Last week, we held another hard hat tour at Springdale General and The Center for Social Innovation. We took many pictures for those unable to attend the tour. We hope to see you there next time!
The Center for Social Innovation led a panel at PeopleFund’s Innovation Week to talk about what social innovation looks like and how we can foster collaboration. We invited Chelsea Elliott, Executive Director of Half Helen Foundation, Andy Brown from The Brown Firm, and Matt McDonnell, Managing Partner at Notley, facilitated the conversation.
On the one hand, the deal we would strike was straightforward; we would invest in the whole Springdale General project and we would take the master lease on 60,000sf in which to create the Center for Social Innovation. But there was a major issue that we needed to address to serve non-profit tenants well.
Austin has one of the greatest concentrations of entrepreneurs and nonprofits (more than 6,000), yet they are missing a formal support system. The Center for Social Innovation (the CSI) is focusing on the unmet needs of the nonprofit, social impact, and investing community of Austin by providing affordable office space and operational guidance.
Through the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business and LBJ School of Public Affairs, St. Edward's University, Huston Tillotson University, and a booming technology sector, the talent is here. We have people who are engaged and working on crucial problems. What we don’t yet have is a space, particularly on the East side, for socially focused entrepreneurs to learn from each other.
The Center for Social Innovation, located at Springdale General (Springdale and Airport) was a key focus for site selection because many of the organizations we work with serve constituencies who live in East Austin. The Center for Social Innovation is not an accelerator; it’s an opportunity for the tenant community to work together to eliminate duplicative efforts, collaborate, and share best practices. The tenants will contribute to events on the campus and participate in educational programming that focuses on operational skills such as social impact bonds, financial planning and analysis and recruiting strategies. This will allow Austin as a community to maximize our collective investment in social change.
The Center for Social Innovation is a proof of concept for what we hope is a repeatable model. Social entrepreneurship, as a movement, is just getting started and we believe that communities like the CSI will play a key role in supporting these emerging ecosystems. Stay tuned for more updates on how we’re making that a reality. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .