What About Alice? The United Way, Collective Impact & Libertarian “Charity”

It seems the United Way is planning for a future inhabited by a mass underclass of precarious labor. In fact, this “future” may already be here, it’s just not evenly distributed as the quote attributed to William Gibson suggests. For the past few years United Way chapters nationwide have been mobilizing awareness campaigns around ALICE. The acronym stands for Assets Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE does not signify just female and female-identifying adults, but instead the masses of the working poor and their families. ALICE is the raw material that will be fed into the United Way’s “collective impact” machine. ALICEs may be pregnant teens, foster youth, single parents, indebted students, veterans, the disabled, the chronically ill, the elderly, the addicted, or families holding down multiple jobs who still cannot make ends meet.

ALICE Group Photo

United Way Impact Investment Products 1

Stephanie Hoopes, who earned a PhD in government and international relations from the London School of Economics, developed the ALICE campaign, which is housed within the United Way, and has served as its director since 2015. She taught in the UK early in her career, then became the treasurer of the New Jersey public television network. She also taught at Columbia and Rutgers where she served as director for the Rutgers-Newark New Jersey Databank. Social impact investing runs on data, especially interoperable data.

This January, Hoopes participated as a panelist in a “Prosperity Symposium” in Philadelphia, hosted by the Federal Reserve. Michael Nutter, Bloomberg’s “what works” government sidekick, was co-host. Not surprisingly there was much discussion of the need for additional research, but little mention of redistribution of resources to those in need. Federal Reserve branches across the nation are in the process of launching “economic mobility” initiatives, swift on the heels on the passage of the Foundations for Evidence Based Policy Making Act, the Social Impact Partnerships Pay for Results Act, and their companion program promoting Investing in Opportunity Zones.

While they may dangle “prosperity” in front of the ALICEs, the social impact investment scheme relies on folks never attaining stability, let alone “prosperity.” The ALICEs are going to be compelled to jump through hoop after hoop, digitally monitored of course: workforce training for non-existent jobs; addiction treatment that never offers a permanent cure; preventative health regimens that fail to take into account the toxic environments in which the poor are forced to live.

That is how the game of human capital speculation goes. The ALICEs may be allowed to improve their lot in some small, but “measurable” ways. Growth metrics after all ARE needed to fuel impact markets. We also know few ALICEs will ever be allowed to grasp the brass ring. Widespread prosperity would mean conditions suitable for impact investing would cease, and they will not allow that to happen. Those in power demand this macabre game continue. Why? Human capital investments are one of the few remaining places that can absorb concentrated flows of wealth that must continue to be circulated. ALICE management is a crucial element of this next phase of biocapitalism.

Prosperity Symposium 2019

Interactive map of the Prosperity Symposium held in Philadelphia here.

A prominent supporter of the ALICE concept is Senator Cory Booker, also from northern New Jersey and a major player in education privatization. He has an interest in social impact investing, having served on the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation and co-sponsored the Social Impact Partnership Pay For Results Act, which I wrote about here.

As mayor of Newark, Booker worked closely with Mark Zuckerberg on “innovative” approaches to transforming the city’s public schools, which caused grave harm to the children of that city. While many labelled the effort a failed investment, if Zuckerberg’s end game was actually to test interventions and further destabilize the system as a way of laying the groundwork for a broader program of impact investing, he might actually consider it a “success.” Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have put considerable dollars into scaling the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust in San Jose (more here). Such an interoperable data system is exactly the type of infrastructure needed to track and evaluate the “pay for success” deals that will be imposed on those fitting the ALICE profile.

ALICE Northern NJ.jpg

Interactive version of ALICE / Northern NJ here.

The ALICE initiative is backed by a variety of corporate and philanthropic interests working in the areas of fin-clusion (predatory lending), healthcare, insurance, energy, technology, and education. Several are members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and have ties to social impact finance, including Deloitte, which published a whitepaper on the importance of impact investing for hedge funds, and UPS, the corporate arm of the Annie E. Casey Foundation I mentioned in my prior post. For impact investment predators, ALICEs are a vast pool of untapped potential. If only they could be properly profiled, packaged, and processed through “pay for success” “collective impact”systems,  their dire situations would be somewhat ameliorated, netting a solid profit for those with the resources to underwrite “evidence-based” “solutions” to “fix” them.

ALICE Sponsors

Interactive map of ALICE Advisory Council members here.

