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Innovative private-public partnership earns $1 million in Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge

Last summer, while launching the city's Office of New Urban Mechanics [ONUM], Story Bellows and Jeff Friedman met with Philadelphia’s top social impact organizations. This process led to the idea of private-public collaboration with Good Company Group [GCG], a local incubator for environmental and social entrepreneurship.

The resulting concept, the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership [PSEP], provides opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to tackle traditional public sector problems such as storm water management, gun violence and education. This past Wednesday, the group's proposal was one of five (out of 300) awarded $1 million in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
 
Two-to-three times per year, a PSEP advisory board will help the mayor’s office identify a key issue -- and the associated costs -- and provide a framework for startup proposals. During each session, ten applicants will access incubation services, data and information from related city departments, and coaching from public sector industry experts.  
 
"It's looking at problems that [city] government has, that drain a lot of resources, and reframing them as market opportunities," says Zoe Selzer, executive director at GCG. "It's not targeting one specific challenge -- it's creating a system that can target a lot of different challenges." 
 
PSEP partners include GCV, ONUM, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology. The application to the Mayor's Challenge was overseen by Maari Porter, Chief Grants Officer for Philadelphia. According to Selzer, PSEP’s inclusion of non-government leadership was unique among Bloomberg finalists.
 
To refine the concept, the partners worked on government procurement strategies and established the need for pilot contracts (in lieu of grants) to support social startups. They encourage applications from Greater Philadelphia and across the country.
 
"It's a huge validation of the work we’ve been doing," says Selzer. "We really believe this is our opportunity to position Philadelphia as a national hub for social enterprise and as a place where [social] entrepreneurs grow and test their ideas and then spread those ideas around the country and around the world."

Source: Zoe Selzer, Good Company Group; Story Bellows, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics
Writer: Dana Henry

Ignite Philly 11 provides lively showcase for city's top thinkers

Most know Christine Knapp as a sustainability ambassador via her outreach roles with Penn Future, the Next Great City Intiative, the Passyunk Square Civic Association and, most recently, the Philadelphia Water Department. But during Ignite Philly 11 (held last Thursday at Johnny Brenda's), Knapp gained a new title: karaoke master.

After sharing best practices from her 15 years of experience, Knapp inspired Indy Hall's Alex Hillman and Flying Kite’s Michelle Freeman to join her onstage for a rendition of Journey's "Don’t Stop Believing."
 
Such is the spirit of Ignite Philly, where local leaders put their titles aside to share their passions. Spoken word artist Erica Hawthorne gave a lively pitch for Small But Mighty Arts Grant, her mission to recover the 72 percent of art in Philly that’s gone "missing" due to lack of funding. Brett Hart of the Wooden Boat Factory explained how wood and the Delaware River are transforming the youth of his native Frankford ("This wood is like my life -- it's hard, but I’m trying to shape it into something," a student once told him). Hive76’s Jordan Miller, a Penn scientist, demonstrated how he generates living vascular structures via 3-D printing -- in sugar.
 
Ignite 11 also reflected Philly’s burgeoning love for open data. Mark Headd, the city's chief data officer, opened the evening by making a compelling analogy between Athenian Democracy and urban open data usage, warning that many Philadelphians still can't participate due to the digital divide (a problem he’s addressing with GetYourToga.org). Dave Zega and Jake Wells of ElectNext revealed their method for using data to verify the claims of politicians. Ben Garvey showed Ignite how data can be made visual -- and more digestible. And Stephanie Alarcon, Amy Gutherie and Georgia Gutherie of the Hacktory shared "Hacking the Gender Gap," a database that tracks causal experiences leading to the gender disparity in tech.
 
Other notable speakers included Amanda Feifer-O'Brien, the force behind a local movement to save beneficial micro-organisms via fermentation; Drew Beecher, president of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and leader of a national tree-planting campaign; and Ashvika Dhir, the Pennsbury High School Senior behind CauseHub.com, a meta-blog for teenage change-makers. 
 
Ignite 11 was hosted by P'unk Ave's Geoff DiMasi, Indy Hall's Adam Teterus and Breadboard's David Clayton. They also awarded Girl Develop It Philly -- presenters at Ignite 10 -- $1000 to provide tech class scholarships for 50 local women.
 
