge. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 24, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. 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.