Joe Sanberg: We Can — And Must — End Poverty in 30 Years

Listen to the episode below — or subscribe with Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn, and other podcast apps. Find other recent episodes here.

Joe SanbergJoe Sanberg grew up in poverty, raised for much of his childhood by a single mother who worked hard but still struggled to secure food and shelter.

With scholarships and financial aid, he was able to get into Harvard, and after he graduated magna cum laude, he sought out the highest paying job he could get, at a major private equity group — so he could provide for his mother.

But after accomplishing that mission and succeeding on Wall Street, he decided to devote the rest of his career to the cause of ending poverty, not just for his mother, but for all Americans.

That may seem like a crazy ambition, but in a short time, Joe Sanberg has racked up some very impressive accomplishments that show how it might be possible.

He and his friend Andrei Cherny co-founded Aspiration, a socially responsible, online bank and investment firm. Aspiration invites customers to pay whatever they think its services are worth — even if that’s nothing.

Joe is also a prime mover behind the California Earned Income Tax Credit, which has helped 800,000 low-income California families in its first two years of existence.

And he established the Working Hero political action committee. Working Hero supports candidates who are committed to ending poverty.

Spencer Critchley spoke with Joe Sanberg recently at the headquarters of Aspiration in Marina Del Rey, California. As you’re about to hear, a conversation with him is a series of big, bold ideas, backed up by a commitment to compassion in life and business.

Episode Links



Working Hero PAC

Franklin Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights

Franklin Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" Speech (video excerpt)

About Joe Sanberg


Joseph N. Sanberg is a progressive entrepreneur who is working through both the public and private sectors to make people’s lives better.

Joe believes that business can be a force for good, and that entrepreneurs have an important role to play in improving public policy and encouraging public service. He founded the Golden State Opportunity Foundation to expand financial security to the millions of Californians who work hard yet experience constant financial stress. Joe has been the leading advocate for the state’s new earned income tax credit for low-income families. Joe not only lobbied California to pass the credit, but when the state didn't allocate enough money for outreach, Joe created CalEITC4Me to connect California families with $2 billion of state and federal tax refunds.

He is Co-Founder and Chair of, an online financial company built for everyone. Aspiration serves people at the heart of their financial lives - their banking account - in a trust-based model that empowers people to choose whatever fee they think is fair (even zero) and enables them to bank, invest, and spend in accordance with their values. Aspiration's approach has made it the fastest-growing and most beloved consumer financial company in America.

Joe understands that businesses should be tools for solving problems. He is a leading investor in a number of industry changing companies including: Blue Apron, the largest fresh meal-kit company in the United States; IVY, the leading social university; and Bright Funds, a next-generation charitable platform that’s empowering everyday donors to have an impact on the causes they care about.

Joe also serves on the board of the Sierra Club Foundation, the Economic Innovation Group, and the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which engages over 1 million young people each year in volunteerism and public service. He serves on Board of Trustees of the University of California, Riverside School of Public Policy. Joe also volunteers at Casa Teresa, a homeless shelter for pregnant women in Orange, California.

A native of Southern California, Joe is a graduate of Servite High School in Anaheim and Harvard University. He lives in Los Angeles with his rescue dog Bruce.

Share on Facebook:

Facebook card: Joe Sanberg on the Dastardly Cleverness in the Service of Good podcast

Share on Twitter:

Twitter card: Joe Sanberg on the Dastardly Cleverness in the Service of Good podcast