We, as a society, have a tendency to de-personalize the economy as if it is a force of nature like a hurricane or an earthquake. We talk about economic forces as if there is no human agency. And, as a society, we privilege the expert knowledge of finance. Even those who know a good bit demur from claiming expertise. In this context, all but the most exquisitely credentialed require a compelling invitation to approach the finance table, especially when it’s set to rethink the rules. We need to hear we have permission to engage – even if we already have it – and to access safe spaces to practice financial language and analysis.

But the fact is that we constructed these systems. We made up the rules of finance, markets, and systems. The relaxing thing? We can change them. It is vital that we share an imagination that we can create a different market system, and we can do this in small steps with simple actions.

Through several of our church and gender-focused programs, we invite individuals to engage in simple action with us, whether that means using finance as a tool for social change through TOOLKIT, 1K Churches, or a gender-focused research project. For example, the 1K Churches Bible study gives access to the knowledge and language to participate, grounded in a familiar experience. The loan or investment at the end requires engagement but is relatively simple. We have learned to simplify the action so the focus can be on the reflection, both personal and societal.

Our theory of change contains six foundational elements: cultural reframes, invitations to simple action, a base of leaders equipped for this work, design and demonstration of new possibilities, institutional structures to sustain leadership, and amplification of the work.

Criterion Institute, 501(c)(3) 81 Church Hill Rd · Haddam, CT 06438 860-345-3520 (main) · info@criterioninstitute.org ©2023, all rights reserved.

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