Source: Ignite Philly 11
Writer: Dana Henry

Wind power provider Clean Currents opens Philly office, hiring sales reps

When Clean Currents, a wind power company based in Silver Spring, Md., opened a third office at 15th and Walnut Streets, they wanted Philadelphia to know. Last week, they showcased a 20-foot model wind turbine in Rittenhouse Square, Love Park, Manyunk and at the Wachovia Center in South Philly.
 
The "See The Power" campaign incorporated social media contests to build buzz around the availability of locally sourced wind power. According to Gary Skulnik, the company's president and chairman of the board, selling this energy is only the first step.

The company -- which has a second office in Baltimore -- also publishes a bi-weekly newsletter on environmental issues and policy, holds sustainability webinars, campaigns for energy efficiency legislation, gives presentations on environmental issues at local grade schools and holds "green neighborhood challenges" with prizes such as rain barrels and compost bins.
 
"We really view ourselves as a front door to sustainability," says Skulnik. "Once people and businesses sign up with us, we like to help them take additional steps. I think they appreciate an approach that pushes the envelope a little."
 
In two years, Clean Currents has racked up thousands of customers including businesses, schools and embassies. They have over 12,000 e-newsletter subscribers. From 2011 to 2012, their revenues grew 400 percent. They are currently hiring sales reps to round out their five-person Philly office.
 
According to Skulnik, Clean Currents chose their new locale because of an environmentally conscious consumer-base -- he credits the Sustainable Business Network and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council for helping drive the movement. In an era of mass information, sustainability requires more than individual action.
 
"The only way we are going to solve [climate change] is by creating a ground swell of support for solutions," he says. "It’s really vital that we create this sense of community."

Source: Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents
Writer: Dana Henry

Nvigor connects local students to the dynamic world of startups

One of the hidden advantages of going to college in Philadelphia is accessibility to the local startup community. Practically every other week there’s a startup weekend, hackathon or Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) event.  
 
When Dias Gotama, an International Information Systems major at Drexel, started attending these events he was surprised to find there weren’t many other students. 

"An entrepreneurship ecosystem is growing really fast in Philadelphia," says Gotma. "A lot of events that happen aren’t well targeted to students -- they’re either really expensive or organizations don’t know how to reach students on a granular level."

Nvigor -- a student organization he cofounded with fellow Drexel student Abhiroop Das and Pulak Mittal, a Penn student -- hopes to change that.

Students who sign up with Nvigor receive a list of events culled from the PSL listserv and Philly Startup Digest. Nvigor also helps organize student scholarships for pricey events such as Lean Startup Machine and Startup Weekend Health.
 
The group is working with the City's Office of New Urban Mechanics on a curriculum for students interested in civic-minded startups. In addition, they’re planning a Student Startup Conference for the upcoming Philly Tech Week.
 
Nvigor recently received sponsorship from Smart IMS -- they will pay for the group's membership at Culture Works, an organization that provides management resources and operational support. Eventually, Nvigor hopes to help students get part-time jobs or apprenticeships at emerging companies. They also plan to expand their services to suburban schools.
 
"If students come to these events, and they like them, word will spread about Philadelphia’s startup community," says Gotama. 

Source: Dias Gotama, Abhiroop Das and Pulak Mittal, Nvigor
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia Game Lab, an incubator and co-working space for game developers, is set to open

With the recent success of companies like Flyclops, Final Form and Cipher Prime, mobile game-making is carving a niche in the city's creative economy. Now the community needs a home-base -- enter Nathan Solomon, founder of Philadelphia Game Lab, a combination co-working space and incubator.
 
"Over the past ten years, with alternative distribution channels, the industry as a whole is much more interested in actual creative stuff," says Solomon. "Philadelphia's not in a really great position to pull together teams of over a hundred people, but we are in a really good position to pull together people who have technical expertise and creative drive, and want to make their own games."

The Lab will open its doors at 22nd and Walnut Streets in late March. It will admit small "teams" (usually two to six people) and skilled individuals seeking teams. In addition to benefiting from the networking and support that comes with a game-centric community, teams can better access capital via partnering funders. Opportunities for mentoring and a Quality Assurance (QA) Lab for beta testing are also in the works.
 
While shrinking startup costs have made the game app industry more accessible, the market is highly competitive. "You don’t need to find that special backer or special publisher anymore," says Solomon. "At the same time, it's really, really hard to make a good game."
 
The Lab will open with four teams and hopes to serve 12 teams total. Solomon says he’s also planning programs with local universities designed to expose students to game making as a vocation.
 
