Executive Director, Social Impact 360
Allison Alt is an experienced non-profit advocate, policy professional, and attorney with more than 10 years of experience creating social impact in partnership with all sectors on behalf of vulnerable populations. Allison has spent her career in direct service and public policy, working with nonprofits, corporations, and across party lines in state and federal government, including at The White House, Department of Education, Capitol Hill, The World Bank, and The InterAmerican Development Bank. Allison began creating organizations to solve social issues at the age of 16.
As a policy advocate at Generations United, she built coalitions nationwide, taught advocacy to grassroots leaders, and educated legislators in national and state government on policies that serve low-income children and older adults in partnership with Children’s Defense Fund and AARP. She later joined the Year Up National Capital Region team in the startup phase and helped the organization grow 50% in her first year; working with an expert, multi-disciplinary team on solutions to youth unemployment and poverty, she became a workforce development expert and served as part of the team that created the largest youth-serving organization in the last 50 years. Allison took her knowledge and began training nonprofit professionals in how to create hybrid models and social enterprises to create impact as a consultant.
Allison is now the Executive Director of Social Impact 360, the only youth-led movement for business for good. Allison leads strategy, operations, budgeting, and programming for the 15 college chapter network and 1,000+ SI360 alumni who are revolutionary young CEO’s and top innovators at companies nationwide. SI360 trains the next generation in how to create businesses that solve social issues and how to create social impact in corporate America. SI360 is transforming the 1,000+ alumni at Social Impact 360 into the 1st Service Corps for Business for Good. It’s a Teach for America meets Tesla where SI360 alumni serve in expert consulting teams to provide recommendations and deliverables to transform businesses into the socially responsible companies of the future. Allison is a Forbes 2018 Fellow, 40 Under 40 in Leadership and Public Service in Washington, DC, and a past service award winner under President Bush, who has served in both Republican and Democratic offices and on non-profit teams to solve social issues.
“Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.” We aren’t going to be doing this anymore. I’m changing the future of business with the next generation. There is no reason we can’t have meaning and purpose in our work, and there is no reason we can’t solve important issues that matter to all of us in a financially sustainable way. Too long, it has been a choice, do well or do good. Make money or live a meaningful life. No more.
Social Impact 360 is a Teach for America meets Tesla. We train young people to build businesses that solve social issues and how to create social impact in corporate America. We have more than 1,000 alumni who are young CEO’s and young innovators at top companies, and we are transforming into the Service Corps for Business for Good. The purpose of the Service Corps is to train companies in how to solve pain points using corporate social responsibility and sustainability concepts because everyone should have the opportunity to “do well and do good” no matter where you work. Everyone should feel meaning and purpose in what they do, and we shouldn’t struggle for resources to do important, good, and meaningful work.
I began creating my own youth-serving leadership organizations for low-income children at the age of 16. Caring deeply about the welfare of vulnerable populations, I worked with the Children’s Defense Fund and Big Brothers Big Sisters. These experiences led me to start my second youth-serving organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters at the University of Florida, where I won the Work of Heart Award and the Presidential Service Award from President Bush.
I wanted to make a much larger impact, so I studied law and became an attorney in the State of Texas, and I moved to DC. I started on the Generations United Team, working for vulnerable populations, children and older adults across the nation as a policy advocate and organizer. I loved working with hardworking, beautiful people across the country taking care of their families and witnessed tremendous sacrifice. I translated healthcare and education policy amongst international and national experts to legislative staff on Capitol Hill, and I advocated at the White House, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services. This still wasn’t enough for me. One day, I was called by a dear friend who knew my passion for social impact. She told me there was a group of people creating a solution for youth unemployment. It was everything I had ever studied, practiced, and preached, so I joined the Year Up National Capital Region team in the startup phase. A scrappy, small, brilliant team, we worked together as the organization grew over 6 years beyond anyone’s wildest expectations to the largest youth-serving non-profit in history.
