Communities / Entrepreneurs / Roundups

DC ranks 12th in best cities for social entrepreneurs via new Halcyon report

The District dropped from its previous ranking of #3. Here's a breakdown of why.

Osage Venture Partners is looking to Washington, D.C. for deals. (Photo by Flickr user @ricricciardi, used under a Creative Commons license)

In a new report released by Halcyon that ranks the best U.S. cities for social entrepreneurs, D.C. came in at #12.

In the third volume of the “A Step Forward: Social Enterprise Ecosystems in the U.S.” report, D.C.-based Halcyon ranked 21 top cities in the U.S. based on funding, human capital, quality of life and support systems for social entrepreneurs. The report was released Wednesday at SOCAP 2019, a conference hosted by Social Capital Markets in San Francisco to increase the flow of capital for social good.

Halcyon CIO Ryan Ross, an author of the report, said the organization started gathering data by surveying 624 social entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders in 41 cities. Halcyon then combines this data with publicly available information about social entrepreneurs from government, nonprofit and corporate sectors to provide insights about the social impact ecosystem across the U.S. The report also includes details about how this sector has changed over the years.

Read the full report

Here’s a ranking of the top 21 cities surveyed for their social entrepreneurship ecosystems:

  1. Boston
  2. San Francisco
  3. Seattle
  4. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  5. Denver
  6. Austin
  7. Atlanta
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. Baltimore
  10. San Diego
  11. Chicago
  12. Washington, D.C.
  13. Raleigh
  14. New York
  15. Los Angeles
  16. Miami
  17. Dallas
  18. New Orleans
  19. Philadelphia
  20. Detroit
  21. Phoenix

The District dropped dramatically from its previous ranking in the second volume of the report, which had it ranked at #3 overall. In this latest volume of the report, D.C. did rank high in the human capital category specifically, coming in at #2.

“Diverse teams bring diverse thought,” Shelly Bell, founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures, shared in the report. “I’m looking forward to the day when diversity turns into an investment strategy and not buzzword. Diverse teams, diverse perspectives are the foundation of innovation.”

But the District ranked low or in the middle in the quality of life, funding and support system categories.

“Increasing the accessibility of capital, both private and philanthropic, to social entrepreneurs will be critical to ensuring the D.C. impact ecosystem can thrive,” Ross told “The data also shows that this region needs to invest in making the city more affordable for founders to ensure they can make ends meet as they grow their social enterprise. We hope leaders in the ecosystem will continue to support solutions to ensure the cost of living in D.C. doesn’t prevent talented individuals from starting a venture.”

Nationally, the report found that social entrepreneurs over 35 years old are still raising more capital than those under 35. But social entrepreneurs under 25 doubled the average amount of capital raised from 2017 to 2019. The report also found that organizations led by a white executive raised nearly three times the amount of capital compared to organizations led by Black or Latinx executives.

Companies: Halcyon

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