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The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the U.S.

cover bottom line report

Links to PDFs of full report and individual chapters.

There is no greater challenge in the United States today than income inequality. It has been 50 years since the War on Poverty began. We have made progress but not enough. More than 32 million children live in low-income families, and racial and gender gaps persist. For the first time, Americans do not believe life will be better for the next generation. We have both a moral and an economic imperative to fuel social and economic mobility in this country.

The Aspen Institute was founded in 1950 as a place to address the critical issues of our time. Today, ensuring that the American dream can be a possibility for all and be passed from one generation to the next is that issue. This commitment is at the heart of the work of many policy programs at the Aspen Institute. Ending the cycle of poverty requires leadership and hard work across all sectors, from nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and academia to the government and private sector.

The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the U.S. recognizes the importance of learning from all sectors in tackling any challenge. Specifically, it builds on opportunities in the growing impact investment field. The report draws on the lessons from market-based approaches to identify tools and strategies that can help move the needle on family economic security. 

Devin Thorpe, Forbes Contributor, discuss with Anne Mosle, the Bottom Line report: watch here.


In this report, you will find the following:

Aspen Institute and Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Survey

  • Findings and analysis of a survey of active and emerging impact investors

„Case studies

  • An opportunity to go under the hood on deals with the Bank of America, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Acelero Learning, and others

„Point of view essays

  • Insights and lessons from leaders in the field

„Deals at a glance

  • Snapshots of impact investors and what they have learned

„In-depth chapters on investments in education, economic assets, and health and well-being

  • Investment areas with the potential to advance economic and social mobility for low-income families
  • In each of these chapters you will find key facts, investment examples, lessons learned, and recommendations


  • Investor and sample investment profiles from the Aspen Institute survey and a glossary of key terms

The Bottom Line is a project of Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation. The Georgetown University McDonough School of Business partnered with the Institute on the survey design and analysis.

This project was made possible through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Links to PDFs of full report and individual chapters.


Hear what contributors are saying about the Bottom Line report:

Surya Kolluri, Managing Director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Reginald Sanders, Director of Investments, W.K.Kellogg Foundation

Debra Schwartz, Director, Program-Related Investments, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Aaron Lieberman, CEO, Acelero Learning: Part 1, Part 2

Melissa Bradley, Acting Director, White House Social Innovation Fund, and Professor, McDonough School of Business at Georgetown