More than 200 people attended a University-hosted social impact investing conference on Friday, featuring a series of speakers in the morning and breakout sessions in the afternoon.
Participants in the conference — which was held for the first time this year — represented groups from around the state serving disadvantaged and otherwise at-risk communities, and discussed ways to invest for both financial gain and fostering social progress.
The conference was imagined and organized by Joshua Ogburn, a graduate student at the University’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. The University is an ideal location to host this kind of statewide conference, he said.
“I think people look at U.Va. as the flagship university of the state where interesting ideas come from,” Ogburn said. “And it is centrally located.”
Ogburn said he anticipated approximately 125 attendees, but wound up with closer to 250 people at the conference.
“It is a success beyond anything I could have imagined,” he said.
Aside from the structured talks during the day, organizers and guests treated the event as an opportunity to network. Different groups of attendees engaged with one another, particularly during and between breakout sessions.
“I wanted to provide a way for [attendees] to meet like-minded people,” Ogburn said.
The one-day event was hosted by the University’s Social Entrepreneurship group, along with the Batten School and other groups not related to the University.
Patricia O’Brien, president and CEO of the Children’s Health Investment Program in Chesapeake, said she had read about social impact investing but not yet attended a conference addressing the subject.
The adoption of social impact investing by companies and organizations would open doors to new funds for groups like the Children's Health Investment Program, O’Brien said.
“We’re always looking for a new way to continue our mission,” O’Brien said. “This sounds like an innovative way to get sustainable funding for our program.”