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Stand Together

Brian Hooks<br>chairman and CEO Stand Together

by Brian Hooks
chairman and CEO Stand Together

Helping neighbors beat poverty and addiction

For years Scott Strode struggled with drugs and alcohol. But then he discovered that physical fitness could help him overcome his addiction. In 2006, he launched The Phoenix to help others do the same.

The Phoenix takes an innovative approach with a CrossFit-style training program that helps people recovering from addiction stay sober through both fitness and a supportive community. Its results have been impressive. Eight out of 10 active members have remained sober for six months — a success rate more than twice the best clinics in America. When CNN aired a story about Scott’s accomplishments as part of its “Heroes” series, more virtuous cycles were created.

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Learn more about The Phoenix founder, Scott Strode.

Dana Smith watched that CNN special while sitting in a jail cell, feeling hopeless about her future. But after learning about The Phoenix, Dana realized there were others who not only shared her struggle with addiction but who had found a realistic path to rebuild their lives. She dedicated herself to becoming a model inmate and after her release moved to Colorado to join The Phoenix. Today, she has not only stayed sober, she has found her calling as regional director for The Phoenix’s flagship operation in Denver.

Now, in partnership with the Stand Together community, The Phoenix is scaling its efforts. It has expanded from seven to 45 locations, helping more than 10,000 people annually. Through new partnerships and promotions — like the one it announced with the Boston Red Sox this spring — it plans to reach hundreds of thousands more with its message of hope for those who have fallen behind.

  • Man lifting weights

    People beat addiction through fitness and community with The Phoenix.

  • Scott Strode pitch at Fenway Park

    Scott Strode, founder of The Phoenix, throws out the opening pitch at Fenway Park.


Ensure an excellent education for every person

The most common answers to problems in our education system are to double down on the current approach: an excessive focus on standardized tests and a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Transforming education requires flipping that approach on its head: personalizing education to focus on how to empower all kids to unlock their unique potential.

Youth Entrepreneurs, a program Koch Industries has supported for decades, is a great example. It approaches learning as an experience, with the teachers serving as guides that help students identify their skills and then learn to apply them in the real world. What if we could accelerate the growth of many more innovative programs like YE?

Matt Candler founded an organization called 4.0 to do just that. 4.0 invests in early-stage social entrepreneurs focused on education in a person’s formative years. It also helps them network with one another so they can continuously learn and evolve.

In its first eight years, 4.0 has helped launch 228 educational programs serving students in all types of schools. For example:

unCommon Construction teaches students practical skills by building homes as part of an interdisciplinary high school experience.

Electric Girls focuses on helping girls get hands-on experience with engineering projects.

  • Students with Electric Girls learn about engineering.

    Students with Electric Girls learn about engineering.

  •  Students with unCommon Construction learn technical skills.

    Students with unCommon Construction learn technical skills.


Now Stand Together is helping 4.0 dramatically scale its efforts. In a groundbreaking new partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, the Stand Together community is investing $10 million to fund 500 more social entrepreneurs in education over the next few years.

As educators have greater opportunities to experiment, innovate and create a diversity of options for students, they drive virtuous cycles — continually discovering new and better ways to create educational opportunities. In doing so, they transform education from the bottom up, to empower students to realize their potential. 

Building a strong economy that works for all

Helping every person rise is not just about helping those who have fallen on hard times. It’s also about unleashing the growth and innovations that can transform our quality of life for the better.

Sal Churi knows firsthand that there are many economic barriers holding people back from a brighter future. With support from Stand Together partners, he founded Trust Ventures — a venture capital fund that invests in transformative technology companies in highly regulated industries.

Oklo is a pioneer in advanced nuclear technology. Its model is to create safe, scalable, portable energy that could dramatically reduce costs and expand access. In remote areas of the country,
it could lower energy costs by 80%.

Visibly is a telemedicine start-up connecting patients with doctors over the internet to expand access to affordable eye care. This is an especially big deal for people in the 25% of American counties without an eye doctor in their area.

ICON is building houses — that’s right, houses — with 3D printers. Think about the benefits when you can build the core structure of a home for a fraction of the usual cost.

America’s first 3D-printed house in Austin, Texas, made with ICON’s innovative technology.

America’s first 3D-printed house in Austin, Texas, made with ICON’s innovative technology.

The biggest challenge facing these companies is not how to make their technology work, but whether they’ll be allowed to operate at all. That’s because each of these examples faces policy barriers. ICON is a typical example. In most major cities, zoning and permitting regulations have been in place for decades — long before anyone ever imagined a 3D printer. Those rules were never designed to account for something as transformative as ICON.

That’s why, in addition to investing in startups, Trust Ventures uses its legal and policy expertise to help them navigate and remove needless barriers. This doesn’t just benefit Trust Ventures — it helps level the playing field for many more principled entrepreneurs, transforming the role business can play in solving problems in society by opening up innovation and opportunity.

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