Social Innovation

The nonprofit and philanthropic sector cannot solve social problems if it doesn't innovate, take on more risk and attract more investments to scale up what's working.

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Too often, the nonprofit sector has struggled to do that innovating. With our new strategic plan in 2013, we opened a line of Social Innovation work. It's a commitment to attacking old problems in new ways, working with unlikely partners, piloting programs, reacting quickly as external context dictates, trying new things and being unafraid to fail -- as long as we're failing forward. We are also introducing new types of funding, include Program-Related Investments and Mission-Related Investments, and soon, social venture funds. We know we can't achieve all we want for Detroit kids alone; we must use our reputation and capital to attract outside investors to our work, and we will do so aggressively.

Goals and Strategies

Our goal is to unleash social innovation and market-based solutions to benefit children, support education and strengthen neighborhoods.

  • Raise Philanthropic Venture Funds that can drive resources to key strategies and support key partners to build greater capacity and expand their impact.
  • Use Program-Related Investments to provide a variety of financial tools, such as low-interest loans or lease guarantees, to help support key strategies, e.g., facilities for high-performing schools, including charters.
  • Support Detroit-Based Investments, profitable investments that align with our strategic interests and investment policies
  • Leverage our Champion Network to increase individual and institutional investments in our social enterprise work as well as provide operational expertise for our partners


New project areas fighting blight in Brightmoor -- My Fox Detroit, Jan. 2014