Casey, Aspen, United Way & The Two-Generation Con

In a previous post, When We’re The Packages, I discussed the role the Annie E. Casey Foundation (UPS $) played in developing the field of human capital impact investing. One infrastructure element developed and promoted by the foundation is data collection across multiple-generations. Their two-generation approach expands opportunities to profit from impoverished families, because the impact of “evidence-based solutions” can be calculated for both parent AND child.

With Pay For Success: More Data = More “Impact” = More ROI (Return On Investment)

The Aspen Institute’s Ascend 2Gen Initiative ran with the Casey Foundation’s “two generation” concept, turning it into a tool kit that has since been taken up by the National Conference of State Legislators. Ascend is one of many initiatives operating under the umbrella of the Aspen Institute, which is pursuing efforts in the areas of social impact “philanthropy,” community “solutions,” up-skilling and the “future of work,” social emotional learning in children, and a NextGen Network program exploring “ethical” artificial intelligence, underwritten by none other than Microsoft. Take a minute to scroll through the network members; there are SO many.

Aspen Next Gen Network

ALICE Ascend

Interactive version of map above here.

Few realize there is currently a push to use machine learning on data collected through social welfare systems, though they’ve been discussing it for at least a decade. In 2010, Harvard hosted a symposium, co-sponsored with Accenture (co-creator with Microsoft the ID2020 digital identity system), on what the next generation of human services would look like – essentially, what the “business model” was going to be. The conditions laid out presumed continued austerity, increased demand and severity of need, and rising costs. There was considerable discussion about the use of technology and how to apply it to the human services’ “value curve.”

Harvard Human Services

Source here.

Page twenty-seven of the report (above) states that moving forward, predictive analytics “will become a core competency of human services systems.” It then goes on to describe the use of sensor technology in systems of policing and family profiling that were underway in New York and Illinois at that time. There was no discussion regarding the ethics of profiling the poor, nor the certainty that racism would become embedded in these systems, further exacerbating oppressive aspects of whiteness. Those trapped within automated social service systems will have even less opportunity to contest their situation once algorithmic authorities have decamped to the cloud, well beyond human reach.

What Works Centre Machine Learning AI

This February, the What Works Centre, based in the UK, put out a call for partners interested in developing predictive analytics for child protective services. As people are increasingly tethered to devices that force compliance, and public services are cut to the bone or outsourced, it isn’t a stretch to imagine the “what works” approach will be weaponized to keep poor parents and children in their place while enriching elite investors in “evidence-based” programs. Meanwhile, the tech and telecommunications sectors benefit, as the ALICEs (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed people) furiously feed data into cloud-based systems in an attempt to survive and keep their families together.

2Gen Aspen Institute CAP Tulsa

Community Action Project of Tulsa (CAP Tulsa) is one example of an “anti-poverty” program that advances the two-generation approach. It combines workforce training in healthcare, a program called CareerAdvance, for parents with “evidence-based” Head Start programs for their children. P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, founding director of the Two-Generation Research Initiative at Northwestern University, and her colleagues began research into this effort in 2008 and published an impact analysis for CAP Tulsa in February of 2019.

CAP Tulsa

Interactive map of CAP Tulsa here.

This video about the program specifically mentions the Heckman equation and the 7-13% return on investment in early childhood interventions at timestamp 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Let me make this perfectly clear: while such programs are portrayed as benevolent, they have been developed first and foremost to channel global investment capital so as to generate guaranteed rates of return for financiers at the expense of the masses. As such, these “evidence-based” interventions will NEVER eliminate poverty, because its continued existence is a precondition for the proper functioning of social impact profit-taking enterprise.

2Gen Tulsa Heckman

CAP Tulsa Heckman 2Gen 2

2Gen Tulsa Heckman 3

CAP Tulsa Heckman 2Gen 5

CAP Tulsa Heckman 2Gen 6

One of the key funders of CAP Tulsa is the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser made his fortune in petroleum and held prominent positions with the Bank of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Community Foundation. His family foundation has $50 million invested in Stanley Druckenmiller’s Blue Meridian Partners and previously had assets in the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s True North Fund (more here on Druckenmiller). Interactive map of Blue Meridian Partners can be accessed here.

