Friday, September 5, 2008

Funding Social Entrepreneurs

A crucial part of the proposal of the LampStand Foundation to help create effective reentry programs for reforming criminals is to support the development of reentry programs managed by reformed criminals—in a twist on the old adage that “it takes a thief to catch a thief”—it takes a reformed criminal to reform criminals.

Key to this support is providing financial support to those initial entrepreneurial programs developed by reformed criminals, properly evaluate the results, then determine if they are worth replicating on a larger scale.

This type of support is something looked at in this interview in the Stanford Social Innovation Review with David Gergen.

An excerpt.

“David Gergen is one of America’s best-known political pundits. And well he should be. Having spent three decades as advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, Gergen knows as much about what goes on inside the Beltway as anyone.

“What most people don’t know is that Gergen is also an astute observer of social innovation. From his perch at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (where he is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership), Gergen has taken an active role in not just studying social entrepreneurship, but also championing it.

“One of the things Gergen has done recently is to encourage social entrepreneurs to become more active in national politics. Last year, he helped launch America Forward, a nonpartisan coalition of about 60 nonprofits (including City Year, Jumpstart, Teach for America, and BUILD) that are attempting to get the federal government more engaged with nonprofits in developing innovative solutions to social problems. America Forward is developing public policy in this area and trying to get presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to adopt the coalition’s ideas.

“In this interview with James A. Phills Jr., the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s academic editor, Gergen discusses his views on social innovation, why social entrepreneurs should be more engaged in politics, and how the federal government can work with and even fund social entrepreneurs.”