Funding social innovation

David Brooks’s column today in the New York Times has a great idea:

Create a network of social entrepreneurship investment banks. These regionally operated semi-public funds would invest in the best local community organizations, so they could bring their ideas to scale.
These funds, first proposed by the group America Forward, would supplement the safety net and employ college grads entering a miserable job market. They’d have a powerful psychological effect on a country that desperately wants to feel mobilized and united.

America Forward is promoting the idea of “results-oriented, entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations” for solving social problems:

America Forward’s vision is that one day, our leaders and citizens will work together to foster innovation in the social sector, identify what works, and grow the best solutions to wherever they are needed. Our objectives are two-fold: 1) to introduce social entrepreneurship into the national dialogue, helping to fuel a discussion about new, more effective ways to solve domestic problems; and 2) to advance a policy agenda that will create an infrastructure for social entrepreneurs and government to act together to scale the impact of solutions that work.

While this initiative focused on innovation in the social services area, it can foster a broader understanding of innovation in general. Making all parts of the economy more innovative, non-profits included, should be the goal of policy in the I-Cubed Economy.
By the way, the Brooks column also highlights a number of the suggestions from Michael Porter from his Business Week article last month (see my earlier posting on this and other stimulus ideas).

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