Last Thursday evening, five of the Inspiring Capital Summer Fellows (along with our fearless leader Yael) had the opportunity to attend Robin Hood’s Nonprofit Intern Forum. The event offered a rare and fantastic chance to connect with peers working in a range of social sector positions, with presentations from Acumen Fund, Tiger Foundation, Uncommon Schools, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, JP Morgan CSR, New York Community Trust, and of course Robin Hood and Inspiring Capital, among others. Each presentation consisted of a manager’s introduction and usually three to six interns’ candid thoughts on their summer project and affiliate organization as a whole. Robin Hood’s Forum encouraged informal and genuine exchange of perspectives among its young professional participants. The truly passionate employees were not hard to spot, as the audience welcomed one organization after another – and I’ll mention with no small amount of pride that Inspiring Capital more than held our own! I think we probably took the trophy for loudest group overall (important to jolt the audience in that middle presenter slot), as well as longest lists of operational details (thank you, Dan, and your incredible knowledge of VFA’s finer strategic nuances!), and was at least in contention for highest average audience jealousy during Q&A (Your projects seem so cool, how did you find them??”).

Joking aside, even after hearing so many wonderful organizations speak about their summer programs, Inspiring Capital’s Inspire Impact remains my (utterly unbiased) favorite. No other organization offers the same combination of practical application, educational curriculum, and fantastic speakers that Inspiring Capital is pioneering, and my sense of awe in what Nell and Yael have accomplished in their very first summer of Inspire Impact continuous to grow.


But for Thursday’s event, my thanks and appreciation go to Robin Hood. From the opening ice-breaker (though my team was the only one that finished with negative points..) to the final few cauliflower florets (mixers are my leading source of vegetables in this expensive city!), Robin Hood struck just the right tone of informal but structured professional information sharing, all set in the backdrop of their sleekly utilitarian Union Square offices. I found the event a useful, stimulating, and highly practical approach to connecting professionals in an industry characterized by small and often fragmented organizations, and one which continuous to benefit from increasing conversation and cooperation.

-Caleb Ballou