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