Today was a landmark day for anyone interested in improving the way we address social problems in Massachusetts. In a ceremony at Year Up this morning, I joined Governor Deval Patrick along with Vanessa Kirsch and Kim Syman from New Profit, Inc. and a group of over 40 nonprofit leaders including Jumpstart, Playworks, Year Up, and City Year in signing a “Social Innovation Compact” that outlines a new partnership between government and social innovators in the state. You can find a press release of the event here, plus photos, more photos, and videos.
The compact is an exciting and necessary step toward bringing the nonprofit, philanthropic, business, and government sectors together to move the bar on pressing social issues in the areas of economic development, education, the environment, health and health care, and youth, family, and elderly issues. In an op-ed I wrote in the Boston Business Journal almost a year ago calling for an Office of Social Innovation in the Massachusetts, I said that, too often, innovative and proven approaches already operate in our communities, but are not given the support they need from government. The state has the potential to help the promising ones extend their reach and have far greater impact by putting new policies, systems, and resources into place.
Here is what the compact commits the administration and the nonprofit sector to do:
The Commonwealth has agreed to:
- Welcome social innovation organizations with vision and experience in improving the lives of citizens
- Initiate a conversation with providers on the potential for unprecedented action and new approaches on infrastructure and government operations
- Commit to exploring the application of new, results-driven solutions to persistent problems that have gone unsolved despite repeated efforts and partnerships
- Explore new opportunities to take better advantage of locally cultivated talent directed at educating and caring for residents
- Provide new supports to promote the work of social innovation partners to reach a larger group of residents in need of assistance
The Social Innovators have agreed to:
- Engage in an active problem-solving dialogue with the leaders of state government
- Provide consulting services to government agencies to build the Commonwealth’s portfolio of social innovation initiatives and reach more residents
- Supply support, guidance and management for select projects based on the needs of residents
- Serve as a central point of contact for all potential national and local social innovation initiatives
- Channel information to the Governor and his cabinet regarding opportunities for Massachusetts on these opportunities as appropriate
There are many examples of the nonprofits that would be able to do much more with such support. Year Up has developed an exciting and successful training program for urban young adults to close the opportunity divide by providing them with professional skills, college credits, and corporate internships. Strong Women, Strong Girls, a program founded by a visionary college student, uses the study of female role models and a creative mentoring program to build self-esteem and leadership skills among at-risk girls in grades 3-5.
In our work at Root Cause, we have identified many more examples of organizations with promising new ideas through our Social Innovation Forum. Our recent reports on school readiness and the best organizations working on the issue in MA have inaugurated a new methodology for using data to find the highest-performing organizations with proven approaches to their social issue. And our partner in today’s signing at the State House, New Profit Inc., is supporting a portfolio of leading nonprofits that are working to dramatically improve opportunities for children, families, and communities.
Today is just a beginning. There is much more for all of us to do to leverage the work of these organizations to better address every Massachusetts resident’s basic needs. I applaud Governor Patrick for having the vision to play a leadership role in that work.
|Share |||Previous Post | Next Post|