After registering the fastest growth among Latin America’s major economies in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the World Bank reclassified Peru as an upper middle-income country. Yet its human development and education indices have struggled to improve in parallel with per capita income. With overseas development assistance (ODA) shifting resources outside the country, local philanthropists sought to fill the social investment gap. What philanthropic and social investment models are emerging in Peru, and what lessons do they offer for other countries caught in the middle-income social investment trap? We base our responses on an original quantitative and qualitative survey of 157 philanthropic organisations in Peru’s 10 largest cities. Given the size of philanthropic spending relative to the country’s public education budget, the ability to strategically leverage investments becomes even more critical to generate impact at scale.