Sage Collective: A Distinguished Model
Sage Collective is a fiercely nimble, adaptable — and, above all else, intentional — player in the field of older adult living. To illuminate just what makes the Sage Collective model so distinctive, from framework to funding, we sat down with Marc J. Lane, a nationally recognized business and tax attorney, pioneer behind the Advocacy Investing® approach to socially responsible and mission-related investing, and member of the Sage Collective Leadership Team.
What sets Sage Collective’s approach to affordable housing apart from others?
ML: For Sage Collective, It’s not just about housing — it’s about life enrichment, life extension and living better longer. So from architectural design to programming to wraparound services, Sage Collective is developing a unique and unprecedented program to serve older adults, looking at housing as healthcare that focuses not just on health, but on the whole person. That framework therefore expands and includes arts and culture: dance, yoga, massage, computer skills, gardening. You name it, whatever contributes to the lifestyle and wellbeing of the residents, it will be there.
Not only will there be services of the highest quality, but the residents themselves will have an advocate. Sage Collective will pursue public policy initiatives, setting themselves up as a trusted advisor, convener, collaborator and catalyst to ensure that older adults get the best possible treatment across the entire board, with an impact that goes far beyond what Sage Collective themselves implements.
How does Sage Collective fall into the category of a mission-driven venture?
ML: Every nonprofit is mission-driven by law, but not every nonprofit is a mission-driven venture. Sage Collective is not (and will not be) wholly dependent upon philanthropy, government contracts and grants. It’s pursuing market-based strategies to be self-reliant and financially sustainable. Sage Collective relies largely on earned revenue, delivering market-based solutions driven by the older adult audience Sage serves what they need, what they want and how they receive the support that’s being provided. The resulting wraparound living services have a wide scope, from campus-style residences to intergenerational programming to research, data-sharing and advocacy. And underscoring every single one of those offerings is Sage’s desire to serve its older adult population and promote vibrant, engaged living.
Simultaneously, Sage Collective values leveraging its thought leadership and collaborating with other nonprofits, for-profits, investors and even government agencies whose interests and values align with those of the organization. So Sage Collective is synergetic, it’s innovative, it’s disruptive.
As a nonprofit with 40+ years under its belt, how do you see the mission of Sage Collective as being highly evolved?
ML: There’s an extraordinary history here. Donna Gaines and Dwain Kyles, who lead the board, were intimately involved in the management of Sage Collective’s affordable housing community, Willa Rawls Manor. There were lessons learned, but having sold that asset, they now have the rare opportunity to reimagine their vision guided by that experience. Donna and Dwain (along with the other members of the board) have decades of experience and expertise that is unmatched anywhere else. The population they serve will be empowered by virtue of that commitment and the compassion they have demonstrated over these decades.
And about the Sage Collective board: Donna and Dwain put together a national leadership team which is highly unusual, if not unique, bringing together experts in all of the relevant disciplines — gerontology, medicine, law, finance, customer experience and others. With that kind of collective knowledge, experience, relationships and the platform all of those folks leverage, Sage Collective will set the standard to which other affordable housing initiatives will aspire.
How is Sage Collective’s model built to scale, and be replicable nationally?
ML: Market-driven decisions, when done right, are driven by evidence and by data. For Sage Collective, data will be used not only to determine effectiveness of programming and services — ensuring these services are impactful and well-received by the target population — but data will also be deployed for the public good. Yielding its expertise in data development, translation and deployment, Sage Collective will be able to scale up.
So when it comes to creating measurable social impact as a social venture, this data and its deployment also ensure Sage is held accountable to the financial returns on investment and the social returns on investment, too. When Sage Collective’s findings are made available to a wide range of other parties, public and private, then with a powerful bottom line: the older adult population will be the beneficiary of all those better-informed decisions now being made within society. This becomes an all-hands-on-deck venture, a movement where Sage Collective is the spearhead, and in which all of us benefit, because all of us are touched by the older adults in our lives; how they live and how successful they are.