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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 accelerating performance for social impact.
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.
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 Boston, Massachusetts headquarters.
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.
Honors and awards
Andrew Wolk received the first Rising Star Award from Boston University’s School of Management. For the third year, he served on the 2007 Advisory Board of the Social Capitalist Awards, sponsored by Fast Company magazine and The Monitor Group.
- Root Cause
- Andrew Wolk, "Advancing Social Entrepreneurship: Recommendations for Policy Makers and Government Agencies," (Aspen Institute and Root Cause, April 2008) (PDF)
- Andrew Wolk and Kelly Kreitz, "Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact: A Root Cause How-to Guide," (Root Cause, March 2008)
- Andrew Wolk, "Social Entrepreneurship and Government: A New Breed of Entrepreneurs Developing Solutions to Social Problems" (Chapter from The Small Business Economy: A Report to the President, December 2007)
- Boston Globe, 'Streetwise MBA' Program Helps Small Business Owners Advance, August 21, 2006
- Boston Globe interview with Andrew Wolk, May 11, 2008
- Chronicle of Philanthropy, Spreading Innovative Solutions to Society's Problems, May 3, 2008
- The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) "Our Views: Pioneering Social Change." Editorial quoting "nationally known social entrepreneurship expert Andrew Wolk."
- Boston Business Journal, September 5, 2003. Article quoting Wolk as an expert on social innovation.
- Fast Company Magazine profile of Andrew Wolk
- MIT Entrepreneurship Center, Profile of Faculty Member Andrew Wolk
- Boston College, Carroll School of Management, Profile of Faculty Member Andrew Wolk