Oct 2023  •  Opinion essay

Hicks, Brock. Africa is a Country

Ruto's Climate Contradictions and the Green Growth Lie

Part One  •  Part Two

This is a two-part series on how Ruto has used his climate policies to further his own agenda. In part one, I discuss his climate contradictions across crucial sectors, how he has positioned himself as the pan-African climate champion, and his embrace of carbon markets. In part two, I analyze how he is using the ideology of green growth to profit from climate emergency. I then consider alternatives to green growth for a more just transition in Africa. 

The essay was re-published by African Arguments (parts one & two) and The Elephant (part one)

Oct 2023  •  Event debrief

Hicks, Brock. Self-published

At the Africa Climate Summit, I convened and moderated a panel discussion with an important cross-section of of parties involved in informal settlement upgrading in Nairobi, a city that is pioneering groundbreaking practices for integrated, inclusive and pro-poor urban planning and development. We focused on two main questions: Is urban upgrading climate adaptation?  And, what are the opportunities, challenges and risks when translating key strategies used in the Mukuru Special Planning Area to other settlements in Nairobi and in cities across Africa? I also discuss how the depoliticised Nairobi Declaration falls short in terms of planning with instead of for the urban poor and how we must be pragmatic instead of normative, meeting people where they are. 

Feb 2022 – Mar 2023  •  Blogs

Hicks, Brock. Enduring Planet

A variety of content marketing blogs

Produced 850-word blogs at the intersection of climate, startups, and fundraising for a leading provider of non-dilutive financing. Blogs were based on 30-minute audio recordings of conversations with various experts on each topic. 

Links to blogs

Top selection


Crafting a Winning Urban Strategy: How to Partner with Cities as a Climate Startup or SMB

Key questions and tactics for partnering with public sector agencies in cities.


To Podcast or Not to Podcast?

Considerations, benefits and practical tips for starting your own podcast.


Crafting the Perfect Pitch Narrative

Key narrative and design considerations for fundraising pitch decks.


Aligning your Climate Impact Model With Investors’ Expectations

Making a technical topic approachable and practical. 



Pitch Perfect: Fine-Tuning your Early Stage Impact Narrative for Different Investors


It’s Who You Know: How to Build Social Capital to Unlock Your Business’ Potential


Sh*t happens: building resilience for you and your climate business


Finding your Guardian Angel: Optimizing Engagement with Angel Investors


From Founder to CEO: Becoming the Leader your Company Needs as You Scale


How to Take the “Hard” out of Climate Hardware Investing


Build a “Pro” Pro Forma


Intentional Recruiting Strategies for Early-Stage Climate Startups


Building a Board That Works for You


Integrating ESG Throughout Startup Operations 


Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Running your First Industrial Pilot


Raising Capital from Impact Collectives 


Cementing your Impact through Better Governance: B Corps and PBCs


Building Partnerships with State Entities like NYSERDA


The Guide to Competitive Dynamics for Climate Startups


Making Prize Competitions Work for your Climate Startup

2021  •  Peer-reviewed article

Hicks, Brock, and Michael Lens. Education and Urban Society

charter schools  •  school enrollments  •  race  •  school choice

The meteoric rise in charter schools has several implications for traditional public schools and their students. One understudied implication is the geographic competition for students. Given traditional public school boundaries are often fixed while charter school boundaries are more flexible, charter schools can draw students away from existing traditional public schools, and we have very little information about how distance matters in the competition for students. Because of this, traditional public schools and school districts have little ability to plan for enrollment changes in the face of charter school growth. Our paper uses data on enrollments and demographics in all charter and traditional public schools in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2013 to better understand these dynamics. We find that traditional public school enrollments clearly decline with competition from nearby charter schools. However, we also observe that charter schools tend to locate where traditional public school enrollments are on the decline. Competition is more relevant for elementary schools at short distances—within about 1 mi appears to be where the associations between charter school enrollments and TPS enrollment declines are the strongest. For middle and high schools, those connections are apparent within 2 to 6 mi in some models.

2019  •  Blog

Hicks, Brock, and Joe DiStefano. UrbanFootprint

Corporate site selection involves an iterative analysis of several costs, benefits, and trade-offs through a geospatial lens. Today’s companies want to be sure their next location will be cost-effective, attractive to top talent, and supportive to long-term business growth. Without the right tools at your disposal, this type of analysis typically requires extensive knowledge in both data science and GIS, and often demands a time-intensive data collection process. In this blog, we’ll show you how UrbanFootprint helps businesses analyze location decisions for expansion or relocation with no GIS training required.

Other examples of content marketing blogs I wrote for UrbanFootprint include scenario modeling, mapping road network data, 3D data visualization, and land use mapping and analysis.

2017  •  Blog

Hicks, Brock. Center for Cities and Schools, Institute for Urban and Regional Development, UC Berkeley

The number—and the proportion—of students enrolled in charter schools (independently run public schools) is increasing nationwide, particularly in urban school districts. Policymakers have long prescribed new institutional forms as solutions to persistent public policy issues. Market-oriented educational reformers favor charter schools as the answer to the problems in urban public school systems; public and private funds available for constructing and running charter schools continue to increase. Research on student performance in charter schools (CS) compared to traditional public schools (TPS) has found mixed results. For example, the 2013 study from the CREDO Institute at Stanford University found that charter schools outperform TPS in reading and are comparable in math. Researchers have also found that charter schools affect enrollment patterns, segregation, and performance in nearby traditional public schools (see the full report for details). 

However, there is little analysis about how charter schools may affect neighborhoods. It is well understood that school quality is an important factor in how households select neighborhoods in which to live, but little is known about how charter schools affect neighborhood change and household location choice. Could the advent of a charter school draw households with relatively higher incomes, and distinct sociodemographic characteristics, to move into lower-income neighborhoods? Could the search for higher-quality schools outside a household’s neighborhood be the first step in eventual relocation? Could households with school-age children be agents of neighborhood change and new gentrifiers? Or conversely, are startup charter schools opening in already gentrifying neighborhoods? And whether they emerge before, after or during, what role might charter schools play in affecting neighborhood change?

2013  •  Blog

Hicks, Brock. Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

On February 21st, 69 organizations submitted a letter to President Barack Obama in support of continued funding for Public Law 480 (also known as Food for Peace) and Food for Progress international food aid programs in the FY 2014 budget and opposing rumored proposals to shift resources to local and regional commodity procurement. The signatory organizations were comprised almost exclusively of the iron triangle of US food aid spending recipients (the US agribusiness, shipping, and international development industries). Funding, which is attached to the Farm Bill, has been reauthorized by President Obama under Title VII of the fiscal cliff legislation through this September. However, these food aid programs depend on congressional appropriations, which have only been approved through March 27th. Big changes, or more of the same, could be in store for food aid legislation in the near future.