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Impact Engine to Be Honored with Chicagoness Award

Impact Engine to be honored for their contribution to Chicago and the world; Impact Engine has invested in 29 businesses improving the lives of individuals, families, communities and the environment and recently launched a $10 million seed fund

The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center announced it will present the second annual Chicagoness Award to Impact Engine at the 9th Annual Momentum Awards, to be held onOctober 6. The CEC launched this award last year to honor those who exemplify the values of the Chicago entrepreneurial community, which include hard work, inclusion, and commitment to collective opportunity.

“Impact Engine is a perfect example of the spirit of Chicagoness,” said Jim O’Connor, Jr., CEC Chairman of the Board. “Impact Engine’s commitment to finding the most impactful businesses and helping them grow and expand has had a huge positive effect on the tech ecosystem in the Chicago area, as well as the world. We are proud to be their partner.”

Impact Engine is a venture fund that invests in early stage companies that aim to improve education, health, economic empowerment, and resource efficiency. They typically invest between $25,000 and $250,000 in companies with measurable, positive, social, or environmental impact that is tied to their business model. Since 2012, Impact Engine has invested nearly $1,000,000 in 29 socially and environmentally impactful companies, which has led to an additional $35.2 million in follow-up investments.

“We are so honored to receive the Chicagoness Award. Chicago’s entrepreneurial community is thriving on the creation of real value by solving real problems,” said Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO of Impact Engine. “We believe businesses that improve education, health, economic empowerment, and resource efficiency are creating some of the most significant value. Our community is built on entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors that reflect our home in Chicago with their spirit of community and strong work ethic.”

Impact Engine was co-founded in 2012 by Linda Darragh and Jamie Jones as a for-profit social venture accelerator providing seed capital to early-stage technology companies who were solving social and environmental issues and was initially led by successful entrepreneur and angel investor Chuck Templeton, founder of OpenTable. For its first two years, Impact Engine set out to bring together social entrepreneurs and investors who were interested in growing social impact through for-profit business models. Impact Engine built a portfolio of 23 companies as an accelerator in its first three years.  In 2015, Impact Engine launched a $10 million venture fund and started investing to better support the community of impact entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors that want to grow impact investing in Chicago and around the world.

“Impact Engine enabled ThinkCERCA to impact education on a very large scale rapidly. Without the resources, advice, and mentorship of the amazing network, we might not have been able to build our company. What we were doing seemed really hard to most, but Impact Engine knew that was exactly why the opportunity was so great.  Their vigilant support has helped us close the achievement gap for kids around the country,” says Eileen Murphy, founder and CEO of ThinkCERCA, an Impact Engine portfolio company.

Julian Miller, founder & CEO of Learnmetrics, another Impact Engine portfolio company, added, “Impact Engine is the single best choice we made for Learnmetrics, period. We came to Chicago knowing how to build a product, but the process, guidance, and network that Impact Engine catalyzed around us taught us how to build a business and how to weave social impact into the fiber of our culture; inside and out. They've been there nearly every step of the way and we can't think of a future brighter than one with Impact Engine as our partner.”

“The Chicagoness Award is a very special award,” said CEO of CEC/1871 Howard A. Tullman. CEC owns the trademark on the phrase ‘Chicagoness,’” and Chicagoness was the theme of the 2015 Momentum Dinner. Impact Engine will join Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, the co-founders of ContextMedia, as the only recipients to date of the award.” The award will be presented on October 6 at the Ninth Annual Momentum Awards, along with the Entrepreneurial Champion Award, the Corporate Champion Award, and the Momentum Award.

The Momentum Awards stands as Chicago’s largest annual event which honors entrepreneurial achievements, over 750 of Chicago’s entrepreneurial, business and community leaders will attend. It is the main fundraiser of the CEC and benefits 1871.  

To learn more, visit

Impact Engine’s active portfolio companies are:

Civic Artworks, ClassroomIQ, Develop Link, Edovo, Effortless Energy, Fletch, Guard Llama,Infiniteach, Learnmetrics, Luna Lights, Meal Sharing, Pangea, Piece & Co., Portapure, Prana Diabetes, Regroup Therapy, Skill Scout, Sokowatch, ThinkCERCA, Totus Power, Wala,Youtopia, Zero Percent, Zukeeni

About Impact Engine

Impact Engine is a venture fund that invests financial and human capital in early-stage, for-profit technology businesses that are improving education, health, economic empowerment, and resource efficiency.  For more information, visit

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