courtesy of ‘Official U.S. Navy Imagery’
Two years ago Congress enacted the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and created the Social Innovation Fund. The fund aims to improve the lives of people in low-income communities by mobilizing public and private resources to grow promising, innovative community-based solutions that have evidence of compelling impact in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.
However, although the Act may have been signed in to law in Washington, DC, its national focus has left room for improvement in the District itself. The DC Social Innovation Project (DCSIP) hopes to bridge this gap.
Co-founded by former Akin Gump attorney Darius Graham and attorney Omar Hashmi, DCSIP fosters social innovation through two different initiatives. The first, the Community Lab, grants program provides $1,500 grants to neighborhood associations, community groups, and schools in DC to implement a small scale, high-impact community project. The second, the Bright Idea Challenge, enlists 18-35 year olds in the DC area to propose creative social ventures that address a local issue, with the two best ideas receiving up to $10,000 in funding and other pro bono services to help them launch their venture.