Our Approach

We are guided by the idea that capitalism is a powerful & effective system, and when integrated with the core elements such as trust, compassion, collaboration and shared value creation, we can create good while generating profits.

Our theory of change directs all our work to ensure our daily activities give way to measurable outcomes and ultimately move us closer to our end impact of realizing a critical mass of capital shifted from traditional finance to impact investing.

Our History

Gratitude Railroad was founded in 2013 by Howard Fischer and Eric Jacobsen after attending the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. Howard, a hedge fund CEO, and Eric, a tech entrepreneur and private equity investor, developed Gratitude Railroad to transform traditional capitalism into a force for solving critical environmental and social problems. Together, they envisioned building a community that supported Gratitude Railroad and was committed to bettering the world.

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January 2013

Howard and Eric met at Harvard ALI

September 2013

The first Investor Retreat convenes a handful of mission-aligned investors with big visions

January 2015

Gratitude Railroad, LLC is established

October 2015

The Builders Fund is launched as a growth stage private equity fund investing in high-growth, purpose-driven companies

January 2016

Gratitude Railroad Ventures begins early-stage investing in a portfolio of businesses that tackle critical environmental and social problems

January 2017

GRR Dinner Series begins as a means to more regularly convene and catalyze impact investing communities across the US

January 2017

Gratitude Investment Partners is launched to increase the pool of capital dedicated to achieving GRR’s mission and investment philosophy

May 2017

Blackdirt Capital is launched as regenerative grass-fed beef production

July 2017

Blackdirt Farms is launched as an operational business to develop farmland, real asset, and value chain based investment strategies in the U.S. sustainable agriculture sector

September 2017

Gratitude Investor Retreat is established as a nationally-recognized impact investment convening

January 2018

GRR makes a strategic investment in Align Impact, an independent, specialized impact advisory firm that serves with individuals, families, foundations, and their financial advisors

December 2018

Atlas Impact Partners is launched as a long-short absolute return strategy hedge fund designed to capture investment opportunity at the nexus of innovation, disruption, and impact

Our Theory of Change

Theory of Change

We have built a theory of change that guides our stakeholders to think in backwards steps from the end vision to the short-term goals that are required to create our desired impact. Continually revisiting this practices helps us assure we stay focused on the change we seek and adapt our strategic activities accordingly. Today, the work we do is centered in the three core tracks outlined below. 

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A commitment to these principles guides our work:

Transparency | openly sharing both successes and failures, because we will all benefit from our mutual learnings

Collaboration | using a help-first mindset, because we realize that we can’t make meaningful progress on major societal challenges unless we work collectively with those who share in our vision

Experimentation | endeavoring to break trail, because innovation necessitates iterative ideas - even if they are messy!

Diligence | maintaining a careful and steadfast rigor in our work, because a commitment to excellence and expanding our knowledge will strengthen both our mission and community

Gratitude | appreciating the goodness in the world, tangible and intangible, because we aspire to connect to something larger than ourselves; to others, to nature, and to that which has yet to be created