Blue Meridian

Kaiser has been in on the ground floor with early childhood impact investing from the beginning, maintaining close ties to Robert Dugger, Sara Watson, and the Partnership for America’s Economic Success (later ReadyNation) as they laid the rails for human capital speculation, starting with home visit and pre-k data and extending into workforce development / up-skilling via digital credential acquisition.

He’s invested in Educare initiatives in Santa Clara County, CA and Tulsa, OK, as well as in the Alliance for Early Success and the First Five Years Fund. Educare is part of the University of Chicago and Diana Rauner’s Ounce of Prevention Fund’s charter-affiliated Birth to College continuum that promotes data collection through intrusive systems like Teaching Strategies Gold (TS Gold).

Partnership for America's Success Kaiser

I want to mention two other co-authors on the CAP Tulsa impact analysis. In addition to P. Linsday Chase-Lansdale, there was also Christopher King, a research scientist and economist at UT Austin who for many years directed the Ray Marshall Institute for Human Resources where extensive research into welfare “reform” was conducted.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, an NYU professor of globalization and education who served as an advisor on Head Start in the Clinton and Obama administrations, was also on the CAP Tulsa impact assessment team. Yoshikawa, notably, led the framing out of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for early childhood and served on the board of George Soros’s (INET) Open Society Foundation.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa Head Start

The United Way is pursuing its own Two-Generation “collective impact” agenda in coordination with the Strive Network, which I wrote about here. Strive has ties to Microsoft through Connie and Steve Ballmer, Ballmer Group, and Blue Meridian. Many of their investments are in outcomes-based, social service software programs, including data dashboard systems like Social Solutions’ “Efforts to Outcomes” shown below. Even in communities without a Strive presence, social impact infrastructure is being rapidly deployed to control and manage poor families.

PhillyBoost ETO

Other systems like ClientTrack (below) triage those needing services, using data and predictive analytics to determine how likely a “Housing First” intervention is to yield a measurable “impact.” This strategy is outlined in a 2018 Harvard study, “The Massachusetts PFS Story: Social Innovation Financing As A Catalyst for Change.” It is interesting to note that Eccovia Solutions, the parent company of ClientTrack, describes itself as offering whole-person tracking ranging from prisoner re-entry to refugee resettlement to behavioral health and chronic illness management; all of which, not coincidentally, are ripe for pay for success contracting. The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing signed a contract to use ClientTrack for its Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) in 2016. The company is based in Salt Lake City, home of one of the nation’s first social impact bonds and stomping grounds for leading players in human capital impact investing market including Jim Sorenson, who finances a social impact research center at the University of Utah business school, and Goldman Sachs.

Clienttrack Pay for Success

Source, page 374.

An example of a two-generation data-collection program managed through the United Way is Great Families 2020 which operates in Marion County, IN. This county is home to Indianapolis, a hotbed of education privatization and home to the Lumina Foundation (workforce readiness and digital credentials), the Eli Lilly Endowment (major US philanthropy with ties to the pharmaceutical industry that makes grants to faith-based institutions), and EdChoice (Milton Friedman’s school choice think tank). Indiana is taking steps toward competency-based education, pre-k for all, and pay for success finance. The county is also home to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which houses a new state data-hub managed through the Polis Center.

Great Families 2020

Interactive map of Great Families 2020 here.

The Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service provided seed funding to launch the United Way of Central Indiana’s data integration plan, one that will create a conducive environment for future Pay for Success deals. That effort is being coordinated with the Management Performance Hub / Indiana Data Partnership sponsored by the Eli Lilly Endowment, which also backed Marc Tucker’s (Dear Hillary Letter) National Center for Education and the Economy; the Collective Impact Forum, an accelerator for impact investing; and “Partnership for Early Learners,” to the tune of $20 million in 2014 which was meant to establish statewide standards around pre-k and early childhood education workforce quality indicators.

