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University’s Beeck Center Helps White House Raise Funds for Clean Energy

July 7, 2015 – Georgetown’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation recently helped the White House and Department of Energy (DOE) raise $4 billion that will be invested directly into clean energy solutions and companies.

The Beeck Center responded to President Obama’s call to action to expand private sector investment in solutions for climate change and worked with the White House and other organizations to provide thought leadership on investments designed to combat the problem.

Sonal Shah, executive director of the Beeck Center, says it’s important to deploy private dollars to combat climate change as researchers and entrepreneurs across the United States work to develop new breakthroughs to transform how we generate, store and consume energy.

“It’s key to recognize the critical role of private capital in scaling new business models, she says, “especially as we look for ways to invest in innovation to reduce carbon pollution while growing the economy and creating entirely new U.S. industries.”

Vice President Joe Biden announced the landmark $4 billion in commitments on June 16 at the White House’s Clean Energy Investment Summit, where Shah moderated a panel discussion on the role of philanthropic investments in new technologies and business models.

Biden introduced a series of executive actions to encourage private-sector investments in clean energy innovation, including:

  • The launch of a new Clean Energy Impact Investment Center and Impact Unit at the (DOE) to make information about energy and climate programs more accessible. The center also will work to make the information more understandable to the public ­and provide fund-matching programs to the investment community
  • Facilitating investments of charitable foundations in clean energy technologies, through new Treasury Department guidance on impact investing
  • Improving financing options from the U.S. Small Business Administration for private investment projects seeking long-term capital, including early-stage investment in capital-intensive clean energy technologies

“The summit’s policy announcements demonstrate a real commitment to helping new businesses more effectively access and use capital to scale new technology solutions,” Shah says.

Through a gift made by Alberto and Olga María Beeck, Georgetown established the center last year to inspire and prepare students, faculty and global leaders with the necessary skills to generate and innovate solution-based social change locally and internationally.

Before becoming the founding director of the Beeck Center, Shah served as founding director of the White House’s Office on Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and the center’s deputy director, Marta Urquilla, served as a senior advisor under the Obama Administration.

Shah calls the private sector an important solutions partner.

“The policy changes announced at the summit mark significant progress toward a future in which the public and private sectors work seamlessly together to solve our nation’s greatest social and environmental challenges,” she explains. “We are excited to support these announcements and for the opportunity to help lead this movement.”