Source: Nathan Solmon, Philadelphia Game Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

P'unk Ave launches apprenticeship program for wanna-be developers

Thanks to the limitless growth of open data, online organizing and open source software, civic participation has never been easier. Of course, while many Philadelphians engage with those virtual channels, few know how to build them.
 
Fortunately, South Philly's P'unk Avenue has launched an apprenticeship program to put purpose-driven urbanites on the fast track to technical competency. The web development shop -- whose recent clients include the Philadelphia School Partnership, PlanPhilly, The Food Trust, the Delaware River Waterfront Plan, the Conservation Center for Arts and Historical Artifacts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia -- is offering six months of real-world experience to nascent techies. They are currently considering applicants for May; a stipend is included.
 
"From the beginning [P'unk Ave] has always had that mindset of this being a place where people learn and grow," says founder Geoff DiMasi, a former multimedia professor at University of the Arts. "We’ve always been good at teaching people -- why not formalize that?"
 
P'unk Ave's "prototype" apprentice Joel Smith was teaching high school in South Jersey and seeking a career change before joining the company. He considered graduate school but wasn’t convinced it was the most efficient path.
 
"Literally, from the first day [of apprenticeship] I was building websites with a fair deal of autonomy," says Smith. "I was in an environment with professionals who were invested in my growth, but actually doing meaningful projects."
 
In addition to sharpening his code-writing skills, Smith has helped P'unk Ave compile a "cannon" of texts related to industry standards. DiMasi says he sees the apprenticeship becoming a signature of P'unk Ave while offering a gateway for passionate Philadelphians -- particularly minorities and women -- to join companies like his.
 
"You can teach people how to build a website, but you can’t teach them how to care about changing the world," he says.
 
Source: Geoff DiMasi, Joel Smith, P’unk Ave
Writer: Dana Henry

Philly's first LadyHacks lures women into the hackathon movement

Nationally, computer science programs award more masters degrees to men than bachelors degrees to women.

This statistic helped inspire "Visualizing the Gender Gap," a graphic representation of educational and professional outcomes for men and women. The project was one of several activist platforms created during Philadelphia’s first LadyHacks, a mostly-female hackathon held last weekend at WHYY in Center City.

"A lot of the Hackathons you see are competitive," says Tristin Hightower, co-organizer of LadyHacks. "We wanted to remove that element. We were trying to address stuff that impacts [women] as an under-represented group in tech."

Other projects included Miss Conceptions, a click-through info graph addressing female stereotypes; Power Solvers, a game aimed at increasing tech appeal to 11- to 15-year-old girls; Hacking the Gender Gap, a program that tracks positive and negative tech experiences by gender; STEM everywhere, a regional resource for Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) youth education programs; and SheTechPHL, a comprehensive guide for women looking to engage in the local tech scene.

The event had 64 female and one male participants. Most came from non-technical backgrounds (SheTech, for example, was produced by four English majors) and the teams received mentorship from local female leaders including Yasmine Mustafa of Girl Develop IT Philly, Gloria Bell of Philly Startup Leaders and Tracy Levesque of Yikes. Sponsors included Chariot Solutions, Azavea, Skout MediaMonetate, Yikes and Philly Tech Meetup.

Hightower and fellow Girl Geek Dinner member Sondra Willhite developed the concept as a solution for lackluster female participation in Philly’s hackathons. Eighty percent of attendees admitted that they had never contributed at a tech event before. By the end of the hackathon, most said they planned to participate again in the near future.

Hightower and Willhite will follow up with surveys to see if these newbies do, in fact, continue their pursuit, particularly with regards to the upcoming Philly Tech Week. Additionally, they're re-evaluating the event -- with help of attendee feedback -- in hopes of creating an annual LadyHacks.

"Hackathons have this stereotype that it's all the coders getting together and just coding," says Hightower. "But that's not all they can be. All these other people need to be involved—and can be involved."

Source: Tristin Hightower, Sondra Willhite, Lady Hacks
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Quorum, the 'clubhouse for entrepreneurs,' reaches $1 million milestone

After receiving a final contribution from the University of Pennsylvania, the University City Science Center closed its Open the Doors Campaign. The first fundraiser in the local institution's fifty year history raised over $1 million for Quorum. This "clubhouse for entrepreneurs" has a two-pronged mission: to provide a place where entrepreneurs can meet and present a programming series designed to help those entrepreneurs move forward.
 
Quorum -- equipped with meeting rooms, a lounge and a small auditorium -- is distinguished from traditional coworking spaces through open accessibility. Local entrepreneurs are encouraged to use the space to host meetings or to just drop by to work among their peers. No membership required.
 
