Fifteen years ago, ideas42 was founded on the belief that many of the world’s greatest challenges could benefit from harnessing a deep understanding of human behavior.

Poverty, education, health, the justice system—across all of these issues and more, persistent inequalities resisted easy resolution. 

Since then, we’ve been at the forefront of pioneering a new approach: centering insights about how people actually make decisions, and reflecting sensitivity to the unique contexts that shape people’s everyday lives. The results of our first 15 years—including helping hundreds of thousands of students access higher education in the United States; innovating in healthcare settings in sub-Saharan Africa to reduce preventable deaths during childbirth; and employing thoughtful design to boost agricultural yields for subsistence farming communities—have emboldened our conviction that behavioral science has an significant role to play in building a more just world where everyone can thrive. 

Hundreds of billions of dollars and no shortage of good intentions have been spent globally to eradicate poverty and inequality. Yet poverty and pervasive inequality persist. Too often, such efforts are built on flawed assumptions about human behavior. This prevents billions of people from realizing their full capabilities. We must do better, and we can’t continue taking the same approach to solving these so-called intractable challenges—we must think differently.

Behavioral science provides the lens needed to think about, see, and ultimately solve these problems differently. To see humans as they truly are, not how we wish they were. To understand how the contexts in which they live and act have an outsized, and often unfair, impact on their lives. To recognize how simply experiencing poverty makes it harder to follow through on their own intentions.  

After 15 years of research, investigation, and evaluation—questioning everything along the way—we have a track record of insights and evidence from more than 600 projects. With what we’ve learned along the way, we’ve refined our work to be even more focused (and ambitious) in how we strive to counter global inequality. 

We use behavioral science to create a more equitable world.

We deliver social impact by reinventing systems and designing services, policies, and products in collaboration with and for the benefit of communities with the fewest resources and opportunities.

Simply put, to make the world better, we need to make it fairer. Everything we do, however different in focus, geography, and execution, is ultimately aimed at addressing the problem of inequality and its effects. This is a bold aspiration. And for ideas42, it’s grounded in concrete evidence and proven solutions.

In celebration of 15 years of work in the service of our mission, we’ll be spending the year examining where we’ve come from, reflecting on some of the most meaningful insights we’ve gained and impact we’ve created with our partners and academic affiliates, and looking ahead at the next 15 years for ideas42. 

Follow along with us as we track 15 years of using behavioral science to create a more equitable world by signing up for our email newsletter here