2018 Annual Letter

Brett Hagler
Jan 2, 2019 · 7 min read

The impact, results, and state of New Story after our fourth year as an organization. Addressed to New Story’s Builders, advisors, partners and close friends of the organization.

When we started New Story only four years ago, we were trying to fund one home using a transparent, modern approach. We aimed to attract people who not only wanted to change lives but who also wanted to team up with a charity committed to doing things differently.

Since then, your belief and support have resulted in over 2,200 homes, 11 communities, 11,000+ lives changed, $25M+ raised, and breakthrough innovations — far surpassing what we envisioned in the first four years.

We have bigger dreams, crazy ideas, and more firsthand knowledge from our communities than ever before — and we’re only beginning. You’ve made the first four years possible, and we need partners like you to turn future vision into reality.

In 2018, you began to see what the future of New Story looks like: putting more focus on R&D and innovation than ever before. As a New Story supporter, it’s critical for you to understand why we’re doing this:

We’re committed to R&D and innovation as a nonprofit so we can reach families who lack safety and shelter exponentially faster.

We exist to pioneer solutions to end global homelessness. This pioneering focus enables us to “do and prove,” then share what we’ve created with the entire social housing sector.

We hope you can see the high leverage impact you’re making possible. Your support not only builds life-changing communities but now creates a broader impact because you’re helping other housing organizations and governments build better homes, with greater efficiency, in communities designed to thrive.

I know innovation can be shiny. But when we get the intersection of innovation and impact right, we reach so many more people than we could ever reach using a traditional approach.

Alejandra’s Story

Alejandra, a 14-year-old with an exceptional work ethic, is determined to become a lawyer. While slightly reserved when you first meet her, Alejandra’s tenacity is evident. Since she was young, her ever-growing collection of academic awards, certificates, and class honors have been carefully hung in her home, contrasting with the worn tarp and rusted metal walls. Alejandra lives with her single mother and two younger sisters in a makeshift home in El Salvador. Her home is on the edge of a swamp, and is filled with mud and dangerous bacteria every time it rains.

Recently, Alejandra’s living conditions have started to threaten her impeccable academic record and career goals. Without reliable electricity and computer access, she cannot complete her homework assignments. However, her family’s upcoming move to La Herradura, a New Story community, will rewrite the direction of her story. In her new community, Alejandra will have access to ongoing electricity, a computer lab and closer employment opportunities for her mother. With a new home on the horizon, Alejandra’s future as a lawyer has become visible again.

Results and Growth in 2018

*This is not an exact amount as we have not finished our final end of year financials.

We Launched The Housing Innovation Toolkit

We’re developing innovations to amplify impact not only for our own work but for other housing organizations and governments as well. We believe the biggest change will happen by working together.

Our role, beyond building excellent communities, is to help accelerate the work of others. The Housing Innovation Toolkit is composed of the proven breakthroughs we’ve used to grow our impact, and it currently exists in three parts.

1. A set of software tools created to increase efficiency in collecting, managing, and analyzing data from the field.

2. Lean Participatory Design: a streamlined process for successfully designing human-centered communities. See the LPD field guide here.

3. Access to breakthrough homebuilding innovations, like the 3D printer we launched this past spring.

Our first partners will be using the Housing Innovation Toolkit in Q1. More to come on results during the 2019 Q1 recap.

Building Our Future

The Builders are the private group of donors who cover our overhead so 100% of your donation goes toward building homes. In 2018, the Builders generously pledged $6M in multi-year commitments. This year, we grew the Builders program from 29 to 44 members. The Builders are comprised of these visionary individuals, families, and foundations that are building the future of New Story.

3D Printing Homes and Communities

What started as an unfathomable idea has become a reality — and a viable path to revolutionizing the future of safe shelter.

In partnership with ICON, a construction technology company, we designed a 3D printer specifically made to work under the constraints that are common in places like Haiti, Mexico and rural El Salvador where we work. And it worked: we successfully printed the first house, built to US housing standards in Austin, TX. The printer, called the Vulcan 1, was named one of TIME’s 50 Best Inventions of 2018.

Since printing the first home in March 2018, we’ve been working with ICON on the “Vulcan 2” which is an entirely new 3D printer, significantly better than version one. We can’t wait to show you videos of the Vulcan 2 in action as it 3D prints the first community in history in 2019.

Brand Partnerships

We continued our core brand partnerships with Architectural Digest, Sotheby’s International Realty, World Housing, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and G2 Crowd.

We were funded by and struck new partnerships with Goldman Sachs, Coupa, and Yves Behar + fuseproject. Thank you to all of the brands that have joined our mission.


We end 2018 with 19 team members in 4 departments — Brand, Growth, Ops, and Tech — and will be hiring more full-time roles in 2019. Sign up for job updates here.

Onward To 2019

We’re heading into 2019 with more opportunities for impact than we’ve ever had. You can expect to see:

Ways To Get Involved in 2019

Crazy Until it’s Not

Our brand team produced a 4 minute film sharing the first four years of New Story and our future vision. The “Crazy Until It’s Not” ethos is at the core of New Story’s team, donors, and partners.

From the beginning, we’ve seen crazy ideas become reality. We’re so grateful to be on this journey with you. Thank you for making crazy dreams come true.

New Story

A nonprofit startup pioneering solutions to end global homelessness

Thanks to Sarah Lee

Brett Hagler

Written by


New Story

New Story

A nonprofit startup pioneering solutions to end global homelessness

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