"We really want to give people the chance to make informal connections," says Jeanne Mell, VP of marketing and  communications for the Science Center.
 
The roster of investment and advising opportunities includes Coffee and Capital, an educational meeting between an investor and 20 entrepreneurs; Office Hours, where local business experts -- including Jeff Libson from Pepper Hamilton, Jeff Bodle from Morgan Lewis and Allison Deflorio from Exude -- meet individual entrepreneurs to answer pre-submitted questions; Angel Education, which hosts a panel of entrepreneurs to educate angel investors about opportunities in emerging industries;  and How to Talk to Money, a new series by BizClarity's Steve Bowman on approaching investors.  
 
The concept emerged from recommendations made by Select Greater Philadelphia's CEO Council for Growth. Since opening in 2011, the facility has serviced 12,000 individuals and hosted 250 events. The Science Center has also partnered with the Navy Yard's EEB Hub on Satellite Quorum, to offer programing on energy-related ventures.
 
Open the Doors received support from 34 private companies and institutions, including Morgan Lewis, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Energy Plus. Moving forward, the Science Center expects to provide opportunities for ongoing sponsorship.
 
"As the money has rolled in, it's been used to support Quorum's programing," says Mell. "This is really the first step in our fundraising journey."
 
Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Dana Henry

Our partner for the "Inventing the Future" series is the University City Science Center.

Young Involved Philly expands Board Prep Program to train next-gen leaders

If #WhyILovePhilly taught us anything, it’s that the city's young activists don’t lack enthusiasm. Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) is aiming to channel that energy by expanding their Board Prep Program, a tool for training and developing the next generation of nonprofit leaders. Applications went live this week.
 
The program provides six weekly classes on topics including strategic planning, legal and ethical issues, fundraising, and financial management. Thanks to a recent $40,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, YIP added Lea Kleinman, a teacher at Harrity Elementary as director. They also plan to offer a second session of the program each year.

"More and more foundations are looking to fund organizations that are diverse," says Sophie Hwang, Vice-Chair for Outreach at YIP. "Philadelphia is at a point where it's really hungry for younger board members."

YIP acquired the Board Prep Program from Philadelphia's Young Nonprofit Leaders in 2010. The applicant pool has grown steadily since then, and last fall over 100 people applied for 30 spots. Hwang says successful candidates are often nonprofit employees or those with a strong interest in civic leadership.
 
"We’re framing the program so you can apply it in a board context," says Hwang, "but it definitely can help in your day to day operations."
 
At the end of the program, YIP holds a matching event where recent grads are paired with interested organizations. According to Hwang, those who complete the program almost always go on to serve on local boards.

Source: Sophie Hwang, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel launches groundbreaking school to educate young entrepreneurs

Drexel University has been making headlines as a leading innovator in higher education. In addition to launching the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, the school spearheaded the ExCITe Center (featured in the December 4 issue of Flying Kite). Now they’re taking it a step further, announcing the foundation of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, slated to open in fall 2013. 

The curriculum has not been officially announced, but founding dean Dr. Donna DeCarolis says Close will put less emphasis on traditional business programing. Instead, the new school will stress actionable skills such as teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Students will develop expertise in a particular discipline -- whether it's engineering, science or the arts -- while building business know-how.

"It’s important in a very broad way that we teach our students how to be entrepreneurial in their personal and professional lives," says DeCarolis.

The Close School was founded with a $12.5 million endowment from the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation. It is one of the first freestanding schools devoted to entrepreneurship in the country. Close will offer incoming freshman a "living and learning community" where students dorm together and engage in venture-related activities. Sophomores and juniors can opt for an "entrepreneurship co-op," and receive funding and mentorship to work exclusively on their new enterprise.

Entrepreneurship, explains DeCarolis, is not just about starting a business. The ability to develop an idea and follow it through is increasingly valuable. Even within the corporate structure, today’s executives look to their employees for new ideas and a demonstrated ability to innovate.

It's also about flexibility. "Students that graduate today, by the time they're in their forties, will have had ten or so jobs," says DeCarolis. "Many of those jobs will be self-employment."

Source: Donna DeCarolis, Drexel's Close School of Entrepreneurship
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel undergrads snag top prize at Lean Startup Philly 3.0

Most everyday objects, particularly mobile devices, could benefit from an added solar panel. That was the original hypothesis of "Team Spore," winners of this weekend’s Lean Startup Machine Philly 3.0, held at Drexel University's Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.

