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Thu, May

Issue 51 | Greater Seattle's Social Innovation, Social Enterprises, and Public/Private Partnerships

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Dear Reader,

The Social Innovations Journal is driven by the belief that the potential for good ideas to inspire more good ideas cannot be underestimated. The value that social sector partnerships, entrepreneurs, and innovators bring to local communities and regions across the nation cannot be underestimated.

We believe one way to harness and advance this energy is through curating REGIONAL SOCIAL INNOVATION ECOSYSTEMS by sourcing/publishing regional social innovations, social enterprises, and public private partnerships. For this reason, The Social Innovations Journal has joined forces with Impact Hub Seattle, Client Accelerator for Conscious Entrepreneurs, Social Venture Partners Seattle, Seattle Impact Investing Group, City of Seattle Innovation and Performance, and Fledge to publish a Special Edition highlighting Greater Seattle’s SOCIAL INNOVATION, SOCIAL ENTERPRISES, AND PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS. This edition showcases Greater Seattle’s most innovative solutions to solve society’s toughest problems.   

This issue holds special relevance related to how two cities can share knowledge as it comes on the heel’s of a symposium held last month that included an incredibly diverse group of 145 cross-sector Philadelphia leaders who traveled to Seattle for the Economy League’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (aka “GPLEX”), to study how the Emerald City works, moves, lives, thrives -- and how it deals with major challenges. Seattle has incredible wealth and a political system and culture conducive to collaborating with other communities to solve public problems. We applaud Seattle’s collective work that together is developing a pragmatic approach that finds points of common ground and leverages assets to advance social impact.   

Demonstrating the value of sharing good ideas to inspire more good ideas we look at some of the benefits provided to Philadelphia leaders.  

“The coming together cements us, sharpens our ability to problem solve. The ROI is higher because we get to know Philly’s leadership, our collective self-reliance increases because we know our context.” – Beth Miller, Executive Director, Community Design Collaborative

“You know what’s the most important thing to me? Data. Data I did not have before. I am more informed.” – David Grasso, CEO Grasso Holdings

"I’ve walked away energized and determined to see how I can be part of the solutions that may enable us to apply some of the lessons observed into lessons learned and acted upon." – Michael Mittleman, President, Salus University

Read more in the introductory article by Jeff Hornstein of Greater Philadelphia Economy League and Vanessa Briggs of Brandywine Community Health Foundation. 

Across the globe, and in Seattle, there has been a rapid rise in the number of social sector innovators and entrepreneurs who want to find innovative ways to solve or “move the needle” on society’s problems, and they are increasingly deploying the methods of business and private capital if that helps them to do so. They include people in the social sector who can now tap the markets for finance in addition to seeking grants from donors, and philanthropists who are willing to fund innovative ideas and businesses driven by social entrepreneurs and social sector organizations if they offer a greater likelihood of achieving the social impact they desire. The force capable of driving a social sector revolution is Seattle’s social innovation, enterprise, and partnerships that harness innovation, entrepreneurship, partnerships and capital to power social impact. 

We hope this edition (article summaries are below) will achieve our mission to inspire leaders and organizations to dream; create the space for leaders to tap into their own creativity to innovate; endow leaders with the tools and knowledge to launch and grow their ideas; challenge leaders to become better versions of themselves; and transform leaders and their companies.   

Yours in innovation,

Nicholas Torres
Tine Hansen-Turton
SIJ Co-Founders


“Greater Seattle's Social Innovation, Social Enterprises, and Public/Private Partnerships” 

Article Summaries 


What Could Be Possible If the Successful Americans Choose Connection Over Comparison?

Nate Bochsler, JD

Too often the successful people in America are caught in a never-ending rat race where no matter how much they acquire, they are no happier. We can shift them and consequently a large segment of the population if they realize they can be happier if they start to connect to humanity rather than compare. Through self-compassion and loving kindness meditation humanity will start to connect rather than compare as is the current case through our damaged lens of self-esteem. By taking a unique approach to transforming our society by addressing the needs of the successful rather than the unsuccessful we can impact larger numbers more quickly.


Empowering Diverse and Environmentally Sustainable Communities Starts with Engagement from Within

William Chen, ECOSS

Immigrants and refugees make up almost 20% of Seattle’s population. Yet these communities are some of the most underserved by environmental initiatives. Long-time Seattle residents may intuitively understand the safety of their drinking water or where to find information on hiking. But language, cultural and lifestyle differences prevent immigrants and refugees from accessing the same public services, education and opportunities. ECOSS’ New Arrivals program changes this dynamic via community-centered multicultural outreach. We build trust with communities by engaging them in their language and respecting their diversity. We build effective partnerships with public and private agencies that are committed to environmental justice and equity. And we empower immigrant and refugee communities to lead their own unique outdoors trips, connect with their environment and become environmentally resilient.


