Millennials are making money by investing in the future.
True
The Rockefeller Foundation

If you invest $30,000 in three specific stocks, you could triple your money in 10 years.

At least that’s what acclaimed financial analyst Malcolm Berko wrote in his advice column last year.

The stocks you’d have to invest in, he said, are Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin — three defense companies. In other words, what he’s saying is: You could triple your money in 10 years, but you’d be capitalizing on the U.S. revving up its defense spending.


But here’s the thing: Some investors, especially millennials, aren’t concerned with only the returns.

Image via iStock.

As a generation, millennials want to put their money into stocks that are good for the world.

They’ve seen firsthand how much can change in 25 years. They’ve seen technology move at warp speed, lived through major policy shifts, and watched the world’s population grow. They know they can effect change in the next 25 years — and they know we need change.

Millennials are also more apt to distrust financial institutions. As a generation, they had to enter the workforce amid record high unemployment rates, stagnant wages, and larger student debt bills than any previous generation. That’s why many millennials want to take financial matters into their own hands.

In the next several decades, an estimated $30 trillion will be passed down from baby boomers to younger generations. That means $30 trillion of the world’s assets could be reallocated into humanitarian endeavors.

In addition, by 2020, millennials will comprise 46% of the workforce, and as they become the primary earners, they will have an even greater effect on investing in this country.  

Image via iStock.

In fact, they may well be the first generation that considers making the world a better place along with investment returns.

And it makes sense if you think about it: This is the generation that was promised a return on investment on their college tuition and instead got stuck with a massive bill and waning job prospects. The world they grew up in taught them to put less stock into promised returns and care more about tangible value.

But there is a smart way for millennials to invest in making the world a better place. It’s called impact investing.

Impact investing essentially means putting money into causes that effect social change, explains Adam Connaker, an associate at The Rockefeller Foundation, a foundation that is working to solve the world’s biggest and most entrenched challenges through innovative finance mechanisms.

“You have a right as an investor, no matter your size, to ask what impact your investments are having in the world,” says Connaker.

If the projects do well, the investors see good returns on their investments. It proves altruism and making money on your investments are not mutually exclusive.

Eric Letsinger, founder and CEO of Quantified Ventures, says we are witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in our country’s history, while simultaneously seeing government funding for health, social, and environmental programs dry up. As a result, impact investing will likely get a huge boost from millennial investors thanks to inherited and newly accumulated wealth.

Many of these impact investing projects allow members of a community to invest in public works that will improve their own neighborhoods. For example, Jason Anderson, president and CEO of Neighborly Securities, worked on a deal in Burlington, Vermont, that encouraged residents to invest in public projects like building sidewalks, rehabilitating bike paths, and improving waterfront access to Lake Champlain.

Photo via Garrett Brinker/Neighborly.

“We've talked to resident investors up in Burlington who told us that the main reason they invested in the issuance was because they commute to and from work on that bike path every day,” says Anderson. “Because of their investment in the city, they can have a direct impact on that rehabilitation project.”

Putting money into city-centric or environmental initiatives allows investors to directly affect the future of our communities.

Image via iStock.

Letsinger says that in 2016, they worked on an environmental impact bond with DC Water. The project financed green infrastructure as an alternative to building large concrete tunnels for Washington, D.C.’s water utility.

“If the project succeeds, it presents a win-win to both the investors and DC Water: The investors earn a higher return than they would have on a standard municipal bond from DC Water, and DC Water has then proven that green infrastructure is highly cost-effective,” explains Letsinger.

In addition to the high returns for investors, the DC Water investment helped create green jobs and improve neighborhoods, and the success of this project will have future implications when it comes to making cities more environmentally friendly.

Because many millennials are a generation that would rather see green infrastructure go up in their neighborhood than watch their bank balance go up on a computer screen, they’re the first generation that could make impact investing the norm.

If the millennial generation commits to investing in causes, it could change how we see money.

Image via iStock.

In fact, Letsinger says that most of the impact investors his company works with are millennials. Working with clients who are motivated not just by making money but by improving the world for future generations allows impact investing firms to target niche causes in various communities around the world.

He also says 2017 was a particularly good year for impact investing, which bodes well at such an early stage. He means that the returns on investment were good — but also that they saw more interest among people looking to make a difference.

With impact investing, “values and returns can coexist, allowing investors to fight climate change, produce more affordable housing, and develop clean energy,” says Anderson.

If this trend continues, 20 years from now, financial advisers might be primarily offering environmental causes to invest in, rather than defense stocks.

Putting some savings into investments is something most people either already do or are going to do in the coming years. That doesn’t need to change — what can change is where we put that money.

We can no longer rely on our government to fund the social and environmental efforts needed to improve our society and planet as a whole. This financial shift to impact investing will allow us to pool our money with other people who also want to create positive change. As a result, it can happen on a larger scale than we ever thought possible. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll likely find you can do well for yourself while simultaneously doing good in the world.

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot — or will not.

Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

Keep Reading Show less

Everyone can all use a little lift at the end of the week, and we've collected some of this week's best stories to provide just such a pick-me-up. Here are 10 things we want to share, just because they made us so darn happy.

1. Introducing Lila, the U.S. Capitol Police's first emotional support dog.

After the traumatic experiences of January 6th, Capitol Police officers could definitely use some extra support. Lila, a two-year-old black lab, will now serve as the department's first full-time emotional support dog. Look at that sweet face!

2. Speaking of the Capitol, take a look at this week's gorgeous solar eclipse behind the dome.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the stunning "ring of fire" image on Twitter. Always a treat when nature gives us a great show.


3. Colorado sees its first wild wolf pups in six decades.

In the 1940s, the gray wolf was eradicated in Colorado by trappers and hunters, with the support of the federal government. Whoops. This week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced the first evidence of wild wolf breeding in the state, a sign of hope for the endangered species. Read more about the discovery here.

Photo by M L on Unsplash


4. 30-year-old singer with terminal cancer amazed and inspired with her performance on America's Got Talent.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."