Obama Makes Social Innovation Real

April 24, 2009 at 2:28 am 1 comment

The opening panel for the SVN member gathering saw SVN members Greg Nelson from the White House, Jonathan Greenblatt, Obama transition team manager and founder of Ethos Water, and Elliot Hoffman, co-founder of Just Desserts who runs New Voice for Business. In addition to talking about the need for a new political voice for progressive business, Jonathan announced some exciting and inspiring new initiatives the Administration is making in the field of social innovation.

Jonathan GreenblattJonathan Greenblatt: What’s happening inside the Obama administration is completely aligned with what SVN members stand for. President Obama is big on civic engagement, national service, and social entrepreneurship. He emphasized the idea of social innovation, about looking for partnerships between non-profits and business to drive an agenda of change for the country.

One early idea of the Administration was to create a White House Office of Social Innovation, that could provide clear leadership and focus a consistent voice for change. This office was just created last week! The CEO, Sonal Shah, is a social entrepreneur herself who founded an organization sending service volunteers to South Asia, and who was also a CSR manager at large global firms like Goldman Sachs and Google.org. The office’s second in command is a fellow of Ashoka. These are people from this community who get it.

There are 3 main priorities of the new Office:

  • use technology to accelerate and explore innovation
  • work with innovative NPO’s, state and local government to drive innovation at the local level
  • promote service

The new Serve.gov website

On the service front, some of you may have heard that this week they launched a new portal: Serve.gov. This is the first time where one place shows all the good work and opportunities for involvement from the administration and others. This site was created with the help of an SVN member who is here tonight, Joseph Mouzon from Network for Good).

Again just this week, Obama signed into law the EF Kennedy “Serve America Act”, which triples the size of the Peace Corps and Americorps. These are the biggest public service program increases since their founding, 30 years ago.

Finally they also launched the creation of a new $200M social innovation fund. This is intended to be catalytic capital applied to innovative non profits helping solve social problems in local communities. It’s like a VC fund focused on creating a virtuous cycle of social change in local communities.

This kind of focus, attention and resources have never been seen coming at these ideas. It’s up to SVN members and our peers to continueto make sure good things happen with these resources and to keep driving for change here. But these are exciting and hopeful times indeed, and SVN’s ideas and members are a natural fit with the priorities of the new Administration.

Entry filed under: Member Stories, SV Business News, Talks and Workshops. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. stuart rudick  |  May 20, 2009 at 8:22 am

    very encouraging actions and news. please tell me more or where to learn about the Social Innovation Fund to direct groups to this funding source. Thanks!!


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April 2009

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