December 14, 2017

As many of you read, Teju Ravilochan is transitioning out of his role as Uncharted’s CEO to pursue his next adventure, and our Co-Founder and President, Banks Benitez, will be stepping in as the CEO later this month. Here’s a letter he wrote to our network that describes where we are headed in 2018.

Dear Uncharted Community,

With Teju officially transitioning from CEO to the board, I want to begin by acknowledging how our team is so excited for him; for someone with as open a heart and as ambitious a moral vision as Teju has, he is among those rare unreasonable people who will “adapt the world to himself.” We’re also sad to no longer spend so much time with him, but as we wrap up 2017 and celebrate Teju, our team is doing it in style with pranks, goofy videos, and a send-off party.

The evolution from Unreasonable Institute to Uncharted

Teju’s transition caps off a year of transition for Uncharted. One year ago, we spent time reflecting on the shifting landscape of the social impact space since 2009 when the organization was founded. We asked ourselves: “Was this a time to double down and become a better accelerator or was it a time to build upon our strengths to climb a bigger mountain?” All of us agreed we had greater ambitions for the organization. It was time once again to push boundaries.

We weren’t satisfied with helping grow companies. We wanted to use the DNA of an accelerator to take on specific problems. We envisioned being an organization that had the audacity to surround complex social problems with the best people and organizations capable of showing measurable results.

Year in review 2017

2017 was a big step in that journey. We recorded some major wins while also stumbling and falling short. We got turned down by multiple funders, and it was a year when we had members of our team transition out of the organization. We also experienced challenges describing the shift in our work to the external world. But it was also a year when we ran our most experimental programs ever, while also leaping into a new brand and launching programs with teams in 11 countries.

–> We partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to invest $1 million in 10 organizations from across the U.S. that were tackling urban poverty with solutions like affordable housing, food stamp technology, and unique employment models. Read what we learned.

–> We partnered with the City of Denver to tackle a specific problem in a specific place: increase the access of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods in Denver. 10 organizations and 6 months later, we are building a coordinated movement of organizations with the goal of reducing food insecurity in one Denver neighborhood by 55%. Read what we learned.

2018: The year ahead

We have big things planned for 2018. We are working on an initiative to address one of the most complicated social problems we’ve taken on yet (more coming in 2018), we’re exploring a program designed to get low-income Americans into 21st-century jobs, and we’re planning to take the accelerator model beyond just entrepreneurs by working with foundations and corporations so they are better equipped to take on specific social problems. We will also be growing our team by adding 2-3 key roles.If we can show what’s possible when we accelerate and coordinate an organized movement of the best people and organizations around a problem, then we might just be able to prove a new model for how to effectively tackle the world’s most pressing problems. It is into those seas that we set sail.

Here’s how you can come aboard:

Become an Uncharted Insider by donating this December: We are building an inner circle of committed people who will help us chart the course forward. In the month of December only—whether you donate $1 or $100—you’ll receive a behind-the-scenes look into our organization with monthly updates from me, early announcements about major initiatives and hiring, exclusive access to our learning sessions and events, and maybe even a free t-shirt or two. You can sign up here.

Reach out and connect: We are building an army of people committed to tackling major social and environmental issues, and we want you to be a part of it. Reach out to learn how you can be involved (or just say hi): banks@uncharted.org

The next generation of our work is upon us. Here is to the new horizon!

Warmly,
Banks