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+Acumen Helps People Become More Effective at Creating Social Change

+Acumen is a global learning community for social change-makers. It’s a part of Acumen, a nonprofit that invests in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $106 million in 96 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia and was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies in 2015.

On Udemy, +Acumen runs a series of Master Classes that are part of their global online learning community dedicated to helping people become more active and effective at creating social change. To date they’ve partnered with thought leaders like Seth Godin, Chris Anderson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Krista Tippett and Dan Ariely to build courses that teach new mindsets and approaches to help people tackling the world’s toughest social issues.

+Acumen has 30,400 students on Udemy and nearly half a million sign ups across all its online courses. By building courses on Udemy, +Acumen wants to equip students tackling the world’s toughest social issues—like poverty, the refugee crisis, or climate change—with lessons from some of the the world’s most creative thinkers. These Udemy courses are also taken by staff members across Acumen’s global portfolio of social enterprises. For example, ten staff members at Sanergy, a company that provides toilets to slum communities in Kenya, just took Dan Ariely’s course to learn how to apply principles from behavioral economics to their marketing. They’re using the lessons from the course to help make health and sanitation more accessible across Africa’s informal settlements.

+Acumen’s courses have made a real impact. Chris Anderson’s course on public speaking is one of +Acumen’s most popular courses. Social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and teachers around the world have taken this course and used it to prepare pitches, deliver an important presentation to their board, or teach a concept to their students in new ways. For example, one woman who took the course is a founder of an NGO in Johannesburg, South Africa dedicated to improving math education among schoolchildren. She used the course to prepare for an important presentation about the impact of her work. Additionally, the Executive Director of a non-profit organization that works on reintegration of prisoners into Ugandan society also took the course to prepare for an important presentation. And an ed-tech entrepreneur in Bangalore, India used the course to refine his pitch to investors. This course has also been offered to all TedX organizers globally so that they can use to it coach the speakers who gather globally for their conferences.

Revenue from the courses hosted on Udemy allows +Acumen to continue to produce free learning opportunities and community for social entrepreneurs and changemakers around the world. This includes +Acumen’s free courses on human-centered design, systems thinking, and business models for social enterprises. Instead of relying solely on grant funding to continue to support these learning initiatives, +Acumen has partnered with influencers like Seth, Chris, and Liz who have generously donated their time to co-create Udemy courses that support Acumen’s broader work.

So what’s next? +Acumen has an exciting line-up of new Master Classes slated for 2017 and plans to scale up its efforts to introduce exciting online learning opportunities to social change-makers globally.

What can you do? Like +Acumen, every one of you has the ability to inspire minds around the world. Have you thought about how your courses impact your students, beyond learning new skills? If you have a story to share on the impact you have made with your students, we would love to hear from you. Please email your student story to patricia.witkin@udemy.com to share.