Listening to Inclusive Innovators

The Center for Urban Innovation’s Listening to Inclusive Innovators blog series highlights the stories of practitioners doing the hard and critical work of inclusion and listening to the people they are trying to serve.  One of our first projects at the Center for Urban Innovation was to convene about 30 leaders of businesses and non-profits, government officials, and philanthropic grantmakers in a working group on the topic of inclusive innovation.  Our goal was to learn more about how people implement inclusive innovation in their own organizations.  Over the course of three convenings, the group identified four high-priority topics: values, tools, co-creation and civic engagement.

This blog series features interviews with working group members and other practitioners, in which they share how values, tools, co-creation, and civic engagement play out in their work.  Over and over, our working group members said, “None of this matters if we don’t start with values.”  These interviews showcase the conflicts that can arise when leading with values, the tools, both tech-enabled and non-tech-enabled, that practitioners use in their work, what it means to truly work with communities as opposed to for them, and a multitude of ways to define and implement effective civic engagement. 

We are grateful to the Citi Foundation, a vital early supporter of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Aspen Institute, for investing in this work.  With the Citi Foundation’s help, the Center convened leading-edge practitioners to develop a shared set of principles to guide a cross-sector approach to inclusive innovation in low- and middle-income neighborhoods, and to determine how the Aspen Institute could support this practice.