The Power of Art and Entrpreneurship: Bridge Building in the United States


A bridge has less to do with its literal definition in the context of making the world a better place than it does it's allegorical definition. Bridges serve as a wonderful metaphor to describe the necessary support we all need from one another to live a sustainable life.


A bridge is the manifestation of a solution, a positive relationship, a new community center, an art collective. With a new bridge, collectively constructed to enact positive change for the future, comes new friendships and family, creative inspiration that manifests into artifacts of social change, and the progress necessary to achieve equitable life in a social system historically plagued by deeply embedded discrimination, structural inequality and injustice.


There are various individuals and organizations that work together within underserved communities to establish impactful solutions. Impact Experience, co-founded by Jenna Nicholas and Daryn Dodson, is an organization that seeks to build bridges by working directly with community members in marginalized communities who invite the Impact Experience team to work with them on specific issues, alongside a team of innovators, investors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and educators to co-create real, lasting social change.


With their strategically designed curriculum that consists of a three-day period of trust building, discussion, site visits, and solution planning, Impact Experience co-creates programs with community members leading change within their localities.


For example, in response to the coal crisis in Williamson, West Virginia, the team has brought together, over the past few years, more than ninety impact investors, entrepreneurs, foundations, and innovators to contribute to economic progress and fight the region’s issues of obesity, diabetes, and opioid addiction.


Impact Experience also strives to advance business for women and minorities through over coming implicit bias in investing in partnership with SPARQ and Illumen Capital. In collaboration with YBCA and CultureBank, they also work to support artist entrepreneurs in the effort to integrate all individuals as valuable members of society.


The organization emphasizes the importance of collaboration for the community members’ benefit as well as the team of various innovators coming into these communities. The co-creation of commitments and solutions recognizes the necessity of mutual respect between the marginalized communities, funders and social justice advocates, as everyone involved shares their connection to a common humanity.


This respectful collaboration also recognizes the endless possibilities of learning from one another in the most obvious and subtlest ways within these non-extractive environments. Working within a community with the future and goal for improvement in mind redefines progress, making it more possible for everyone to work towards and achieve.


This can be seen in countless art and music movements throughout history that have brought individuals together out of necessity for community and social improvement and that have successfully marked their historical and ongoing positive change based on collaborative action.


Investors and entrepreneurs involved in Impact Experiences also see the unique value in directly working with community members in a communal environment, deeply connecting them to the issues at stake.


The bridges built by Impact Experience not only establish concrete signifiers of progress, such as the implementation of programs, centers, and engagement that addresses the environmental, economic, and social challenges of a specific community, but also introduces life-changing opportunities unique to the individuals involved.

Jenna Nicholas is the CEO of Impact Experience, President of Phoenix Global Impact, and spoke at TedX Portland about Divest-Invest Philanthropy. She has worked with the World Bank Treasury, Toniic, the Calvert Special Equities team, and the Nexus Global Youth Summit and Ethic. Interested in participating, hosting or supporting an Impact Experience? Please reach out to hello@impact-experience.com.