ALICE National Advisory Council members include:

Aetna: insurer, healthcare innovation, digital identity systems

AT&T: ALEC member, ed-tech, “smart-city” 5g, Educare Pre-K

Atlantic Health System

Deloitte: Consulting firm advancing edge computing, social impact investing, collaborating on futures initiative with Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund and Singularity University

Entergy: ALEC member, energy company

Johnson & Johnson: ALEC member, digital health, global aid, maternal mobile health innovations, corporate arm of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Key Bank: Regional Ohio Bank

OneMain Financial Holdings: Sub-prime lender

RJW Barnabas Health: New Jersey-based healthcare system

UPS: Corporate arm of Annie E. Casey Foundation, globalized supply chain tracking, labor automation, US Impact Investing Alliance

US Venture: energy company

In my next post I will discuss another Alice, Alice.si.

Alice.si is a blockchain platform designed to support peer-to-peer “social impact” charity. It was bankrolled by the Social Tech Seed Fund , the charitable arm of Nominet Trust, which is the entity that manages internet domain registries in the UK. The Ethereum platform partnered with the UK government’s innovation hub and has a satellite office in the United States. In 2017, their US base was in Philadelphia as noted in this petition to the FCC, but their website seems to indicate it has since relocated to Burlingame, CA.

Alice.si

Interactive map of Alice.si here.

The services Alice.si proposes are eerily similar to those floated in a 2018 Libertarian white paper crafted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation: “Blockchain & Government: Using An Emerging Technology To Reduce Government’s Interference In Your Life.” In it automated systems track the supposed impact of private donations to charitable programs or individuals in need of assistance. The infographics below give you a sense of how they envision it operating. Imagine such a system overlaid with specific sets of values written into computer code and automated. That technology exists in a basic form. Fortunately, it is just not yet scaleable or socially acceptable.

Libertarian blockchain welfare 1

Libertarian welfare blockchain 2

When We’re The Packages: UPS, Annie E. Casey Foundation & Impact Investing

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the United Way, and the Aspen Institute are in the process of rolling out a “two-generation,” coordinated program of data exploitation designed to enmesh poor families in ongoing systems of digital monitoring. In order to secure their most basic needs for survival, families in need will be expected to demonstrate compliance with boot-strap, neoliberal interventions grounded in behavioral economics.

Not only will intrusive personal information be fed into cloud-based dashboard systems by social service providers (educators, healthcare providers, therapists, social workers), increasingly wearable technology and Internet of Things enabled devices will be deployed to extract data in real time. Such “solutions” place the burden on individuals to “fix” themselves within systems that have, in fact, been designed to oppress them. As the poor attempt to navigate rigged, “pay for success” social “welfare” interventions, their digital exhaust will be harnessed and used to fuel hedge fund speculation. Predatory investors are now aggregating portfolios of “evidence-based” “solutions” through vehicles like the Green Light Fund (more here).

Hustle Score

It is a brutal enterprise suited to our current moment, one in which the purchasing power of the masses is no longer sufficient to maintain global capital flows and innovative systems of finance linked to digital technologies  are on the rise. The “two-generation” strategy being advanced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in coordination with the United Way and the Aspen Institute will vastly increase the amount of data collected, imposing family-level surveillance via “soft” (social welfare agencies) and “hard” (law enforcement) systems of policing. As befitting our nation’s legacy of genocide and enslavement, Black and Brown communities are on the front lines of this newest manifestation of racial capitalism.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose board is dominated by UPS executives, is the philanthropy that jump-started the field of social impact investing (aka poverty-mining). Jim Casey and his siblings created the foundation in 1948. Casey grew a Seattle-based courier business into United Parcel Service, a company that has come to dominate global supply chain management. The Casey family has been involved in myriad private welfare programs over the decades, targeting foster care, “opportunity youth,” and low-income families.

Annie E Casey Foundation Map LittleSis

Annie E. Casey Foundation board members interactive map here.

The foundation conceptualized the Mission Investors Exchange in 2003 and refined it in partnership with other global philanthropies including the Ford Foundation. The organization was incubated within Philanthropy Northwest, its fiscal sponsor, from 2008 to 2015 when it became an independent entity. Mission Investors Exchange now boasts over 200 members, including twenty-six of the nation’s largest philanthropies, plus asset managers, private wealth funds, community development funds, consultants, and legal counsel. There are many wealthy, powerful interests who anticipate making a lot of money off technocratic poverty management.

Social impact investing runs on data, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation has a lot of it. The foundation funded the creation of a data center to track the well-being of children starting in 1990. Each subsequent year they have published updated “Kids Count” datasets, which I anticipate will be leveraged in the development of baselines to advance pre-k “pay for success” investment schemes.

