Social Sector Innovation Funds Can Help Young People and Their Families

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Over the next decade America will face enormous social and economic shifts, driven by budget constraints at all levels of government, significant demographic changes, and an increasingly globally competitive, changing workforce. Our nation will have less money for services at the same time there will be greater demand from a larger, older, and more diverse population than ever before. Young people and their families will be especially vulnerable in the face of these challenges, just at a point in their lives when they need to be gaining the critical education and other skills needed for life-long success.

To significantly improve outcomes for young people and their families in the context of this constrained fiscal environment and these other mounting demands, we must focus on improving the ways in which taxpayer dollars are spent. The federal government must identify and invest in “what works” to be a catalyst for and investor in effective and innovative solutions that produce greater social impact in the key arenas that will determine our country’s future competitiveness—education, economic opportunity, workforce development, and youth development. While the current public debate largely has been about more or less resources, it also is critical to focus on how to get better results with existing resources.

Social sector innovation funds—those funds that focus on developing and scaling promising and potentially transformative community-based approaches that solve critical social problems—are one example of how the federal government is increasingly driving public dollars toward investing in what works.

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