To Fund or Not to Fund: THAT is the Question

Anna Choi

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a staggering 92 percent of U.S. businesses are microbusinesses -- defined as a business with one to five employees, counting the owner.

Despite this vast majority, many investors assume that all startups want to be the next household brand. Therefore, funding is required to build and hire the right team to eventually exit the business with a sale, acquisition, or initial public offering, and 10x the investor’s return. This is where the current funding paradigm falls short.

Yet, Microbusinesses (which studies show are mostly comprised of young people, women, and/or minorities) often don’t want to exit. They may not even want a team. They want the income and freedom that allows them to spend time with their family or travel. They are far away from the typical startup founder spending hours and hours hustling to make the next do-or-die round of funding.


Spend Like It Matters: Leveraging Consumer Spending Toward a More Inclusive Economy

Laura Clise, Founder & CEO, Intentionalist

We are all familiar with the link between consumer spending and the health of the economy, but what role might consumer spending play toward a more inclusive economy? Rapid growth and gentrification in cities from New York, to San Francisco, to Seattle and beyond have given rise to questions regarding the extent to which rising economic prosperity is or is not equitable and inclusive. In the exploration of how to facilitate more inclusive economic growth, consumer spending is an underleveraged potential driver due to the opacity consumers face when trying to decipher who benefits from the money they spend. Intentionalist is a social enterprise technology startup working to bridge the gap between the growing number of consumers who want to support the diverse local businesses that shape our communities and their ability to easily find and support them.


This Seattle-based Organization Proves that Skilled Volunteers Make a Real Impact, at Home and Abroad

Mark Horoszowski, co-founder & CEO,

In the past five years there has been a firestorm against “voluntourists” as report after report demonstrates that when people pay to volunteer their skills overseas, they often create more harm than good. This is not only true for volunteering, but really, for much of philanthropy. While many backed away from voluntourism to avoid the bad press, our startup social enterprise leaned into this issue, analyzing every stage of the process: How do you find organizations that actually want volunteers? How do you filter organizations that will truly benefit from hosting volunteers? How do you select volunteers with the right know-how and motivations? How do you ensure that matches turn into productive relationships? How do prepare both parties for these cross-cultural experiences? How do you track impact so you can keep improving the way you match, prepare, and support both parties?


What’s Data Got to Do with It? Combined Sewage Overflows and Community Action

Suzie Housley, Ph.D., StormSensor, Inc.

Combined sewage systems (CSSs), in which rain and sanitary sewage are mixed together and discharged into local waters, are one of the leading sources of water pollution in the United States. The sources of this pollution are, to a large extent, controlled—and contributed—by the communities that surround the waters to which their sewage is released. All communities with CSSs must incorporate a form of public participation in their long-term control plans in an effort to mitigate their impact. Ideally, public participation could evolve from traditional, passive sharing of information to active community engagement with a measurable reduction in water pollution. StormSensor, a Seattle-based tech startup, proposes that more active solutions are possible if the current gap in empirical data can be filled in a way that is cost effective, efficient, and easy for communities of all sizes to adapt.


Seattle Leading the Way

Luni Libes, founder / Managing Director of Fledge, Co-founder of and Faculty at Presidio Graduate School

Is Seattle the leading city for social good?


Recovery Café Network

David Uhl, MPA

More people are dying of drug overdose than died of AIDS at the height of that epidemic, over 72,000 in 2017. Prevention, treatment and recovery are three legs of the same stool to reduce this epidemic. The third leg, especially communities of recovery support, provides hope to reverse this epidemic and help individuals build lives they are excited about living. Founded in 2004 in Seattle, the Recovery Café model is an effective way to deliver community based recovery support that is different other recovery centers or fellowship halls. Using a Membership approach, this person-centered recovery oriented system of care supports a person as they establish a healthy life and continues to provide the stability they need to thrive. Since 2016, the Recovery Café model has spread to 11 cities in 5 states and DC with more groups working to bring this healing model to their communities.


Smart City Tourism

Chaitra Vedullapalli, Co-Founder/CMO, Meylah Corporation

Meylah brings Smart City Tourism IoT solution to Grays Harbor with help from Microsoft, HPE and other partners.