At a ceremony at NYU School of Law on June 5, a project submitted by the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) was named winner of the inaugural Grunin Prize for social entrepreneurship. The prize recognizes the variety and impact of lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development. The award ceremony took place at the 2018 conference of NYU Law’s Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship, co-organized with the Impact Investing Legal Working Group.

The winning project is a new investment product called “Performance Aligned Stock.” Designed to create an equity structure for socially responsible enterprises, Performance Aligned Stock allows investment without entrepreneurs being forced into an untimely exit, thereby preserving their company’s impact mission. WBD has already closed a Performance Aligned Stock transaction on behalf of Relevée, a woman-run artisanal jewelry manufacturer in India that uses ethically sourced gems and precious metals and employs women as artisans and goldsmiths, paying them a transformative middle-class wage. Members of the Grunin Prize-winning team are WBD attorneys Pamela Rothenberg, Alex Park, and Howard Solodky, Director of Impact Strategies Mark Newberg, and Ron Boehm from Boma Investments, John Berger from Relevée and Andy Lower from ADAP Capital. More information about the project and the team is available on WBD’s website.

Established in 2017 with a generous endowment from NYU Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, the Grunin Center is dedicated to accelerating the effective participation and enhancing the community of lawyers and legal institutions engaged in social entrepreneurship and impact investing. The Center does this through education, knowledge dissemination, and field-building collaborations, and it partners with Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs.

“More than two years ago, when Linda and I first proposed to NYU Law the idea of a Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship, little did we comprehend the magnitude of lawyer involvement in this space,” Jay Grunin said. “Their worldwide contributions in both the public and private arenas, as so demonstrably shown in the process of selecting the winner of this year’s inaugural Grunin Prize from such an astonishing list of nominees, more than reaffirms the need for an international Center of this kind and makes us very proud to be able to say that we were present at the creation." The Grunin Foundation is dedicated to increasing community involvement and economic development opportunities through the arts, healthcare, and education.

“An extraordinary legal community of practice is emerging in the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing as evident by our six Grunin Prize finalists,” said Deborah Burand, associate professor of clinical law and co-director of the Grunin Center. “The award of the Grunin Prize celebrates a remarkable achievement that members of this legal community are making toward developing innovative, scalable, and social entrepreneurial solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Posted June 6, 2018