We’re always on the hunt for the deeper news about social change. Here’s what we’d recommend from the last two months:
“In order to move towards a more effective sector, powered by information, we need to begin by strengthening the core building blocks of data exchange.” A new vision paper from Markets For Good details how and why the social sector needs to upgrade its information infrastructure, including the architecture that helps to connect, organize and structure information so that it can be supplied and used more easily. As part of their effort, Markets for Good is seeking input from others, and is looking for partners committed to supporting this space. You can join the conversation at www.marketsforgood.com.
Are we entering an age of social change enlightenment? Our increasing knowledge about how humans work, improved data measurement systems, and collective impact approaches to social problems are raising expectations for what’s possible in today’s toughest social challenges. The more we hear about innovative programs that are achieving their goals, the more we can make sense of why the best approaches are working and the less legitimate it will be for those with vested interests to defend the status quo.
One of the most economically efficient strategies for providing public services is to ensure that housing near public transportation is affordable to people with a range of incomes. Enabling lower-income households convenient access to transit helps to create successful economies by linking workers to jobs and consumers to businesses. This blog post dives deeper into the often overlooked economic benefit to locating low-income housing near transit, supported by a new policy analysis by Reconnecting America.
“If you fix cities, you kind of fix the world.” When Tony Hsieh, the 38-year-old chief executive of Zappos, wanted to move his company to Las Vegas, he was seeking an urban community aligned with the culture of Zappos, which encourages the kind of “serendipitous interactions” that happen in offices without walls. The only hitch was that it would require transforming the derelict core of a major city. The New York Times dives into Hsieh’s Downtown Project, a $350 million urban experiment to build “the most community-focused large city in the world” in downtown Las Vegas.
The U.S. education system is facing a public crisis of confidence. And yet, the NEA asserts that “we are on the brink of a renaissance in education technology.” Entrepreneurs and investors have historically proceeded with caution in education, due to challenges with scaling and subjective methods of student assessment. However, significant advancements in cloud computing, the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, and low-cost bandwidth have led to an explosion of education start-ups in the U.S., with VC dollars invested in the sector more than tripling over the last five years. The NEA details four major themes shaping and disrupting the education industry as we know it today, creating compelling investment opportunities in a sector not historically known for innovation.
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