Social Innovation in Washington, D.C.

On June 30, 2009, foundation heads, business leaders, and leading social entrepreneurs—including icons like Geoffrey Canada, Bill Drayton, and Dorothy Stoneman—gathered in the East Room of the White House to hear President Obama challenge the nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sectors to create a “new kind of partnership” that would lead to the most innovative, effective solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges. Given the historic magnitude of today’s problems, President Obama recognized that the federal government’s traditional approach and pace would not drive the dramatic progress that is needed in our communities. He said that the work of the country’s most effective nonprofits and foundations “is important in any year. But at this particular moment, when we’re facing challenges unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetime, it’s absolutely critical, because … let’s face it, there’s only so much that Washington can do.” The president said, “Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results-oriented solutions” in communities and “helping them replicate their efforts across America.”

This article was originally published in Stanford Social Innovation Review.