Carol Newell inherited a substantial fortune over several years. In 1992 at 37 years old, believing she already had “more than enough”, she chose to dedicate the majority of her wealth to making the world a better place.

In 1989 Carol had begun work to address ongoing issues she saw as arising out of systemic problems. She was determined to encourage new ways of thinking and actual habit change in individuals, businesses and organizations. With the hope to derail root issues and demonstrate that scaled individual changes actually add up to a lot, she co-founded the Sage Foundation with Mary Ferguson and Brenda Sawada. This was the first step from simply wanting to make a difference to diving in and hiring a team.

Sage designed a program called EcoMotion and delivered the BC arm of the national program, Destination Conservation, to over 250 schools across BC, presenting programs on waste reduction (solid, energy, food, water) and integrating the material into intersecting communities that are inherently part of school communities. It circled teams of students, teachers, principals, parents, and custodial experts from school districts around a common purpose.

Choosing to remain anonymous when the inheritances arrived, she quietly launched the Endswell Foundation in 1991. She found an additional focus for her increased capacity in British Columbia’s mix of vast pristine wilderness, and sophisticated urban meeting places, which might also be knit together to leverage great change at home and perhaps provide a model for national influences. So began The Experiment, as she continued to dedicate her attention to nurturing broad-spectrum solutions to the ecological, social and economic problems facing her home province and Canada.

“By the time the third inheritance arrived I’d already established that I had more money for myself than i could ever use personally, and that Endswell also had enough; at outset being the largest environmentally focused foundation in BC at that time. Now I had another tranch of capital to give purpose to. I felt that business could be part of the solution—harnessed to shift the paradigm as easily as it could be allowed to run rampant. I decided to use this money to champion businesses as a force for sustainability. But with vastly increased capacity, I knew it was time to ramp up. It would take another team to leverage my wealth to its fullest potential.“

Carol invited Joel Solomon to tackle placing the capital allocated for solutions-based business investments and locating appropriate companies and entrepreneurs. Later he began to advise on more strategically activating the philanthropic assets as well.

Carol and Joel met through a social network of individuals using wealth for the common good. They both recognized wealth as a responsibility and a rare and unique opportunity to create change. They shared a mutual desire to make their contributions as a part of a much larger global movement. They saw a shared long-term vision of social and environmental impact.

The name Renewal obviously encapsulated the biggest-picture purpose of this capital, but also came from a play on Carol’s last name and the fact that while she still chose to remain anonymous, amusingly every time the funds were discussed her name would be called into the discussion.

Joel Solomon’s family concerns were in large-scale real estate development and in politics. Early on, he recognized both the strengths and weaknesses of the business and political models in play. He committed his talent, experience and resources to creating new business models incorporating both community and planetary goals. He discovered BC’s beauty and potential in the 1970’s and embraced the opportunity to make it his permanent home and the focus of his work.

When Carol asked Joel to act as team leader for Renewal, an exploratory contract transformed into two decades of remarkable collaboration. Joel was the forward face of Renewal while Carol remained anonymous until 2005. They assembled a team of advisors, to establish investment and philanthropic focus, guidelines and strategic plans for the sibling entities, Renewal Partners and Endswell Foundation. Joel conceived the framework of a 50-year strategy and a 500-year intention. He passionately applied his strategic thinking, intuition and relationship skills to the mission, while growing a staff to provide implementation capacity to match the capital capacity. Their initial focus was on British Columbia, on the challenges and promise of the region. Their aim was to shift the way capital is used—and to move the culture of business from the dominance of the quarterly bottom line, to one in which the long-term future of the human and natural world is an integral part of economic success.

In 2004, when ardently fueling action in the face of climate change seemed such an obvious and imperative thing to do, Carol decided to abandon anonymity to support and inspire others with the capacity to push the edges of their own pockets. Carol invited Marian Moore to help design and convene intimate gatherings that would create a circle of support for people daring to resist the pressure to simply cling to wealth and might instead channel it toward creating big change.

Play BIG launched in fall of 2005 and an extensive period of publicity and opportunities to encourage bold response to the times followed. Through Play BIG gatherings, speaking engagements and their many networks, Carol and Joel have shared their story with other wealth holders who take heart and inspiration from the successes and learnings of Renewal. What has become evident is remarkable work is underway everywhere.

A new investment firm was envisioned to provide opportunity for outside investors, utilizing Renewal’s social venture expertise honed over the previous 14 years. In 2009 Renewal2 Investment Fund was introduced as an independent company under its own management and ownership, and soon rebranded as Renewal Funds, with its own mandate, and necessarily more professional business style distinct from Renewal Partners. A forerunner in a burgeoning market, Renewal Funds is a highly regarded venture capital firm, with Joel serving as Chair of the board.

Since the early 1990s, Renewal has made hundreds of investments, grants and collaborations, infusing capital large and small, fueling people power. The aim of building a robust, generative and inclusive economy runs parallel to the aim of repairing, renewing and preserving natural habitats with their own inherent economies which provide essential services worldwide for the benefit of all. All the tools of business are used and reshaped to support this long-term sustainability. When considering held assets above a certain threshold, Carol is still determined to liberate them from the stern mandate to make more money. When given this flexibility and ability to respond without risk of censure, both prudent financial management and more radical deployment can work hand in hand with the large-scale activation of wealth to make long-term positive differences in a region.

With a strong base in BC, built over its first twenty years, Renewal enters the next chapter. We stand with the exceptional innovators across Canada, North America, and beyond, who are redesigning the economy, culture and public policy to meet the demands of the future.