A Letter From Classy’s Co-Founders: An Exciting Announcement About the Collaborative + Classy Awards

4 min
map of the united states east coast with Boston highlighted

After five amazing years in San Diego, we’re excited to announce our plans to expand the Collaborative and Classy Awards, and relocate this coming year’s event to Boston’s Seaport Innovation District on June 14-16, 2016.

We started the Collaborative and Awards back in 2009 in San Diego to recognize the amazing work of the nonprofits and social enterprises driving significant progress in our community. That goal was a reflection of our company’s commitment – to help organizations mobilize and empower their communities to solve social problems. In that first year, 235 San Diego-based programs were nominated for consideration. With the support and participation of the Leadership Council, and our partners the United Nations Foundation, Southwest Airlines and Guidestar, the event has grown dramatically over the past few years in both size and scope. Last year, more than 3,600 programs in 115 countries were evaluated, collectively addressing hundreds of social problems worldwide.

Our team is committed to continually challenging ourselves to improve and think differently about this experience, and we’re excited to share some big changes for this coming year. First, we’ve come to appreciate that one of the most valuable pieces of the event for all participants is the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of leaders, innovators and experts across the social sector. So we’ve decided to expand the Collaborative to a 3-day event, and place even more focus on creating opportunities for networking and collaboration.

Second, we’re redesigning the event with an emphasis on tangibly showcasing social innovation to create an even greater environment of discovery and learning. From robotics to cancer detecting technologies, resilient city improvements to mobile education, the Collaborative and Classy Awards will feature the models, inventions and emerging ideas that are reshaping our social landscape. However, our goal is not to simply highlight their programs onstage as we have done in years past; our goal in 2016 is to bring their efforts to life in the most tangible and personal way possible. So, in addition to thought provoking keynote addresses, panel discussions and curated debates, this year we’re designing the Collaborative to feature product demonstrations and data visualizations that will create an exciting, hands-on experience for all attendees.

This last priority was also the biggest motivation for relocating the event. If the Collaborative and Classy Awards are to become the largest showcase of social innovation from around the world, it was critical that we host the event in a city renowned for its innovation ecosystem. Amid a number of amazing regions that we evaluated, one stood out to us as the frontrunner – Boston.

Boston is home to a number of impact-focused incubators with hundreds of emerging social enterprises. Several of the leading universities – including Babson, Boston College, Harvard, MIT and Northeastern – have established dedicated social entrepreneurship programs. Many of today’s progressive social investment practices have been spearheaded out of the city, including venture philanthropy, social impact bonds and pay-for-success models. Boston also has one of the largest community foundations in the country, three of the top nonprofit consulting firms, and several of the largest leading nonprofits nationwide, including Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Accion International and CityYear. The city’s social focus is anchored by a diverse group of top science and technology corporations addressing robotics, big data, biotech and life sciences. The area has attracted some of the largest web and software companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, which have all established satellite offices in the Greater Boston area.

The purpose of the Collaborative today is not far from what we originally set out to do: shed light on the most promising emerging social solutions and connect those solutions with key influencers, media and investors in the sector. We’re excited to take on this next chapter in the evolution of the Collaborative and Classy Awards, and hope you’ll be able to join us in making this year’s experience more remarkable than ever.


Scot Chisholm & Pat Walsh

Scot Chisholm

Co-Founder & CEO, Classy

Pat Walsh

Co-Founder & CIO, Classy

Editor’s Note: This post was published on October 22, 2015.


Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 60,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.