Presidential 2016: Social Innovators Play a Vital Role in Addressing Our Nation’s Most Pressing Challenges (New Profit)

Thanks to the persistence of social innovators across the country, every day we see strategies that are working and delivering results in a rapidly changing world. This ongoing blog series will highlight the voices of our Coalition of 70+ social innovators and their innovative solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems as well as examples of how this powerful work can be transformed into national change.

The following post was written by, Juanita Tolliver, Manager, America Forward.

Social innovators are integral to creating pathways to opportunity within communities across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again in the work of our more than 70 America Forward Coalition organizations that are driving progress in education, youth development, workforce development, poverty alleviation, criminal justice, and government efficiency in communities across the nation every day.

For example, consider how Family Independence Initiative (FII) empowers low-income families in Oakland and other cities, to take control of their economic and social circumstances and become role models and small business owners in their communities. During their engagement with FII, on average, families increased their savings by 120% and their earnings by 24%, and 30% of FII families start a small business.

How organizations like Third Sector Capital Partners (Third Sector) develops partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit organizations to leverage Pay for Success models in programs in Massachusetts, Ohio and other states around the nation. In fact, Third Sector led the project construction and financing for Massachusetts’ $28 million Juvenile Justice Pay for Success Initiative, in collaboration with Roca, another Coalition member that creates pathways to academic, economic, and personal success through their engagement with at-risk young adults.

And how Beyond12 leverages technology and data via its student tracking platform, virtual coaching model, and mobile app to ease the transition from high school to college, and to inform decision making by sharing its powerful data with K-12 institutions and colleges. Beyond12 is currently tracking the postsecondary progress of over 50,000 college students, coaching close to 2,000 students, and 82% of students who graduated high school in 2011 and received coaching persisted to their third year of college, compared to a 59% national third year persistence rate.

As the 2016 presidential election cycle continues to unfold, let’s move past partisanship to lift up the work of social innovators and community-based organizations and the invaluable role that they play as the fiber of local communities, as a resource and partner to government and businesses, and as the creators of pathways to opportunity for Americans. Let’s expand the national conversation to discuss the 8 million lives that are touched by our Coalition members every year. Let’s have a dialogue about the measurable outcomes that our Coalition members are achieving in more than 14,500 communities every day. Let’s remind the presidential candidates that communities know exactly what they need, and that it’s time to empower community-based organizations and social innovators as they lead the way tounlocking America’s potential.

This is a year of opportunity for this country, and along with the presidential election, 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for grabs. The time is ripe for us to activate America’s problem solvers to influence the 2016 election cycle and the national dialogue to ensure that every child will grow up in America with the opportunity to create a successful life, and that every person trying to turn his or her life around will be given a second chance.

Now’s the time for us to change the national conversation and fill our timelines and newsfeeds with stories about the lives impacted by our efforts, the local solutions that we’re scaling across the country, and the capacity that we’re injecting into the social sector ecosystem.

Follow our 2016 Presidential blog series to learn more about the local solutions that are waiting to be tapped and scaled by the next president, and join the conversation. Share your innovative solutions and tell us what works in your community on Twitter with #AFPresidential16.