The Action Tank emerged from our desire to help social entrepreneurs realize significantly greater impact on the tough, systemic problems they aspire to solve.
We believe that the impact any single organization can have on education, workforce development, public health, or poverty—while real and meaningful—is limited, and will never be enough to fix our broken systems and truly transform our society. For this reason, in 2004 we began to develop the idea for an "Action Tank"—a group within New Profit that works beyond the bounds of individual organizations to reshape our institutions and more effectively allocate resources for problem solving. We believe that all sectors have an important role to play in transforming our approach to the challenges we face, and improving opportunities for individuals, families, and communities. Why Our Social Problems Persist
Many innovative solutions to our most persistent social challenges already exist, and social entrepreneurs are developing new approaches every day. Yet dismal high school graduation rates, pervasive but preventable chronic health problems, and a lack of preparedness for work that supports families and sustains our economic competitiveness, make clear that communities are not benefiting sufficiently from these social innovations. The majority of our most effective social innovations fail to reach scale and realize their full potential to create big change because:
Overcoming Barriers to Scale
- Citizens and leaders alike lack awareness that solutions exist, fostering low-expectations for overcoming their problems.
- Resources do not flow to the organizations that deliver the best results in the most effective ways. We lack a high-functioning capital market to identify and grow organizations to the communities where they are needed most.
- Government, philanthropy, the private sector, social entrepreneurs, and citizens lack the incentives and models to collaborate effectively to identify and invest in what works.
Through a range of strategies, the Action Tank aspires to bring the transformative power of social innovations to bear on our most persistent challenges. To overcome the barriers to identifying, fostering, and accelerating social innovation, the Action Tank's focus currently includes:
- Transforming government's role: We are pursuing a policy agenda that identifies principles and approaches that can transform government's role in solving problems, These include leveraging public funding and fostering cross-sector partnerships to increase investment in high-impact organizations, catalyze innovation in the social sector, and scale effective solutions. Learn more about our non-partisan initiative, America Forward.
- Bringing innovators together: We convene leading innovators from the public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors to spark development of new ideas, relationships, and resources that can help build stronger organizations, overcome the barriers to scale, and dramatically improve opportunities for children, families and communities. Learn more about our annual Gathering of Leaders.