Andrew Wolk (born June 28, 1964 in New York, New York) is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Root Cause, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that focuses on advancing innovation for social impact.
Now known as a pioneering teacher of social entrepreneurship and a social innovator, Andrew Wolk began his career as a private-sector entrepreneur, having built and sold a multi-restaurant delivery business in the 1990s. Wolk designed and taught one of the first courses on social entrepreneurship in the U.S. at Boston University’s School of Management in 1999. He went on to bring the course to Boston College, Tufts University, Brandeis University, and Washington University. In 2002, he began teaching social entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, where he remains a senior lecturer.
Wolk launched his first social enterprise, the Social Innovation Forum, in 2003 with several colleagues who sought to help nonprofit leaders obtain the resources needed to solve problems plaguing Greater Boston. Around the same time, he and Boston University sociology professor Daniel Monti developed another enterprise, InnerCity Entrepreneurs (ICE), to support existing businesses interested in growth in the inner city. By creating a social network for entrepreneurs and using professional business tactics, they developed a blueprint to help inner-city businesses function more efficiently and effectively.
As he focused on growing his two social enterprises, Wolk recognized a need for an incubator that would nurture and guide the development of nonprofits. He created Root Cause in 2004 to foster entrepreneurship and innovation, and to develop enduring solutions to social and economic problems. Using his methodology has allowed Root Cause to specialize in developing business plans for nonprofits and government agencies focusing on growth, sustainability and impact. Under Wolk’s leadership, Root Cause serves as the umbrella organization for six initiatives: Root Cause Consulting, Root Cause Knowledge Sharing, Social Impact Research, Public Innovators, the Social Innovation Forum, and InnerCity Entrepreneurs.
As part of Root Cause’s knowledge sharing initiative, Wolk has authored three publications: a Root Cause How-to Guide, entitled Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact; a chapter in the Small Business Administration’s annual report to the president of the United States, titled “Social Entrepreneurship and Government: A New Breed of Entrepreneurs Developing Solutions to Social Problems”; and a white paper copublished with the Aspen Institute, titled Advancing Social Entrepreneurship: Recommendations for Policy Makers and Government Agencies.
Wolk also helped to establish the Boston chapter of Social Venture Partners. He was the program co-chair for the 4th National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs, and he served on the board of the Social Enterprise Alliance.
He holds an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship and nonprofit management from Boston University and a B.A. from Lehigh University.
A resident of Boston, Massachusetts, Wolk is based in Root Cause’s Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters.
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