About Us

What we believe

Over the past two decades, we have worked with investors, governments, and civil society organizations to design financial solutions to advance social justice, gender equality, and socio-economic development goals. Criterion's work is fundamentally about challenging and changing power dynamics.

We seek to transform whose voices are heard, whose expertise is valued, and whose metrics define success in financial decision-making.
We work to radically expand who sees themselves as having the power to influence financial systems and to play a role in designing new interventions. Success is when the power of financial systems is widely used for social good.

Our Partners

Partner With Us

Criterion partners with investors, governments, and civil society organizations around the world to design financial solutions to advance social justice, gender equality, and economic development goals. If you are interested in working together, we invite you to get in touch with ideas for how our work might overlap.

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Our History

Since Criterion was founded in 2002, we have developed a proven methodology and theory of change around why and how it is possible to instill hope by shifting systems that are seen as intractable and complex. This theory rests on challenging power: once you get others to see power differently – particularly their own power – you unlock their confidence and ability to effect change.

Since our founding we have led innovative initiatives, from founding a venture fund to spearheading innovative research programs with international organizations, to becoming the leading think tank in using finance for social change.

Through our work we have played a significant role in building new fields, developing gender lens investing, partnering with church to transform their relationship with finance, and demonstrating new ways to shape markets to create good.

2004

Criterion founded as a consulting firm dedicated to systems change

2005

The first Convergence convened leaders from finance, women’s rights organizations, and the many expressions of the Christian church met to push the boundaries on how to use finance as a tool for social change. These convenings, where ideas and conversations converged to create energy, collaboration and direction within the emerging field of social finance, were held regularly throughout the United States until 2015.Related resource: Reflections: A Decade of Convergence

2006

Joy Anderson Co-Founded Good Capital, the first institutional expansion-stage fund using the power of markets to create a more equitable economy and a more sustainable world. The fund’s evolution had a significant influence on pipeline development and the emergent field of impact investing.

2008

Launch of the Charlie Project to explore the role of church finance, particularly within the Lutheran community, in fostering urban education and community economic development.

2009

The term “gender lens investing” is coined as Criterion helps define and develop the emerging field.
Related resource: Framework: Defining a Gender Lens

2012

Release of Cash Market Report following five years of convenings, research and analysis on the root causes of medical debt and designing an innovative approach to leverage financial systems to alleviate the burden. The report was part of Criterion’s HealthCare_Uncovered program, funded by Rockefeller Foundation.
Related resource:  Project Reflection: Reframing Healthcare

Launch of Leaders Shaping Markets to build and support a community of people changing how the systems that undergird our economic markets work. This program evolved into Shaping Market Systems as our learnings allowed for a shift to how to tangibly transform markets.
Related resource: Reflection: Leaders Shaping Market Systems – London Dialogue

Launch of Congregational Engagement Campaign, initially called 1K Churches, inspiring churches to invest in small businesses in their local economy, at Clinton Global Initiative. Criterion continues to publish resources to guide and support congregations as they explore how to use finance for social change in their communities.

Related resource: Implementation Guides: 5 Investment Pathways for Congregations

2015

State of the Field Summit convenes 40 leaders in gender lens investing.
Related resource: Report: State of the Field of Gender Lens Investing

Development of Criterion’s 5 strategies for using finance as a tool for social change. These strategies can be adapted to a wide range of actors and social issues, and form the framework of our TOOLKIT for Finance as a Strategy for Social Change and Blueprint on Using Finance as a Tool for Social Change.
Related resource: Blueprint: Women’s Funds Using Finance for Social Change

2018

We continue to research and evolve our programs to work with institutional partners and their leaders to create lasting systems change. Visit Our Work to see what we are up to now.

2020

SEPT. 9 – OCT. 1, 2020
Convergence XVII: Financing the Reduction of Gender-based Violence –
A Digital Global Gathering
Our signature convening, Convergence, will take place September 9 to October 1, 2020 online across multiple time zones. This unique gathering of catalytic change-makers will bring together leaders and pioneers from philanthropy, finance, government, and the social sector to move forward specific and tangible ideas to leverage the power of finance to address gender-based violence.  Secure your spot today.

2021

Criterion launches “Disrupting Fields: Addressing Power Dynamics in the Fields of Climate Finance and Gender Lens Investing.” In examining power dynamics in the development of two fields, climate finance and gender lens investing, the paper provides a deeper analysis of the dynamics that have shaped the development of these fields and asks whether the fields have been disruptive enough.

Criterion, together with Red Hat Impact, Pacific RISE, and other partners launch the Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle. The vehicle was intentionally designed with ongoing input from menstrual health enterprises in the region to provide affordable finance to enterprises in the Pacific, regardless of their size or incorporation status. The vehicle launched with a successful raise of $50,000 in private investment capital.

