Fighting Poverty through Social Innovation

How do you nurture the best approaches to getting communities out of poverty? How can we abandon strategies that don't yield results, and grow the...
by | March 22, 2010

How do you nurture the best approaches to getting communities out of poverty? How can we abandon strategies that don't yield results, and grow the strategies that do?

This fascinating column in the Huffington Post by Stephen Goldsmith offers some counter-intuitive ideas that could dramatically transform struggling neighborhoods.

Drawn from his new book, The Power of Social Innovation, Goldsmith shows how it is possible to encourage communities to support civic entrepreneurs who are looking for new ways of fighting poverty.

Says Goldmsith:

"Transformation requires executing change across entire systems calcified by the momentum of the status quo, by political wrangling, and by a stunning lack of mechanisms for input from, or accountability to, the individuals we're trying to help.

Government officials must also do their part. They can open the space for innovation by reevaluating rules and policies that protect incumbents, supporting capacity building among small yet effective providers, and using capital to create room for social "R&D." Those responsible for spending taxpayer dollars - a city councilor or state legislator as often as the head of a human service agency - should also make decisions based on measurable results and real impact instead of good intentions or political maneuvering. The same is true for those controlling philanthropic foundations' dollars."

The column, which originally appeared in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity , highlights two efforts that have helped people in need gain greater access to employment and to healthy food.

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