As we continue to tackle our nation’s great challenges, we know that many of the best, most lasting solutions are already being developed in communities across the country. Local answers to our national challenges originate everywhere.
The best solutions are often driven by everyday Americans who are having an impact but need capital to improve their results, grow, and replicate their solutions so that they can serve more communities. Solutions like, for example, the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC). LAYC has grown from a small grassroots recreation center to a nationally recognized organization serving low-income youth and families across the District of Columbia and in Maryland. Every day LAYC works with vulnerable young people and their families to improve academic achievement and build stronger, healthier lives. We know that government must partner with philanthropists and the private sector to support – not supplant – solutions like LAYC and others that are being developed in communities across the nation.
One year ago, at the Time 100 Awards, the First Lady announced the creation of a new $50 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF), which is part of the President’s commitment to invest in results-oriented solutions around the country. On June 30th, 2009, at an event at the White House, the President also called on our nation's foundations to partner with the Administration to invest in solutions that have the potential to grow and address the needs of more communities across the country.
Today, we highlighted the initial round of commitments from philanthropists to match the Social Innovation Fund and make other investments in innovative community solutions. In addition, an independent coalition of more than 20 of the nation’s leading national and regional funders have created the “Scaling What Works” initiative, a complementary set of investments led by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) to extend the reach and impact of the Social Innovation Fund and similar efforts to help high-impact nonprofits succeed. The Council on Foundations also released a letter signed by more than 130 heads of community foundations from across the country that signaled their support for the Social Innovation Fund and the Administration’s agenda to investment in community solutions.
Today’s event shows how the government is doing business differently: finding solutions outside of Washington, DC; investing in innovations that can have a big impact and have the potential to grow; and partnering with the private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to address the toughest problems we face.
These efforts are just the beginning of how we seek to turn community solutions into national solutions.
Melody Barnes is Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council