At the opening ceremony of the Generation Equality Forum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s commitment of close to CAD $180 million to advance gender equality around the world. This includes a CAD $5 million commitment to advance best practices in gender lens investing, made to a Consortium comprised of Criterion Institute, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, and GenderSmart (now 2X Global).  

UNICEF, Ford Foundation, and Criterion announce their joint commitment to engaging feminist organizations in using finance as a tool to address gender-based violence at the Generation Equality Summit

2022

At the G7 Summit in Bavaria, Germany, 2X Collaborative (now 2X Global), international development institutions, and private investors commit to more rigorous standards around gender lens investing, including adoption of the strategies laid out in Criterion’s Roadmap for Development Finance Institutions: Strategies to Address Gender-based Violence. UNICEF Executive Director joined the summit via videoconference to underscore the importance of the commitments and discuss the tools Criterion and UNICEF created in partnership to support investors in addressing gender-based violence.

Launch of the Criterion Institute Podcast with Joy Anderson.

View our Work

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Criterion’s work is about expanding what investors, governments, and civil society organizations see as possible for using finance to create transformative social change. Explore our resources based on the specific types of audiences they were intended to support.

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Covid-19 Diligence Tool UNICEF-Criterion

August 6, 2020

Criterion Institute, in partnership with UNICEF, created a guide for investors to understand the risk their investments are exposed to as a result of gender-based violence, and to incorporate that risk assessment into their existing due diligence process.

Tools
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Due Diligence Guides-1
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GBV Approaches to Investing: Values Alignment

December 13, 2023

The Values-Aligned approach is primarily for investors in public markets.

Pillars of Change
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Finance the Reduction of Gender-based Violence
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GBV Approaches to Investing: Thematic Strategies

December 13, 2023

The Thematic Strategies approach is for impact investors in private markets who aim to generate positive environmental and social impact while also generating market-rate returns.

Pillars of Change
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Finance the Reduction of Gender-based Violence
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GBV Approaches to Investing: ESG Integration

December 13, 2023

The ESG-integrated approach is for investors in public equities and fixed income who are integrating ESG considerations to help identify risks and opportunities that would impact the financial return of the investment.

Pillars of Change
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Finance the Reduction of Gender-based Violence
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GBV Approaches to Investing: Catalytic Strategies

December 13, 2023

The Catalytic Strategies approach is for investors in private markets who are willing to apply patient, flexible, risk-tolerant, and appropriately termed capital in pursuit of positive outcomes.

Pillars of Change
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Finance the Reduction of Gender-based Violence
Read More >

Gender-based Violence Due Diligence Tool

June 1, 2020

Criterion Institute, in partnership with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, created a guide for investors in the Pacific region to understand the risk their investments are exposed to as a result of gender-based violence, and to incorporate that risk assessment into their existing due diligence process.

Tools
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Due Diligence Guides-1
Read More >

Our People

Team Members

Our People

Board of Directors

Core Team

Joy Anderson Image
Joy Anderson
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Joy’s intellectual interests draw on her research for her Ph.D. in American History from New York University.
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Todd Ching
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Joy Anderson
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Phyllis Anderson

Gender-Based Violence Advisory Committee

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Joy Anderson
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Phyllis Anderson
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Todd Ching
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Joy’s intellectual interests draw on her research for her Ph.D. in American History from New York University.
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Phyllis Anderson

Power of Policy Advisory Committee

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Joy Anderson
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Joy’s intellectual interests draw on her research for her Ph.D. in American History from New York University.
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Todd Ching
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Joy Anderson
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Phyllis Anderson

Our People

Finance the reduction of gender-based violence

Our People

Invite Financial Imagination

Our People

Shift Narratives in Innovative Finance

Our People

Unleash the power of policy

Our People

Value the future of equality

Interested in getting involved with Criterion Institute?

Our work depends on an ever-expanding community of team members, advisors, donors, and other partners who help us demonstrate our theory of change and ultimately achieve our mission. Learn more about how you can become more engaged in our work.

Invitations to Engage
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Joy Anderson

Joy Anderson is a national leader in business and social change. She is the founder and president of Criterion Institute, a leading think tank focused on using finance for social change. Joy has shaped hundreds of ventures and has been instrumental in the impact investing and gender lens investing movements. She has been recognized for her leadership and was listed in Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business. Joy co-founded Good Capital in 2006 and has served as faculty for social innovation programs. She is actively involved in shaping social investments and has helped organizations with their legal and financial structures through Structure Lab© workshops. Joy's thought leadership has been featured in Bloomberg, CNN, ImpactAlpha, and Conscious Company. She has authored publications on women's funds, gender lens investing, and the field of gender lens investing. Joy holds a Ph.D. in American History and currently resides in a Connecticut apple orchard with her husband and daughter.