Stephen Goldsmith and Sonal Shah discuss social innovation and the ideas that could change the world.
“For every problem out there, there’s a social innovator somewhere who knows how to fix it,” said Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and author of The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good (Jossey-Bass), speaking at an Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series event at the Institute. Deputy assistant to the president, director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, Sonal Shah, a Henry Crown Fellow of the Institute, agreed. “In some cases, we need good ideas. In other cases, we need to take good ideas and grow them.”
At the event, sponsored in partnership with the Case Foundation, Goldsmith and Shah discussed galvanizing government agencies, governors, and mayors to create a marketplace of dynamic ideas for communities across the country. Goldsmith serves as chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service which together with Shah’s social innovation office oversees a $50 million Innovation Fund. Shah and Goldsmith are hoping to use the fund to identify the best ideas for change out there.
“We are looking for impactful organizations that offer transformational opportunities,” said Shah. Goldsmith agreed and noted the difference between service and social enterprise: “Social entrepreneurs build pipelines between people who want to serve and people who need services,” he said. “Social innovators are creative leaders with a passion for social change.”
Still, Shah was excited about how many young people are flocking to service organizations these days, because “service trains you to think.” A former Google.org director of global development, Shah found herself interviewing prospective employees at Google and asking herself: Is this person “creative enough to solve the problem?” She often found that those who had worked with a service group like AmeriCorps were.