United Way Central Indiana Great Families 2020 Two Generation

Source here.

Thus, in the name of “transparency,” “improved” outcomes, and “leveraged data,” sophisticated predictive models will be run across data from Indiana’s health, education, security, economic, and transportation sectors. LISC, the Ford Foundation’s community redevelopment program, is also in on the game. It seems the intent is to “redevelop” communities that have been systematically undermined through redlining, environmental racism, over-policing, and economic disinvestment and turn them into digitally engineered laboratories where those who are not pushed out become human game pieces, pressured to navigate a techno-panopticon of social welfare mandates. Every aspect of a person’s life and social relations will be optimized for social control, efficiency and profit for social impact investors.

Indiana Data Partnership

Interactive map of Indiana Data Partnership here.

A “data-driven” “two-generation” approach to maternal and child care may seem sensible until you realize its backers only intend to pursue interventions deemed “measurable,” “scalable,” and value-oriented. Large segments of the population, mostly Black and Brown people, will be deemed disposable by financiers, of use only insofar as they yield actionable data for the human capital “game.” The “solutions” proffered will be tech-centric, since digital platforms facilitate deal evaluation.

Picture what’s happened with data-driven, online education and apply those terrible outcomes to healthcare, counseling, workforce training, and supportive housing. It will expand the perpetual underclass and create another class of de-professionalized facilitators (educators, health care providers, therapists, and social workers) who are pressured to carry out toxic “evidence-based” ministrations, even when doing so goes against everything they know is right and just. This two-generation strategy will be soul-killing for two ALICE generations and the workers charged with carrying out these schemes against them.


Moneyball For Government: Poverty Mining in Philadelphia

We finally got a new computer with enough memory for me to be able to edit the talk I gave at Wooden Shoe Books on May 9, 2019. It’s two hours long and covers quite a bit of ground. We had a couple dozen folks attend in person and many wanted to stay after and continue talking; so I count that a win.

Below is the talk. Click here for the slide share if you want to look at it separately.

For context, the week before this event hundreds of impact investors arrived in Philadelphia to discuss how to best capitalize on (read profit from) our city’s deep poverty. A couple of us affiliated with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) staged an informational picket outside the Duane Morris Building where the “Total Impact 2019 Conference” was held. We leafleted, let passersby know what was happening inside, and even engaged a number of speakers. They are not willing to see horrific techno-dystopic machine they are building for what it truly is. Below is a video from that action.

A sidewalk display featuring many of the speakers was made with help from comrades with #OccupyPHA (PHA = Philadelphia Housing Authority). PHA is one of the leading gentrifiers in the city, particularly North Philadelphia, where they’ve built a new $45 million headquarters. The week after the event a small civil protest was staged in the street outside the headquarters, and a front end loader was sent to run us over.

The stakes are high, people. The stakes are very high.

#OccupyPHA is still out there as of mid July; 90+ days.

Wooden Shoe Flyer

Hewlett Packard And The Pitfalls Of “Deeper Learning” In An Internet Of Things World

It was time to say good-bye to the chinstrap penguin. The paper mache model had kept watch over a corner of my sewing room for years, but with our child moving on to college and evidence of flour-beetles impossible to ignore, its time had come. It was an endearing second-grade project, now a decade old. It was the kind of project many of us remember; you know, the ones that start out scrambling around the back of a closet in search of a shoebox? Today, hands-on, creative projects have largely been cast aside in favor of online learning modules that tout their test score-boosting efficacy. There were many thoughts running through my head as I placed the bug-eaten model into the trash that day.

A day or so later, I happened to read a CommonWealth article in which Jeff Riley, education commissioner of Massachusetts, laid out a “radical center” vision for public education outlined in the report “Our Way Forward: For Massachusetts K12 Public Education.” The media outlet, a mouthpiece for privatization interests, framed the piece to appeal to teachers and parents beleaguered by decades of harmful ed-reform policies. There was talk of an unhealthy fixation on test scores, the need for a rich curriculum, and incentivizing teachers to create “innovative” lessons. I sensed a trap, and that trap was “deeper learning” and “project-based learning.”

