+Acumen Becomes Largest Massive Open Online Course Provider in the Social Sector

By Acumen on August 26, 2015

+Acumen, Acumen’s online learning platform and global learning community for social change leaders, has expanded to become the largest massive open online course (MOOC) provider in the social sector. Launched in 2013, +Acumen was designed to bring the nonprofit venture fund’s unique model and 15 years of insights from building social enterprises in the world’s toughest markets to any individual looking to create impact using the power of the Internet. Free and globally accessible to anyone with Internet access, +Acumen today provides nearly 20 free online courses on social change and has garnered more than 200,000 sign-ups from 170 countries.

“Throughout our work, we recognized that the world needed not only companies committed to serving the poor but also morally grounded leaders armed with the skills and determination to tackle the biggest challenges facing our society,” said Acumen Founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz. “Ending poverty takes all of us, and +Acumen is building an interconnected community of global change-makers committed to driving change through social innovation and entrepreneurship.”

With topics ranging from storytelling to impact measurement, +Acumen’s free online curriculum is built around Acumen’s leadership model, which stresses not only the importance of financial and operational skills but also the need for moral imagination. The three tracks of Financial Skills, Operational Skills and Moral Imagination include courses such as ”Social Enterprise Models” and “Making Sense of Social Impact: Acumen’s Building Blocks for Impact Analysis.” Designed to be taken as an individual or with a group, +Acumen course participants conduct debates, build prototypes, work with low-income communities and push themselves out of their comfort zones to create an unexpected, more engaged learning experience that is different from typical online courses.

In creating +Acumen, Acumen leveraged its ecosystem of influencers, organizations and corporations that share its mission to help fund as well as design courses. American Express played an instrumental role in helping +Acumen get off the ground and has continued to offer its support as the platform’s keystone partner.

“American Express’ continued partnership with Acumen is a reflection of our commitment to increase the scale and impact of leadership training for emerging leaders,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of American Express Foundation. “Through its online courses and leadership tools, +Acumen is addressing the critical questions that many of these social sector organizations are grappling with and sharing important lessons from their work.”

+Acumen offers courses that leverage the expertise of organizations such as Ideo.org, Accion, Grameen Foundation, Bain & Company and Fossil Foundation, which is funding +Acumen’s newest course, “Social Entrepreneurship 101.” A free four-week immersion course, “Social Entrepreneurship 101” focuses on providing aspiring social leaders with the tools to become agents of positive change and draws upon Acumen’s nearly 15 years of investing in social entrepreneurs on the ground across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. The course features firsthand lessons from Charles Best of DonorsChoose.org and Thulsiraj Ravilla, Executive Director of India’s renowned Aravind Eyecare System, amongst others.

“We are tremendously grateful for partners like American Express and Fossil Foundation who recognize the importance of good leadership and building smart, socially minded leaders across industries and geographies,” said Jo-Ann Tan, Director and Lead Architect of +Acumen. “Thanks to their support, we’ve seen our courses create real impact. Course-takers have launched successful social enterprises, applied new skills on the ground to address problems of poverty and taken the leap to work or volunteer more actively for social enterprises.”

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