We believe government of the 21st century has the potential to harness the power of social innovation.
Government can spark new, more powerful ways to tap the expertise and resources of the private and philanthropic sectors, and serve as a leader in creating new partnerships that enable communities to identify and grow the strongest solutions to our social challenges.
At the federal, state, and local levels, government is by far the greatest source of funding aimed at many of our most persistent and widespread problems. In education, workforce development, public health, and other areas of urgent concern, we are limiting the ability of innovative solutions to transform our communities by keeping them outside the set of approaches that receive public financing. Forging a Deep Partnership between Government and Social Innovators
Our policy strategy seeks to forge and deepen a partnership between government and social innovators. We aspire to create an environment in which government leverages cross-sector support to identify and invest in growing innovative and efficient solutions to complex social problems. A set of policymaking principles guides this approach:
- Scale Proven Programs: End ineffective investments and overall investment inertia and open doors for new, high-impact organizations to receive the resources they need. This includes identifying ways to measure what works and allowing for regular competition for resources in the nonprofit sector.
- Inspire Innovation: Social problem solving requires a system of research and development, testing, application, and scaling similar to the system that exists in the private sector.
- Make Markets: Tackle the barriers that prevent nonprofits from accessing human and financial capital.
- Engage Everyone: Make public dollars go farther by leveraging private-sector resources, engaging in partnerships, and inspiring a commitment to service among all citizens.
At the core of our effort is America Forward
, a non-partisan initiative that works with policymakers, legislators, and thought leaders to identify ways to combine public and private resources with the effectiveness and impact of America's social innovators. We have advanced this initiative through the leadership of a coalition of more than 90 results-oriented, entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations.
America Forward launched in December 2007 to fuel a nationwide discussion about more innovative ways to solve social problems. It has advanced a bi-partisan policy agenda to create the infrastructure to expand innovative solutions. Throughout the 2008 presidential election, the America Forward coalition met with every major presidential campaign from both parties including Clinton, McCain, Obama, and Romney, to introduce them to the high-impact approaches of social entrepreneurs.
During 2009, marked by the passage of legislation and the commitment of the President and domestic policy team, America Forward achieved its initial goals: creation by President Obama of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation; and, through the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, creation of a social innovation fund in government, and the scaling of national service more than three-fold. As we continue to advance this effort, we will focus on growing these pilot efforts across government into a sustainable new system for solving social problems.