The team of Drexel undergrads -- Mark Brandon, Dylan Kenny and Jason Browne -- walked away with an AWeber account, a month-long membership at Seed Philly and web development through the Venturepact X incubator .

Lean Startup Machine (often incorrectly lumped in with Startup Weekend) focuses on building the concept rather than a working product. Participants spent three days testing their assumptions and interviewing potential customers.
 
Half of the 55 participants were students. To lure those students, organizer Kert Heinecke moved the event from VentureF0rth to University City. The Baiada Institute, the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at University of the Arts and AWebber provided several student scholarships. Dan Shipper, a Penn junior who cofounded Airtime for Email and Firefly, was a guest speaker.
  
Browne -- who met Brandon and Kenny at the event -- admits his concept was simple, but says the team benefited from rigorous testing. "Usually, if I have an idea, I jump right in," he says. "Taking a step back and thinking about [our concept] from a market -- not a marketing -- perspective was helpful."

Session mentors included Chris Cera from Arcweb, Ted Mann from SnipSnap, Brad Denenberg from Seed Philly, Jake Stein from RJ Metrics and Yasmine Mustafa, cofounder of 123Links and Girl Develop IT Philly.
 
Twelve teams made it to the finals. Second place was awarded to Paper Wool, a home goods design company and graduate of the Corzo Incubator and Good Company Ventures. Washington, D.C. team Busted, which helps customers find shop for bras online, finished third.
 
Source: Kert Heinecke, Lean Startup Machine Philly; Jason Browne, Team Spore
Writer: Dana Henry

PSL's Philly Community Map and Directory debuts

Philly’s tech community is on the map. Literally. On January 28, Philadelphia Startup Leaders (PSL) and WeWorkInPhilly (WWIP) launched the Philly Community Map and Directory, a GIS-enabled open-source guide to the individuals, companies, coworking spaces, resources, organizations and investors that make up our growing startup economy.  
 
Based on the WWIP directory created by Linus Graybill and Alex Hillman (cofounder of Indy Hall), the resource is intended to be "used by all, owned by none." Its development brought together a team of disparate techie founders including Hillman, Chris Cera of ArcWeb, Brad Oyler of W3Portals, Mel Baiada of BaseCamp Ventures, Brian Kirk of Technically Philly, Elliot Menschik of Venturef0rth and Bob Moul of appRenaissance.
 
"A lot of people are interested in finding better ways to interact with the tech community," says Cera. "[The Community Map] is a minimum viable product we did collaboratively to prove that we can all work together even though we have different goals and different stakeholders."
 
Member listings can include revenue, customers, number of employees and job postings. Cera points out that the project is not solely focused on the commercial aspects of the tech community -- new members can register companies or sign up as people.
 
Moul, who is president of PSL, expects the map will help entrepreneurs, startups and businesses promote themselves, while also making the local tech economy more attractive to inside and outside investment. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Select Greater Philadelphia, PHL Convention & Visitors Bureau, University City Science Center and Startup PHL plan to host the resource on their websites.
 
As of January 28th, 852 people and 328 companies have signed up via WeWorkInPhilly. PSL encourages anyone with a stake in the local tech scene to consider joining.
 
Source: Chris Cera, Bob Moul, Philly Startup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

Goldman Sachs gives $10 million boost to Philly small businesses

Philadelphia may be anchored by "eds and meds," but our small businesses -- web design firms, equipment manufacturers, eateries and shops -- help keep us afloat. According to the Sustainable Business Network's Taking Care of Business 2011 report, of the city's 90,000 businesses, 98 percent report less than 50 employees.

Some of those businesses will soon be getting a boost: Philadelphia was recently chosen for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Business Initiative which will provide up to $10 million in small business loans administered through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).
 
PIDC can serve a broader lending market than a traditional bank. According to Anne Nevins, Senior Vice President of Market Development for PIDC, promising businesses are sometimes held back by issues with credit or collateral. They may also be changing direction and appear risky to financial institutions. "We want to serve those businesses that are established and ready for a growth plan but for whatever reason can’t access the capital," says Nevins.
 
PIDC expects to serve several businesses in the manufacturing and professional service sectors needing $50,000 to $750,000 for new equipment, property, and working capital. They also identify restaurants, retail stores and revenue-earning nonprofits as potential benefactors. Nevins expects many applicants to be referred to PIDC from partner banks.
 
