Obama’s effort to address Social Innovation

I had previously written about the impending Service Act and President Obama’s editorial support for this legislation.

Well the day finally arrived when this legislation was signed into law by the President. On April 21, 2009, at a signing ceremony attended by Senator Edward Kennedy, after whom the act is named, President Obama said:

“We’re doing this because I’ve always believed that the answers to our challenges cannot come from government alone.”

“Our government can help to rebuild our economy and lift up our schools and reform health-care systems and make sure our soldiers and veterans have everything they need. But we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families.”

As part of the legislation, a new White House Office of Social Innovation has been created. Sonal Shah, most recently heading Google.org’s global development programs has been tapped to head the office. While we await the official announcement, philanthropy sites have been eagerly abuzz with the news.

Yesterday, Sonal addressed the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington DC, where she was listed as “Deputy Assistant to the President and Director Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation”. In her remarks to the audience, she outlined the three key areas the new office would focus on.

  • To find out “what are the innovations that are taking place”
  • To provide money to innovative nonprofit projects
  • To promote national service and volunteerism

You can find more information about her talk and additional conjecture about the plans for this office at the Chronicle of Philanthropy site.

Sonal’s experience in the private sector and her work with non-profits together with the charter of the new office, provides innovative social entrepreneurs with a new opportunity for funding and support.

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