2012-2013 Social Issue Tracks and Sponsoring Partners
Lead Sponsors: The Margaret Stewart Lindsay Foundation and Fiduciary Trust Company
- Expanding Access to Classical Music in Greater Boston
- Healthy Aging: Vibrant Lifestyles for Adults Ages 60+
- Healthy Lifestyles: Promoting Healthy Behaviors in Our Community
- Impact Investing: Connecting Social Enterprises to Capital
- Women and Girls: Promoting Education, Economic Opportunity, and Self-Sufficiency
- Youth Violence Prevention Through Workforce Development
Sponsoring Partner: Free for All Concert Fund
Classical music is often perceived as a privilege of the elite experienced by those who can afford to attend performances and provide their children with lessons. Research conducted by the League of American Orchestras in 2009 shows that orchestra attendees are predominantly white with household incomes of more than $50,000. Yet, interest in classical music in all its forms (e.g., orchestral, chamber, vocal) is not limited to those with financial means. Ample research shows that music and the arts are vital to a 21st century education. Children who are exposed to music and learn to play an instrument develop intellectual capacity, discipline, creativity, a positive self-image and the ability to work with others. People of all ages, races, cultures, and socioeconomic spheres seek an entry point into the vibrant world of classical music. However, despite the many artists, cultural organizations, educational institutions, and venues in Greater Boston, accessing affordable, high-quality classical music can be challenging for many. For this social issue track, the Social Innovation Forum is seeking a program or organization that is focused on expanding access to high-quality, traditional, classical music for a diverse cross section of the Greater Boston community.
Sponsoring Partner: Tufts Health Plan Foundation
According to the 2010 census, Massachusetts is home to just under 1.3 million residents over age 60. As baby boomers age, this number is projected to rise by nearly one-third to 1.6 million in 2020. Given this demographic shift, it is now more important than ever to provide older adults with support to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health, including opportunities to remain active in their communities. Research shows that approximately 91 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 73 percent have at least two. In addition, every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall. To promote healthy aging, it is imperative to address basic needs such as housing, health care, and social services. Furthermore, communities must promote physical activity, healthy nutrition, and chronic disease prevention and provide opportunities for social and civic engagement. This is most essential for vulnerable subgroups, such as low-income, LGBT, minority, chronically ill and disabled, immigrant, and non-English-speaking populations that often face additional challenges in maintaining lifelong wellness. For this track, the Social Innovation Forum is seeking a nonprofit program or organization working inside the Route 495 area to advance healthy aging for older adults through health education, chronic disease management, social and civic engagement, fall prevention, and other programs that enhance the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers.
Healthy Lifestyles: Promoting Healthy Behaviors in Our Community
Sponsoring Partner: Highland Street Foundation
The overall health of the U.S. population has been in decline for decades, causing financial strain on our health care system, limited productivity, and reduced quality of life. Lack of exercise, poor diet, and smoking are leading reasons for this decline. Currently, 60 percent of adults and nearly one-third of youth (grades 9 through 12) in Massachusetts are considered overweight or obese. Sixteen percent of Massachusetts residents smoke, which makes them 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Such behaviors often lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and pulmonary conditions, which cost Massachusetts taxpayers an estimated $34 billion in direct-care costs and lost productivity in 2003. Risky behaviors also contribute to poor health outcomes. In Massachusetts, 27 percent of residents do not use seat belts, and one in five teens places himself or herself at risk of unwanted pregnancy or contracting sexually transmitted infections by engaging in sexual activity before his or her 15th birthday. Despite these discouraging statistics, ample research has shown that educating people about proper diet and exercise, the dangers of smoking and substance abuse, seat belt use and other safety concerns, contraception, and safe sex can improve overall health and reduce individual and societal costs. The Social Innovation Forum seeks a nonprofit program or organization promoting healthy lifestyles for residents of the Greater Boston area.
