The Executive Case for Social Innovation

Published on May 7th, 2009 | by

Yesterday the White House announced President Obama’s 2010 request to Congress for $50 million to set up a Social Innovation Fund with the goal of identifying the most promising results-oriented non-profit programs in order to expand their reach throughout the country.

Taking a page from his grass-roots leadership style, Obama’s announcement of the request continues to drive home a message that change will come from the individuals who make up the communities they live in.  The request for seed capital to identify and foster those efforts will come in parallel to an administration re-looking at policy areas to enable new approaches.

During the Time’s 100 Most Influential People awards in New York City on Tuesday night, Michelle Obama spoke about the intent of the fund. “Events like this one show how truly connected our world is; how one person’s invention can create an entirely new economy; how one person can change how we see the world.”

Whether Congress will approve this or just how those funds will get used is another story, but the message of innovation and entrepreneurship is a flag amidst an economy looking for creative solutions and messages of hope.

Presidents typically make appeals for service and aid but this particular request is unique in that it speaks to resolving social problems through non-traditional mechanisms with proven results.  It does not say volunteer to make the world a better place. This is not a blanket check to support a specific issue.  Rather the creation of the fund suggests that developing new ideas and new structures across many different issues is dependent on our participation and necessary to our economic and social recovery.

image credit: Seetwist on Creative Commons


About the Author

Kelli Peterson is a brand and communications strategist with 20 years of professional experience in the corporate and non-profit world. Kelli is the founder of The Change Project, a collaborative consultancy focused on creating value and positive social impact through the power of brand. Kelli is a sometimes blogger, an avid world traveler and passionate about creating change.
  • Tks for this.

    While I applaud this move, it still feels like too little. If we consider all the money the administration is currently slinging around to prop up corporate bondholders…this just feels like “chump” CHANGE. Where is the real CHANGE we seek?

    –Ryan

  • Tks for this.

    While I applaud this move, it still feels like too little. If we consider all the money the administration is currently slinging around to prop up corporate bondholders…this just feels like “chump” CHANGE. Where is the real CHANGE we seek?

    –Ryan