Obama’s pledge for social innovation

On June 30, President Obama announced his pledge to support social innovation from the “bottom up.” As a community organizer in Chicago, he learned that the some of the best solutions exist at the grassroots level.

The president added that we need to bring the most promising community-based solutions to scale by expanding successful programs and developing other high potential solutions with a strong emphasis on measuring results and impact. “People don’t need somebody out in Washington to tell them how to solve their problems, especially when the best solutions are often right there in their own neighborhoods, just waiting to be discovered,” said Obama.

As reported earlier this year by The Chronicle on Philanthropy, the White House is looking for “new ideas” and “new models” but innovation does not necessarily imply new nonprofits or programs. “It’s about impact and effectiveness,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. In Tuesday’s announcement, Obama said that he will be asking Barnes to travel across the country to “discover and evaluate the very best programs in our communities.”

The $50-million fund for social innovation is part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The funds were authorized by the national service law in April 2009, but the funds still need approval by Congress in the fiscal year 2010 budget.

More coverage:

Update on Philanthropy This Week (audio)
Posted: Tue, 14 Jul 2009

Social Innovation Fund and Spending Down Your Endowment

Corporation for National & Community Service
Posted: July 2009

FAQ – Social Innovation Fund – Shows how and when to apply (PDF)