Social Innovation Needs Funding


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Social Innovation Needs Funding

  1. 1. CBC: Social innovation needs funding: expert Page 1 of 2 September 24, 2010Social innovation needs funding: expertBy Daniel McHardie,CBC NewsSocial innovation must turn into a top priority for the next New Brunswick government if theprovince is going to tackle its most pressing problems, an expert says.Social innovation must turn into a top priority for the next New Brunswick government if the province is going to tackleits most pressing problems, an expert says.Tim Coates, executive director of 21inc., said the importance of spurring social innovation in New Brunswick has beenignored during the provincial election campaign."Given the convergence of challenges facing New Brunswick - from poverty and illiteracy to demographic shifts andlimited economic opportunities - whoever forms our next government should make the province fertile ground for socialinnovation," Coates said."Moreover, with the era of constrained public spending upon us, social innovation can increase our impact againstthese challenges eve with limited resources."Coatess organization, 21inc., is a non-profit organization that designed to encourage more young Atlantic Canadianentrepreneurs, said there are three policy changes a new government could implement to push the social innovationagenda forward: Setting up a New Brunswick Social Innovation Foundation. Mandating departments to invest one per cent of their budgets in social innovation. Challenging fundraising efforts by matching funds over a specific threshold.The Harlem, N.Y.,-based Baby College is one example Coates cited as an innovative program that is helping addressa social problem.The initiative, which is run by the Harlem Childrens Zone, is intended to help children read. The program starts withparents before their children are born and stays with them until after the child until the child turns three.Coates said 81 per cent of parents who attended Baby College now read to their children more often. And all of thechildren who participated in the program were reading at or higher than their grade levels.Social innovation foundationThe social innovation foundation would be tasked with helping fund and grow groups that are trying to improve societythrough new initiatives. 1/20/2011
  2. 2. CBC: Social innovation needs funding: expert Page 2 of 2The foundation should be independent and it could take the place of the provinces Community Non-profitOrganizations Secretariat, Coates writes.Another role for the social innovation foundation would be to ignite more government transformation, he said.Coates said there are always legitimate concerns with accountability and is biased toward projects with "knownoutcomes."But he said with social innovation there is some "experimentation" and "uncertainty."Challenge grantsCoates is also recommending the innovation foundation take a concept from the New Brunswick InnovationFoundation, which works with other levels of government, universities and the private sector to fund innovativeprojects.He said a system of "challenge grants" should be established so if a non-profit group can raise a specific amount ofmoney, the foundation would match that amount."Challenge grants would also signal to other stakeholders that this organization has the NBSIF seal of approval for itsability to make an impact," he writes.The New Brunswick government could also be a leader in social innovation by funding it, Coates writes.The Center for American Progress has proposed that each U.S. department set aside one per cent of its budget to bechanneled into a social innovation fund.Coates said a similar proposal would work in New Brunswick."The fund would be used to support innovation initiatives both inside and outside government," Coates writes. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC News 2010. Permission granted for up to 5 copies. All rights reserved. You may forward this article or get additional permissions by typing socal-innovation-election-956.html into any web browser. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and CBC logos are registered trademarksof Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . The iCopyright logo is a registered trademark of iCopyright, Inc. 1/20/2011