The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has selected Marquette University for a social innovation grant to benefit a new Marquette University–New York Times partnership. Marquette was one of 10 grantees in a field of approximately 1,000 applicants from 85 countries. The Foundation’s funding program, called Grand Challenges, requested proposals for projects with a “world-changing level of potential.”
Details on the FixesU partnership:
The Marquette–New York Times partnership, called FixesU, combines Marquette University’s Social Innovation Initiative with the journalism prowess of New York Times authors David Bornstein (best-selling author of How to Change the World) and Tina Rosenberg (Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Haunted Land). FixesU will build the first Wiki-style platform that packages “solutions-journalism” – specifically, the New York Times Fixes columns co-authored by Bornstein and Rosenberg – into mini-case-studies for educators around the world to embed social innovation in, and across, the curriculum. The Gates Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant as initial seed money to the partnership.
Marquette University President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. on the importance of the partnership
“It is essential that we take a lead role in accepting the challenge of being innovative and entrepreneurial in pursuing our dreams and the aspirations of the greater community,” said Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., university president. “This unique partnership offers an opportunity to live out our deep commitment to serving others and finding solutions to society’s greatest needs.”
What is Social Innovation?
Social Innovation is a field dedicated to finding novel solutions to social problems, often by attacking roots causes. Marquette University’s Social Innovation Initiative promotes the field as a powerful tool for interdisciplinary learning and a framework for life. Selected as a Changemaker Campus, alongside Duke University and Arizona State University in 2010, Marquette is among the original 10 members of a consortium that now numbers 19 campuses and includes Middlebury College as well as Brown, Brigham Young, Cornell, George Mason and Tulane universities.
Quote from principal author of the study, Jeff Snell
“The selectivity of the award affirms Marquette’s emergence as a national and international leader in social innovation education,” said Jeff Snell, a principal author of the proposal and campus leader for the Social Innovation Initiative at Marquette. “In many ways, social innovation is in Marquette’s institutional DNA; our mission lends itself to solving social problems, thereby honoring human dignity and increasing human capability.”
The Foundation’s grant timeline is 18 months beginning November 1, 2012, though a robust FixesU prototype is expected to be ready for user input in spring 2013.