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The Latest Corporate Social Responsibility News: Signs of Change: New Presidential Office Promotes Social Innovation

Submitted by: CSRwire

Categories: Events, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jun 24, 2009 – 12:00 AM EST


Jun. 24 /CSRwire/ - June 23, 2009 -

By CSRwire Contributing Writer Bill Baue of Sea Change Media

The design President Obama is implementing in re-structuring the Executive Office of the President signals a new set of priorities for the country. Take climate change, for example. While the Bush Administration “essentially suppressed” climate science, such as the 2000 National Assessment report, the Obama Administration created the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and last week launched to host the new “game-changingGlobal Climate Change Impacts report.

The Obama Administration also created the Office of Social Innovation to promote social entrepreneurship, an arena that is experiencing a “bull market” as the broader economy tanks. Sonal Shah, the newly appointed director, brings her experience designing’s global development strategy and Goldman Sachs’ environmental strategy. One of her first major appearances will be keynoting the Social Capital Markets Conference (or SoCap09), which is quickly becoming the Woodstock for social entrepreneurs.

One of the high-profile activities of the Social Innovation Office will be disbursing a $50-million social-innovation fund proposed in Obama’s 2010 budget, as announced by the First Lady Michelle Obama last month. However, most of Shah’s work will be less glamorous and more arduous, requiring her to network across different agencies to “catalyze partnerships between the government and nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropists.”

“We can bring someone from health care, someone from the social-innovation fund, and someone from education together to have a conversation about doing things similarly across the board and working across agencies,” Shah said in an interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “As we see ideas that may not necessarily fit into one agency or another, we can also help direct and create partnerships that might not otherwise have existed.”

Following Shah’s keynote address at SoCap09, she will speak on a panel about how to scale social innovation programs, and the challenges for-profit social enterprises face when accessing government funds. Officials in the Social Innovation Office will participate in all three days of the conference, including the final day of community-driven sessions.

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