In the article Riley also spoke of expanding assessments beyond English and math and of new “performance tasks.” His proposal touted adoption of “smart” technology, flexible career pathways, and perhaps most troubling, tracking and measuring “skills and dispositions” for future employers. The need for increased public funding was downplayed, though the possibility of outside grants was raised. No surprise there. The commissioner tipped his hand in the closing paragraph, though, when he shared his desire for education in Massachusetts to be more like Netflix than Blockbuster.

Riley’s proposal called for four things: deeper learning, evidence-based practice, holistic supports (wrap around services), and partnerships. Many will recognize items two through four as infrastructure for speculative investment in human capital, but the first item, deeper learning, requires elaboration.

Alliance for Excellent Education Deeper Learning Network Map

If you didn’t know better, you might be inclined to believe adoption of “deeper learning” strategies would be a good thing. It sounds like it might include fun projects and social interaction and experiential learning. But don’t be fooled, we’re not circling back to the days of paper mache penguins. Deeper learning isn’t just a throw away phrase, it is a specific educational tactic rolled out by Hewlett Packard a decade ago and intended advance corporate interests while profiling students.

In a 2016 blog post “Building The Deeper Learning Field Grant By Grant,” Phil Gonring of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation details how the company deployed hundreds of strategic grants starting in 2010 to remake education so that it could be digitally engineered and tied to human capital impact investing. Key partners included Stanford University, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Alliance for Excellent Education (philanthropic sibling to the Schott Foundation), charter franchises like EL and Envision Education and “innovative” project-based innovative learning programs like High Tech High and Big Picture Learning.

HP Deeper Learning Grant Strategy

Riley’s proposal for Massachusetts schools cited Sarah Fine’s work on deeper learning. Fine, a Harvard-educated researcher, is employed by the High Tech High Graduate School of Education in San Diego. High Tech High is among the high-profile “innovative” project-based learning schools promoted by venture capitalists like Ted Dintersmith. The graduate school hosts an HP-funded “deeper learning hub.” The graduate program is embedded in the high school, which was funded with a $9.3 million start-up grant from the Gates Foundation in 2000. CA. San Diego is a smart city and also a Collective Shift (MacArthur Foundation) funded City of LRNG (anytime / anywhere learning) that is piloting career pathways and digital badges.

Hewlett Packard has been involved in “evidence-based” human capital investing via the True North Fund. The company was also a member of Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), led by Ken Kay, who you may remember teamed up with Dintersmith and Knowlegeworks on the North Dakota state education takeover. This partnership promoted skills-based education aligned to corporate interests.

HP also funds School Retool, a professional development effort advocating tech “hacks” and “deeper learning” for school leaders in such far flung locations as Dallas, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Oregon, Idaho, and New Hampshire. In the early to mid 1990s Kay led the Computer Systems Policy Project, an organization that lobbied on behalf of the most powerful tech interests in the country. He now manages EdLeader21, which is sponsored by Battelle (defense contractor) for Kids. Evidently the next generation’s “deeper learning” skills are being aligned with the interests of a high-tech war machine.

HP Deeper Learning

Interactive version of above map here.

Ken Kay

EdLeader21 Battelle


At the same time, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation pursued a parallel strategy to remake the non-profit and philanthropic sectors for impact investing. See my previous piece here.

HP Reengineering Philanthropy

Interactive version of map above here.

Hewlett Packard is an expert in human capital profiling. In 2013 they developed a “flight risk” scoring algorithm to assess the likelihood valuable employees would leave their company (and conversely who was not worth retaining). They are developing HR gamification for behavior change and teamed up with Yet Analytics to create, EIDCC and artificial intelligence “brain” they say can calculate the rate of return on investments in digital education and other social expenditures.

HP Human Capital Management

Interactive version of map above here.


Source for above.

Gamification HP Chart

Source here.

