A Look at the Social Innovation Office
by Amanda Adams*
Jun 4, 2009
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has an interview with Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Sonal Shah, who heads the new White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. The office is now up and running, yet as the Chronicle ($$) notes; "it has never been formally unveiled." The goals of the office were detailed in a statement announcing that the president was proposing $50 million in his 2010 budget for a social-innovation fund.
The office will be working with the Corporation for National and Community Service to set up the social-innovation fund, and essentially provide seed money for the most innovative ideas. According to the Chronicle, for "the 'civic participation' part of its name, the office is exploring ways to use the White House Web site to encourage people to get involved in solving social problems. It is also working with the White House Office of Public Engagement and others to encourage people to volunteer over the summer."
Rick Cohen comments on the President's budget in relation to the nonprofit sector, including "the much ballyhooed Social Innovation Fund."
"Many entrepreneurial leaders of the nonprofit sector toil for small organizations in out-of-the-mainstream locales. They may not be in line to get much from the Social Innovation Fund unless they are willing to sign up as local affiliates of the designated national innovators. It would be important for the administrators of the fund to ensure that they make special effort to find innovation wherever it occurs in the nonprofit sector-and to build the networks and 'infrastructure' that support and sustain nonprofit innovation."back to Blog