SAN FRANCISCO- October 2018- I am the owner of a yoga studio called All Life is Yoga, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Dharma Project, an Atlanta-based non-profit that brings mindfulness and yoga to communities and organizations that experience high levels of stress and/or trauma. This includes public servants like police officers, first responders, teachers, and leaders in government and the nonprofit sector.
Since our launch in 2016, The Dharma Project has had the privilege of partnering with many organizations, including At-Promise Center, Atlanta Public Schools, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, Greening Youth…the Dharma Project has launched programs to serve police officers from 3 precincts in Atlanta and over 20 teachers across the metro Atlanta area. The Dharma Project was selected as a winner of the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s SPARK Prize and Rutu was named “Best Yoga Teacher in Atlanta” by Creative Loafing, was awarded the 2016 Civic Innovation Fellowship through the Center for Civic Innovation (with support from the Community Foundation), and received an investment from SPANX founder Sara Blakely for her work.
Most recently, the Dharma Project received a Social Impact Loan from Invest Atlanta and Spanx. This zero interest loan has supported our ability to create organizational stability and increase capacity by hiring a Director of Operations.
Just last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) Conference in San Francisco, the world’s largest annual convening of impact investors and social entrepreneurs. As a guest of the Community Foundation and its GoATL impact investment fund, I joined a group of other Atlanta leaders (including several founders of the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative) to learn about the latest trends is social innovation and impact investing. Being at SOCAP was so inspiring and I’m grateful for the Community Foundation for offering me this opportunity. The vitality and urgency of impact investing made it, at times, feel like a movement. There were financial institutions, venture capitalists, nonprofits, educators, foundations, consulting firms, those in agriculture business, those fighting for indigenous people’s justice, etc.—I was surrounded by change-makers and those that want to invest in them! It’s difficult to receive loans for social good, so hearing stories of how ROI’s are framed was enlightening. What is the economic value of justice, human rights, democracy? I enjoyed learning from those that are doing the hard work on how they used investments to build stronger organizations and increase impact and from investors on what they’re investing in and why.
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Rutu Chaudhari is the Founder and Executive Director of The Dharma Project, which provides self-care practices to public service organizations and the communities they serve. Learn more about The Dharma Project at https://www.thedharmaproject.org/.
The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) provides resources to connect, educate and inspire stakeholders for the purpose of accelerating the development of Georgia’s impact investing ecosystem. Recently, GSIC announced the launch of the Georgia Social Impact Map (the “Map”), an interactive platform designed to connect and educate stakeholders interested in accelerating impact investing for social outcomes. Intended as a resource for communities around the state, the Map connects new forms of capital to sustaining and scaling solutions to social challenges. GSIC also provides workshops and programming for training specific groups of stakeholders on ways to leverage impact investing to achieve their impact goals, such as the workshop described below, which was attended by 30 leaders of some of GA’s top social enterprises and nonprofits.