In total, PIDC expects to underwrite approximately fifty loans averaging $200,000, giving priority to businesses located in low to moderate income neighborhoods or those that employ lower to moderate income residents. Lancaster-based Community First Fund will provide up to $5 million in similar loans to 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Goldman Sachs is also funding financial and operational education offered by Philadelphia Community College and support services through partner community groups for loan recipients. 
 
Since launching in Spring 2010, over 1,000 businesses in eleven cities have completed the program. Roughly 70 percent report increased revenues and 50 percent have created new jobs. 

Source: Anne Nevins, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation 
Writer: Dana Henry

Social Studies: Penn's new "lab" fosters social innovation

We've all been there: You pass by a trash-strewn lot or hear an account of school violence and, suddenly, you have an idea. Philadelphians are great at creating opportunity from seemingly hopeless situations. The road to implantation, however, can be littered with naysayers and fundraising bureaucracy. So how do you know your stroke of genius has merit?
 
The Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab—an outgrowth of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ)— aims to help instigators test their vision against respective markets before fully committing. This may sound like private sector incubation, and that’s exactly the point. The 15-week program will provide mentorship, strategy development and return on investment modeling—opportunities not generally afforded to nonprofit and government organizations. They launch mid-January and will support up to 40 projects per semester.
 
With a combined 40 years of experience in social programming, Lab cofounders and PSIJ editors Tine Hansen-Turton and Nick Torres consider public sector innovations critical to a developed society. These services not only build our quality of life, Hansen-Turton explains, they also provide an essential step in workforce development via volunteer positions and help foster a regional culture that’s attractive to outside businesses and talent. "Connecting people and companies to the missions of these organizations makes not only social sense, but can translate into economic outcomes," she says.
 
Despite the economic setbacks of recent years, social innovations continue to thrive. The Nonprofit Almanac of 2011 acknowledges 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States—they are responsible for as much as five percent of GDP (source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). The Philadelphia region alone has over 15,000 nonprofit organizations employing 242,000 people and furnishing $11 billion in annual wages (Source: Philadelphia Foundation).
 
It was passionate PSIJ readers that inspired Hansen-Turton and Torres. In three years of quarterly publication, the pair has taken hundreds of phone calls from social innovation enthusiasts seeking input on their ideas. The pair partnered with Penn’s Fels Institute of Government (where they are adjunct faculty), PennDesign and PennPraxis. The first batch of accepted proposals were largely from Penn students, faculty and staff, and focused on health, education, and arts and culture.
 
In 2010, 26 percent of Americans over age 16 volunteered for a nonprofit (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). Locally, a new generation of visionaries—including Young Involved Philly and Philly Stake—prove our will is stronger than ever. "[Social innovation] is the foundation of America and our future," says Hansen-Turton. "We need to support [their leaders] with the tools and techniques that is afforded the private sector."

Source: Tine Hansen-Turton, Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

Retrofit Reverb: Navy Yard's EEB Hub jumpstarts local energy economy

If you're a commercial or multi-family building owner dreaming of an energy efficiency overhaul, now’s your chance. The Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) Hub is offering $150,000 grants to building owners, facility managers, tenants, service providers and engineering firms for integrated energy retrofits—projects addressing whole energy systems, not just individual parts. The Advanced Energy Retrofit Opportunity (AERO) Fund will finance 20 projects early next year, and has extended the deadline for first-round applications to January 30, 2013.

Laurie Actman, deputy director of EEB Hub, calls Philly a "testing bed" for energy innovation: "We want to take examples from the work done here and promote them nationally," she says.

Retrofitting identifiable candidates—nearly half our building stock—could spur the creation of 23,500 jobs and $618 million in spending for the Philadelphia region, according to the Econsult Corporation. These jobs include service providers, equipment providers, architects, engineers and systems vendors.

"We’re trying to stimulate a lot of activity in the [energy retrofit] market," says Actman. "It’s hard to get [industry professionals] to work together at the same time on a design. We’re trying to create demand for that approach so the industry will take a more integrated approach themselves."

Established by the Department of Energy as the nation's largest research and innovations center for the energy economy (and based in the Navy Yard), the Hub plans to repeat the grant program throughout the next five years, investing tens of millions in our local retrofit economy. They aim for a 20 percent regional reduction in energy use by 2020.

"We see [The AREO Fund] as a permanent part of the city and the region," says Actman.

Source: Laurie Actman, EEB Hub
Writer: Dana Henry
200 Regionalism Articles | Page: | Show All
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