Impact Investing: Connecting Social Enterprises to Capital
Sponsoring Partner: The Devonshire Foundation
Although the field of impact investing is still being defined, it is clear that the market for impact investments is significant. Impact entrepreneurs with sustainable enterprises are actively seeking ways to access the capital they need to grow and achieve profitability and scale. Investors and philanthropists have articulated interest in channeling capital to build and support social enterprises and are looking for opportunities to invest. A recent study estimates that individual investors represent about $120 billion in market opportunity for impact investing. Yet, as impact investing is in its early stages, mechanisms for investments that generate positive social impact as well as some level of financial return are not fully developed, and a significant gap exists between social enterprises seeking capital and investors who are looking to support these enterprises through investment. For this track, the Social Innovation Forum is focused on addressing this gap by expanding access to capital for social enterprises – connecting organizations to the capital they need to grow and address social issues. The Social Innovation Forum is seeking applicants with nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid organizational structures that are working to address a social issue through the products and services they sell or through training and development of the people they employ. We are particularly interested in enterprises that are at an inflection point in their development and seeking to capitalize using approaches beyond traditional philanthropy (e.g. debt, equity, and Program-Related Investments).
Sponsoring Partners: Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation & Vesta Vanguards
Despite great strides in opportunities and respect for gender differences, much remains to be done to ensure equal access to educational, social, and economic participation for women and girls. Today, more women than men earn higher education degrees at all levels. Yet women are still left out of some of the highest-paying, most respected jobs and career tracks. Women are still underrepresented in many science, upper management, and civic positions, for example. Furthermore, the average woman earns less than three-quarters of what a man earns for the same job. Even as they earn less, women are often responsible for supporting children and extended family members. In Massachusetts, nearly 75 percent of single-parent families are headed by women. Fortunately, a wealth of recent research suggests that with intentionality, programs and organizations can advance the status of women and girls. Those that anticipate and understand gender differences, reduce disparities in school and sports opportunities, combat constricting gender expectations, and promote safe environments for learning and working are the most successful. For this track, the Social Innovation Forum seeks a nonprofit program or organization that strives to improve the status, health, safety conditions, educational opportunities, and/or financial well-being of women and/or girls in Greater Boston. We welcome gender-specific and coeducational models that demonstrate attention to gender differences.
Youth Violence Prevention Through Workforce Development
Sponsoring Partner: State Street Foundation
Violence is a fact of life for far too many of Boston’s youth. A total of 65 percent of Boston Public School students reported witnessing an act of violence in the past year, and 31 percent say they witnessed violence within their own neighborhoods. Research indicates that children and adolescents who witness violence are more likely to exhibit violent behavior themselves and show higher rates of PTSD, depression, distress, and overall aggression. To address this problem in Boston, the State Street Foundation launched an ambitious endeavor called the Youth Violence Prevention Funder Learning Collaborative in 2009. Thus far, the Collaborative has learned that meaningful employment enables youth development and prevents violence by reducing risky and deviant behaviors and isolation; increasing social skills; and developing academic persistence, workplace skills, and career aspirations. According to the Collaborative, meaningful employment is comprehensive and includes paid work experience with quality supervision, a well-designed learning plan, and connections to supportive services, particularly positive youth development and mentoring activities. Furthermore, while summer jobs fill a critical need for Boston’s youth, year-round engagement is what’s needed to keep youth on a positive track, sustain improvements in behavior, and stop violence. Through research, the Collaborative also discovered that active outreach to disconnected young people is an essential component in any youth violence prevention strategy. For this social issue track, the Social Innovation Forum is seeking a nonprofit program or organization in the City of Boston that provides meaningful employment and conducts intentional outreach to disconnected subpopulations that are designated at higher risk. These subpopulations include youth ages 14 to 24 that are homeless, in foster care, court-involved, dropped out or at risk of dropping out of high school, and unmarried mothers. We are most interested in programs and organizations that provide or plan to expand to provide year-round, meaningful engagement, including employment and other appropriate pathways that promote academic persistence.