We used multidisciplinary approaches to solve important, complex social problems. The model was one of the first and most successful for-profit, non-profit hybrids in the country with outstanding workforce outcomes. I worked intimately with corporate social responsibility professionals nationally and a team with a mostly corporate background for social change. This led me to become convinced that the business sector and non-profit sector had a lot to learn from each other and that a third entity, social enterprise, was needed for social good work to be financially sustainable and scale in the future. It gave me a vision for the future of business and our potential for social good when we work together. We can both do well and do good, and we’re going to prove it. I took my knowledge and taught youth-leadership experts internationally at the World Bank and InterAmerican Development Bank. Not satisfied, I started creating curriculum to train non-profit professionals to become more efficient and effective, using business principles, as well as how to serve young people and create impact.
This led me to my newest role leading the only youth-led movement for business for good. I train the next generation in how to build businesses for social good and create impact in corporate America. This wasn’t enough, so I am creating the 1st Service Corps in the business sector in history with our 1,000+ alumni corps to help them make real substantial impact in the business sector. This won’t be enough. I am determined to make a difference in my community and my world. I have been since birth, and I will not stop until I make the impact I came here to make. We can serve people better, and they deserve that. I believe I was put on earth to do it, and I consider myself lucky and blessed to be surrounded by people who care about the same and have provided incredible mentorship through my journey.
Never lose hope that we can create a better world because we can. My goal is to inspire the next generation of leaders that change the world and bring back a resurgence for goodness, humanity, integrity, principles, and service. I believe in civic engagement and service, and I always will.
We started to get a lot of calls from alumni of Social Impact 360 who were working in corporate America, and they were all saying the same thing. “I miss meaning and purpose in my work, and I am miserable here without it. I don’t know what to do about it. Do I have to switch jobs? Can you find me a job in social impact?” These are all brilliant, talented, innovative 20 and 30-year-olds. I didn’t know what to tell them. I would tell them, “well we don’t have a lot of jobs in social impact available yet honestly.” I felt badly for them. I know what it is like to have to make that choice, and I couldn’t do it.
For me, it doesn’t make any sense why we have businesses that don’t work and solve important issues that matter to society that also make revenue and profit. It doesn’t make sense why people have to leave the corporate sector to gain meaning and purpose in their work. It doesn’t make sense why the social sector has to struggle for resources to do good, important, meaningful work.
What if we could teach the future of business to do better? What if we could combine the best elements of the for-profit and non-profit sector?
What if we could do the right thing and do well?
I put this idea in front of a few employees at Deloitte. “What if we transformed our alumni corps at Social Impact 360 to teach companies how to do well and do good?” We could use the expertise of the best in the field to inform our alumni in how to provide recommendations to companies on how to move to become more socially responsible and sustainable while meeting or increasing the bottom line.
The employees at Deloitte were so excited about this idea and getting a chance to contribute to it and serve on it that they created a strategic plan for the Service Corps in basically a day.
That is when I knew I had something.
It wasn’t just my students that were feeling this way; it was everyone.
I think we’re operating on an old model of “business” and “nonprofit” that is ready to be changed.
The next generation doesn’t want to do meaningless work. No one does.
We’re creating the Service Corps for Business for Good, so that we can do meaningful work in a financially sustainable way, so that we can have meaning and purpose in our work, so that we can solve important things, so we can do the right thing, and do well and do good.
I think that’s worth fighting for.
I think with an idea the size of this the hardest thing has been managing the time it takes to build something like this. I’ve had to go out and talk to people about what I’m building and get rejected a million times. I’ve worked for more than a year to build partnerships and training for our alumni. I’ve failed a million times. This isn’t something that just happened or happens overnight. I spent about a million hours thinking over the strategic plan, calling experts to get their feedback, building the training, dreaming, putting together the specs for the technology to put it together, never knowing if any of that would come to fruition. At the worst, I said, my alumni will all be trained to go out there and make a better world. That felt worth the time to me. That felt worth the sacrifice. I put in the time because I believe in it. The stamina needed to build something huge and meaningful like that and continue believing in it when things aren’t going your way, to remain committed to why I’m building it has been very hard. It’s been very hard to believe in myself when things get really difficult and hard, but I just try to remember that it’s more about finding the right people who believe in that dream also to help me build it. It’s more about working on a collective mission to move us to something better. It’s bigger than me. I remember how important it is and how much I care. That helps.
I’m a music addict. I listen to music as if it’s going to run out of supply. I’m an artist at heart.