WIVA, Wharton Social Impact Initiative’s impact investing program, analyzed more than 600 deals and helped facilitate more than $1.6 million in funding. WIVA’s latest deal aims to have a positive impact on a major issue in the United States.

Incarceration statistics in the United States are startling. About 70 million Americans — 1 in 3 adults — have some kind of criminal record, making up almost 25 percent of the global incarcerated population. It’s particularly challenging to get a job if you have a criminal record: 27 percent of previously incarcerated Americans are unemployed. In comparison, the unemployment rate among the general population is 3.6 percent. Statistics show that those without jobs are more likely to commit repeat offenses.

The student investment team members at Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), a best-in-class impact investing educational program that mirrors typical investment fund activities, were eager to find businesses that were tackling this issue head-on. When we sourced 70 Million Jobs, the first national for-profit employment platform to help the formerly incarcerated find employment, we felt compelled to learn more.

Since launching in 2016, 70 Million Jobs has secured more than 2,000 careers for those with criminal records at more than 150 companies, including Uber, Berkshire Hathaway, and Shop Rite. The company operates a staffing business and a job board, and simplifies the job search process to eliminate the unique challenges it poses for the formerly incarcerated.

To further expand their impact, 70 Million Jobs has also partnered with a range of nonprofits and government agencies, including the City of Los Angeles, the City of San Francisco, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Through these employment initiatives and strategic partnerships, the company is directly addressing the growing problem of recidivism in the U.S. In Los Angeles, for example, 70 Million Jobs allowed employers to post a limitless number of jobs, and assisted applicants with connections to community-based organizations that provided job readiness training.

WIVA, Wharton Social Impact Initiative’s impact investing program, analyzed more than 600 deals and helped facilitate more than $1.6 million in funding. WIVA’s latest deal aims to have a positive impact on a major issue in the United States.

“[WIVA] clearly understands the impact of what we are doing,” said Richard Bronson, 70 Million Jobs CEO and Founder. “Our goal is to land employment for one million deserving men and women, thereby short-circuiting the pernicious cycle of recidivism.”

Chirag Manyapu, W’20, sourced this transaction. “WIVA has been a game-changer in informing how I look at investing,” he reflected. “I had to get quite granular on the financial model, as well as what the impact was and how many people were affected.”

Matt Melbourne, investment team principal at Republic, noted that he and his colleagues “enjoyed collaborating again with WIVA and raising funding in this important space.” He added, “We continue to be highly impressed by the quality and impact of companies that WIVA shares with us.”

At WIVA, we are excited to provide Penn students hands-on, real-world experience in impact investing and look forward to announcing more work in the near future.

— Rajith Sebastian


Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article. In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.

Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA. No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.

Copyright ©2022 the Wharton School. All rights reserved. The information, methodologies, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are proprietary of the Wharton School and/or its students, are intended for non-commercial use, and may not be copied, distributed or used in any way, including via citation, unless otherwise explicitly agreed in writing. They are provided for informational purposes only and (1) do not constitute investment or financial advice; (2) cannot be interpreted as an offer, indication, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or to undertake any kind of business transactions; (3) do not represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor of its creditworthiness; and (4) are not a substitute for a professional financial, legal, and tax advice.

Posted: February 24, 2020

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