Data is the new oil, and classrooms are key points of extraction. Social-emotional data is prized, because it can be manipulated for impact investing and human capital management purposes. Listen to a short clip from a Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Group presentation on social-emotional learning by an executive from Otus in which he describes future possibilities for wearable tech data capture.

We know there is intense interest in capturing data on a person’s “Big Five” “OCEAN” traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (see featured image). Project-based learning is a great way to obtain this data, especially with group projects where team interactions can be tracked with increasingly sophisticated sensors. Not surprisingly HP’s spin off, HP Enterprise, is doing work in IoT, Blockchain, and sensor based technologies, all of which can be used to aggregate data related to people’s interactions with augmented reality, “smart” environments.


Interactive of map above here.

Open Education Resources (OER) are a part of education’s augmented reality world. Value can be created if one can track how person interacts with educational materials, whether text, video, game, or simulation. Meta-data can be used to profile users and content. Demonstrations of competency via OER have been linked to issuance of digital badges for informal learning. Interactions happen via xAPI and SCORM protocols, which were developed by Rustici Software for the Defense Department’s Advanced Distributed Learning program. Considerable research into digital training and intelligent tutoring systems has been undertaken in training US military personnel. The goal of Executive Order 13111, signed by Bill Clinton in 2000, was to leverage developments in defense training and use them to engineer the learning of civilians, too.

HP Education

Interactive version of map above here.

ADL : IoT Education

Interactive version of map above here.

OERs are being pitched as digital text books in higher education, a seemingly useful solution to the problem of cost-prohibitive print books, but the plan is for material to be unbundled and served up by algorithms via personalized, curated playlists. That awful Knewton Datapalooza video? Yup, those learning pathways are comprised of OER. In K12 education OER are central to the delivery of blended learning activities and provide curriculum for cyber schools.

Knewton OER

Knewtown OER 2

Education is being aligned to workforce demands, as stable employment opportunities shrink. Profiling is being used from early ages to put children on ridiculous career pathways to jobs that may not exist ten years from now. These pathway alignments will reinforce existing power imbalances and structural racism. Far from being a chance to experiment with other ways of learning, “deeper learning” projects will be used to prop-up predatory work-based initiatives that legitimize child labor while at the same time dictating whose capital merits investment and who is disposable. While the branding for “deeper learning” makes it sound progressive, in execution it’s actually extremely repressive.

We’ve crossed over into the realm surveillance education where screens, wearable tech, QR codes, beacons, and Internet of Things sensors are starting to give classrooms the feel of Winston’s apartment from 1984. The era of the non-digital, disconnected, wheat paste penguin seems to have passed. Now we are seeing things like the image below, an IoT enabled puppet designed to teach science to elementary school students. It includes embedded sensors to track the child’s physical location in the room.

IoT Bee

Supposedly these puppets gather data on how effectively instruction is delivered on how bees pollinate flowers. This technology was developed with National Science Foundation funding at the Center for Learning Research and Technology at Indiana University Bloomington whose projects include: iSTEP (Science Through Technology Enhanced Play) and PLAE (Promoting Learning Through Annotation of Embodiment). Researchers are using software called OpenPTrack, developed with the UCLA’s REMAP, Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance, that tracks social interactions in augmented reality settings.

We need to understand that creativity and play and hands-on learning and projects are being harnessed to predatory systems of data extraction that will push children’s lives onto digital platforms. The puppets and games featured in these videos (viewable here) are intended to normalize a violent act of digitizing the lives of children without their consent.

Step Bees My sense is that when people hear the term “deeper learning,” they presume it means learners will have time and support to delve into subject areas; that they will be able to learn deeply about a given topic. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I believe what “deeper learning” is actually about is using digital platforms and IoT to better analyze LEARNERs as human capital. It is more about them learning US and categorizing US than it is about empowering students to learn about the world.

It is about risk scoring people as human capital.

It is for financial speculation and social control.

I’m going to miss that penguin.

I’m ready to fight for the return of “shoebox” projects.

I’m ready to fight IoT in classrooms.

#EducationForLiberation #SmashTheTelescreens