Kids Count Data Center Annie E. Casey

The foundation moved from Seattle to Greenwich, CT in the 1970s and has been headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland since 1994. The location is notable. Baltimore is also home to Catholic Relief Services, Johns Hopkins School Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Yet Analytics. All have extensive ties to human capital investment, data analytics, and performance metrics through global aid channels and domestic social service delivery. The US surveillance community also maintains a large footprint in the corridor between Washington, DC and Baltimore.

In 2012, the year the first social impact bond was executed in the US, Johns Hopkins University hosted the annual conference of Stewards of Change. Stewards of Change is the main promoter of the interoperable data systems that will undergird the burgeoning human capital investment sector. Their 2012 conference had a systems engineering focus and featured talks from experts affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, a human-computer research hub that maintains contracts with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Among these is the “Ground Truth” project that uses simulations and social media analyses to make predictions about future social movement activity. Pictured below from the conference trailer video is Charles Pickar, former defense contractor and principal staff of the Applied Physics Lab.

Stewards of Change at Johns Hopkins

The Annie E. Casey Foundation maintains close ties with Knowledgeworks, promoter of learning ecosystems, and Strive Together, its “collective impact” human capital management spin-off (more here). Lisa Hamilton, CEO of the foundation, sits on the board of Strive. Hamilton led the foundation’s Kids Count program for many years and prior to that managed public relations for UPS. Jeff Edmonson, former manager of Strive who now works for Ballmer Group (Steve Ballmer/Microsoft), was trained by the foundation in data-driven results for children and families. The Casey foundation made significant financial contributions to both Strive and Knowledgeworks over the years. The foundation was also an investor in True North, one of the first capital aggregation funds launched in 2012 with support from the federally-backed Social Innovation Fund.

Strive Annie E Casey

Interactive map here.

Those setting up social impact markets have a morally bankrupt understanding of the poor. Somehow the systems engineers carrying out the bidding of global finance disconnect from their humanity and are able to reduce the poor to data commodities. The poor are thus consigned to attempt to live lives engineered for “measurable” “success,” at least according to the terms of the outcomes-based contracts through which they are processed.

SIPPRA PFS ConnecticutSource here.

The “impact” exerted on their lives is not intended to materially benefit them, but rather serves to further concentrate global capital into the hands of the elite. The poor will be digitally monitored and predictively profiled so that any symptoms of unrest can be neutralized pre-emptively. The poor must exist for the the social impact game to function, but minimal investment will be made in them-only the barest essentials required to keep the enterprise running smoothly. In Baltimore we see how “philanthropic,” higher education, and state interests have converged to carry out the bidding of transnational capital in a dawning era of mass labor automation.

UPS itself is an innovator in labor automation and sensor-based tracking. According to a May 2018 article “UPS Makes Brown The Color of the Internet of Things,” the company intends incorporate “smart” IoT sensors and data analytics to “optimize” every aspect of its  business operations for “smart” city redesign. As with Amazon warehouse workers, employees of UPS are increasingly subject to digital surveillance and monitoring on the job. The Teamsters ratified a new contract with UPS in the fall of 2018, even though a majority of the union’s members voted against it.

Workers have a growing sense of unease about lean production, precarious labor, and ubiquitous digital surveillance. Their worries are well founded as evidenced by a recent contract IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) signed with Lockheed Martin, Notre Dame University and the University of Southern California to develop persistent, passive monitoring systems that can be used to an predict worker performance. The project is called MOSAIC (Multimodel Objective Sensing to Assess Individuals with Context).

IARPA MOSAIC

For now, enough of the US population is able to purchase items online and have them delivered, often by UPS. The system continues to limp along. Eventually that will change. There won’t be enough people with credit to buy enough things to keep the machine of global capital running. Once that happens, the sophisticated supply chain tracking systems developed by UPS will no longer be used on Amazon packages. At that point, the masses become “packages” tracked for “impact” whether they wish it or not.

The global elite are investing in technological systems and legislative measures they hope will allow them to maintain control during times of economic and civil unrest. They are watching the Yellow Vests. That’s what MOSAIC is about. That’s what “Ground Truth” is about. That is why we’re seeing increased digital surveillance and militarized policing in our communities-“smart” cities. It will be a challenge to maintain control of the masses once they realize they’re the raw material for social impact investing processing. The elite are getting ready. Meanwhile, the masses remain oblivious. They are managing day-to-day crises with little comprehension of what is on the way.