December 11, 2009

(Concord, N.H.) - Two hundred New Hampshire leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors came together at NHTI in Concord today to discuss ways to advance social innovation and expand community service as a mean to address social problems.  The event, which was organized by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, served as an opportunity for community leaders to share ideas on how to strengthen public-private partnerships and take advantage of new resources available through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  Sonal Shah, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, traveled to New Hampshire for the event and participated in the first panel discussion.

"New Hampshire has an incredibly rich tradition of volunteerism and using public-private partnerships to address problems facing our communities," said Shaheen. "Today's event was an opportunity for New Hampshire to get in on the ground-level of the Serve America Act so that organizations across the state can access these new and expanded opportunities."  

"Getting involved locally makes a real difference in our own lives and the lives of those around us, and it is clear the men and women of New Hampshire who came to the social innovation event today understand that and are eager to expand their work to strengthen their communities," said Shah.  "The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is just one example of how government can support social entrepreneurship, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Shaheen and everyone I met today to find new ways to tackle social problems." 

"This forum was incredibly important and timely as New Hampshire and the country moves forward meeting critical community needs through innovative civic engagement opportunities. Doing it alone is not innovative. This forum addressed how to partner, share, and understand that the collaborative approach provides the strongest capacity and the most sustainable way to use volunteers, businesses, and government to really create strong, robust communities," said Tim Dupre, Executive Director/AmeriCorps Director of Volunteer NH.

"Community service is a valuable and essential part of who we are in New Hampshire. This event brought together people from across the community spectrum to ensure New Hampshire remains on the cutting edge of working together to address what our communities and citizens need," said Ignatius MacLellen, Vice President of Public Affairs of the Northern New England Housing Investment Fund.

"There is so much to be gained when everyone sits down together to advance social innovations. We can accomplish so much but we can't do it alone. This forum was a great opportunity to bring everyone together," said Barbara Couch, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility of Hypertherm, Inc.

Two panels of experts discussed how creating new, innovative partnerships could increase the reach and effectiveness of programs that are taking on some of the state's most pressing problems.  Panelists highlighted new efforts to mobilize social innovation and the roles different agencies, organizations and education institutions will play.

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