GreenLight Awarded Grant for Social Innovation

Students using a GreenLight Credentials transcript can finish school seamlessly despite frequent transfers and be easily matched with employers.

Students using a GreenLight Credentials transcript can finish school seamlessly despite frequent transfers and be easily matched with employers.

DALLAS – April 24, 2019 –  Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) announced that GreenLight Credentials is one of fifteen organizations awarded a portion of $6.3 million in grants from CFT’s W.W. Caruth Jr. Fund.  CFT is the custodian of the Caruth Fund, the foundation’s largest endowment donated by William Walter Caruth, Jr. to advance innovative and evidence-based solutions to significant community challenges in the areas of education, public safety, health, and medical and scientific research. Mr. Caruth aspired to combine his heart for giving with the tools of entrepreneurship and scientific inquiry to bring about widespread community improvements, and these grants will advance those goals.

GreenLight Credentials is a startup company that has designed a digital ledger for academic credentials powered by blockchain technology. Individuals will own a consolidated record of all their academic and training achievements in a format that is secure and easily transferable. While this is clearly an advantage when applying to a new school or employer, the potential applications are far greater. Because all of the metadata associated with the credentials will be held on the system, GreenLight can design algorithms to initiate reverse credit transfer. That means students who have attended multiple postsecondary institutions will be alerted when they qualify for a degree. The system can flag candidates who have particular forms of preparation for employment opportunities and scholarships. Educate Texas, the statewide educational initiative dedicated to promoting successful transitions from school to workforce and life, will subcontract with GreenLight to build out these components of the platform using CFT’s Caruth funding. Educate Texas also will help GreenLight widen its network among school districts and post-secondary institutions.

Manoj Kutty, GreenLight’s CEO, summarized the potential for systemic impact in this way: “We are honored by CFT's support. GreenLight allows a student to own and control his or her educational achievements while giving colleges, scholarship providers and potential employers a way to easily match and connect with the student in a safe and secure environment. With Educate Texas’s help, we can make great strides to bring more academic and employment opportunities to all students in Texas.”

Of the 15 grants, nine seek to either improve educational outcomes for children and adults or advance institutional effectiveness through leadership and equity training, performance measurement or technology. Two of the grants aim to reduce crime and, in one case, build community connections by reclaiming neglected land. Four of the grants seek to improve the health and resilience of families through direct service or increased access to fresh food.

In accordance with Mr. Caruth’s vision, many of the newly awarded projects are intersectional, meaning that they utilize strategies that aim to improve outcomes across the Caruth focus areas. Sarah Cotton Nelson, CFT’s chief philanthropy officer, explained that this was intentional: “Our north star at CFT is building a thriving community for all. We want to be looking at the community’s challenges holistically and working across sectors to solve them.”

The grants range in size from a planning grant of $70,000 to implementation grants in the amount of $500,000. They will serve residents across the Dallas Metroplex, with a strong emphasis on high poverty areas. As noted earlier, some efforts encompass the entire state. CFT looked for projects at different stages of innovation and development. “We are being more explicit than ever about organizing our grantmaking along the stages of the human-centered design process from discovery through prototyping, implementation, and evaluation, to scale up. We plan to maintain a strong focus on data-tracking and storytelling throughout,” said Nadine Dechausay, the CFT’s director of community philanthropy who oversees CFT’s Caruth grantmaking strategy.

Today’s announcement is the largest set of Caruth grants that has been announced in a single year, plus CFT will announce several more grants in 2019. Updates will be published on the CFTexas.org website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. David Scullin, CFT’s president and CEO, expressed strong support for this much-expanded effort. “We are excited about this chapter of Caruth grantmaking. It shows how we are constantly refining our approach and working to connect the dots between visionary donors and extraordinary social innovation.”

Alex Page