Andrew Wolk, Root Cause

Andrew Wolk is the founder and CEO of Root Cause. Widely recognized as a leading social innovator and a pioneering teacher of social entrepreneurship, Andrew is passionate about the use of data and evidence in education, employment and health to improve people’s lives. 

At Root Cause, Andrew has consulted to dozens of nonprofits, foundations, and governments on strategic business planning, financial sustainability, performance measurement, and assessments. Under Andrew’s leadership, Root Cause collaborates with mission-driven leaders to solve challenges and build capable organizations with clear impact. Highlights: the longtime partnership with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and the launch, incubation, and spin-off of two nonprofits: Interise and Social Innovation Forum.

Andrew developed one of the nation’s first social entrepreneurship courses and has taught at MIT and Harvard. His board service includes Social Enterprise Alliance, Social Capitalist Awards, and Social Venture Partners. Follow him @AndrewWolk and @RootCause.

Root Cause is a pragmatic partner to nonprofits, foundations, and governments. Their passion: data, evidence, and generating high performance to improve outcomes, grantmaking, and, most importantly, people’s lives—faster, smarter, at greater scale. 

For over a decade, Root Cause has pioneered an efficient approach to strategic business planning, financial sustainability, performance measurement, and assessments. Their consultants engage across the social sector, with particular expertise in education, employment and health. Together with leaders, they solve complex challenges, build capable organizations, assess impact, and implement what’s needed to turn strategies into action.


In this interview, we discuss:

  1. How data and evidence can drive higher performance. (4:15)
  2. What does it mean to be a "pragmatic partner" to nonprofits, foundations, and governments, and how effective partnerships flourish. (10:00)
  3. Why an organization should be relentlessly focused on impact, and what that looks like. (13:45)
  4. How do we know that we're using data effectively? What is the role of data in assessments and how should we collect it? (17:30).
  5. What is the biggest issue facing our country today, and how Root Cause has shifted its focus to address it. (25:30) 


"I'm on a particular journey right now that I'm leading Root Cause through which is whether or not a relentless focus on a set of lifetime outcomes, based on the sector's working together from a performance framework, can actually make a difference."  -Andrew Wolk



  1. Andrew Wolk full bio and publications
  2. Root Cause e-book: Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact
  3. Root Cause e-book: Building a Performance Measurement System
  4. Campaign for Black Male Achievement
  5. Interise and Social Innovation Forum
  6. Andrew speaks on cross-sector collaboration
  7. Black Flags: The Rise of Isis as a recommended book


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