BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – As a student at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Lance Breitstein fell in love with the stock market. He read or watched anything he could find on the topic, whether it was a book, a blog or a video.
“What I realized was that I really wanted to go into the field of stock trading,” recalled Breitstein, a 2011 Kelley alumnus who today lives in Chicago.
After getting a bachelor’s degree in finance, Breitstein spent a “wonderful” decade working at Trillium Management, one of the nation’s first and fastest growing digital trading firms. He managed its Chicago office and became one of its top traders.
But by 2018, Breitstein felt he had accomplished much of what he had set out to do professionally and began thinking about how he could give back. He was deeply affected by something he read, “The Life You Can Save,” a 2009 book that has fueled the effective altruism movement and inspired major philanthropists to give more effectively.
“I realized that it’s not so much ‘can we do these things.’ We can, but it’s a lot of psychological biases to giving that prevents these things. My realization was that it’s not about picking a cause, it’s more so how can you get each person doing their own little part,” he said.
Breitstein realized he wanted to do more than simply write checks to different causes — he wanted to find ways for himself and others to “exponentially amplify” giving in some form, whether it was time, money, or wisdom.
It went back to what he learned at Kelley about “compounding” — the process in which an asset’s earnings are reinvested to generate additional earnings over time. But instead of just a financial asset, it also could involve the “good that you can do.”
A new kind of case competition is born
Around that time, he came to Bloomington for a return visit at the Kelley School and found a shared desire to challenge students to find new ways to address and resolve social issues, starting with those faced in Bloomington.
With support from the school’s Kelley Institute for Social Impact, the Kelley Impact Competition was born. Students would be introduced to a local public service organization and a key challenge it faces and then compete for $15,000 in student prize money. Most importantly, the winning team would receive $10,000 in seed money to put the winning idea into action.
The competition is open to all IU undergraduate students. Organizers welcome participation from teams of four students who demonstrate a variety of academic and professional interests.
“What really struck a chord with me with the impact competition is that you’re able to get right out in front of these socially minded college students, who truly care about these issues, and you are empowering them and showing them that they can make a difference and tackle these issues in the community around them,” Breitstein said.