Social Innovation: What You Need to Know


What is social innovation?

Social innovations are more effective, efficient and sustainable solutions to social problems. Individuals and organizations are starting to think about the world differently, to tackle big problems with equally big ideas. Social innovations can be businesses, initiatives, strategies or even concepts that benefit the social good. In a nutshell, social innovation refers to inventive ideas that help people. The Social Innovation Summit is an opportunity for the public to be inspired by our speakers and to explore their own innovative ideas.

How can we work toward new solutions? 

Forward-thinking businesses are showing that social justice isn’t divorced from profit. These socially conscious enterprises serve the community, not just their investors, by creating jobs and important services. WCA believes that by forging strong partnerships between workers and employers and emphasizing their shared interests, businesses can do well while doing good and spur the next wave of economic growth throughout California.

What kind of speakers and seminars can I expect?

This year’s lineup is loaded with creative thinkers and ground-breaking innovators, experts in creative philanthropy, crowdfunding and entrepreneurship.

Why does this matter?

We live in an increasingly complex and interconnected world that demands a new way of thinking. Businesses have to be smarter and more sustainable. Workers need opportunities to fulfill their creative and entrepreneurial potential. By working together, we can create a more prosperous society for all of us.

What does it cost?

Nothing. The Annual Social Innovation Summit is free to anyone who wishes to attend. All you have to do is register here. (Meals are available for purchase.) 

Where is the event?

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

400 W Washington Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Meet the speakers

Meet the social innovators who will be speaking at WCA's third annual Social Innovation Summit on Friday, May 6th.

Marika Anthony-Shaw is the Violist/Violinist and Director of Philanthropy for Arcade Fire, and the founder of the non-profit Plus One.

While playing on stages around the world as a member of the Grammy Award-winning band, Marika Anthony-Shaw recognized the amazing energy of thousands of people coming together to experience something profound and saw an opportunity to shine a light on a cause close to her heart—the people of Haiti. Since ten, she has not only played the violin and viola, but has also managed the band’s philanthropic partnerships with Partners In Health, Kanpe, and other Haitian-led initiatives, which led the band to develop the Arcade Fire Haiti Outreach program, which harnessed that energy and successfully raised more than $500,000 in donations.

Building on that success, Anthony-Shaw formed Plus One, which brings artists, volunteers and concert goers together to bring attention to organizations addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. Plus One’s unique platform donates $1 from every concert ticket sold to humanitarian causes and incorporates other proven fundraising strategies with one-on-one engagement, storytelling, and outreach at concerts.

With eloquence and a tangible passion for helping others, Anthony-Shaw provides audiences with inspiration, insight and creative strategies for making a real difference in the world through the power of harnessing collective energy and positive action.

Daryl Hatton is a Canadian-born entrepreneur and the founder of the crowdfunding platform FundRazr.

 FundRazr is a crowdfunding site and Facebook app first released in 2009. It allows users to set up crowdfunding pages and/or embed fundraising apps on their Facebook pages to raise money for a variety of causes such as medical care, memorials, and animal rescue. Tens of millions of dollars have been raised from over 40,000 individual campaigns. The inspiration for FundRazr came to Hatton during his stint as a children's Lacrosse coach. He had difficulty collecting team fees from each team member, so he decided to try the request through Facebook. The collection was a success and Hatton had realized that social media had become a fundraising tool. Building on the idea, Hatton found social commerce systems company ConnectionPoint Systems Inc. in September, 2008. The company's flagship product, FundRazr, was subsequently launched in 2009. Currently, FundRazr has raised $35-million in the last three years, and $20-million of that in the last year. 

Marc Cota-Robles is a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News. 

He joined ABC7 in June 2014 after spending nearly eight years at KION-TV, the CBS affiliate in Salinas, California. While at KION, Marc served in many roles, including evening news anchor. The station was honored with three consecutive regional Emmy awards for best newscast (small market) in Northern California.

Brian Meece has lectured on the topic of crowdfunding at SXSW, Fulbright, TEDxBrooklyn, White House Roundtables, Maker Faire, and other conferences around the world.

Brian and the RocketHub community were showcased on A&E and in the recent documentary "The Startup Factor.”

Dominique DiPrima is host of the early morning talk radio show The Front Page on Los Angeles radio station KJLH 102.3-FM. Ms. DiPrima is also producer of the program.

Before getting into radio Dominique DiPrima was a television host for San Francisco NBC affiliate KRON-TV. Working on camera as well as in the role of Segment Producer, Dominique garnered five Emmy Awards, six Parents Choice Awards, an Ollie and the SAG/AFTRA American Scene Award for positive portrayals of women, the disabled, senior citizens and people of color.

Dominique is also a dedicated community activist, hosting, marching and speaking at countless community events and demonstrations. She was the Director of the acclaimed Summer of Success violence prevention program in Baldwin Village in 2003 and 2004. And she is on the board of directors for The Community Coalition in South Los Angeles. She was chosen by a committee of Bay Area community based organizations to introduce Nelson Mandela during his first tour of the United States after his release from prison because of her dedication to progressive causes in general and the anti-apartheid movement in particular. Dominique managed to interview Geronimo Jijaga Pratt while he was still incarcerated and her radio program was the first media stop he made when he was freed. She has been recognized for her work in fighting racism by the Los Angeles Human Relation Commission, and for social justice advocacy by the San Francisco Media Alliance. She was recently appointed to the position of Commissioner, for the Commission on the Status of Women, by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Dominique is currently the COO of a film/video production company with her husband Guillermo Cespedes. The South L.A. based business is called YeYe Productions and specializes in work for independent artists and community organizations.

Abby Fifer Mandell is the Executive Director of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab (BSEL) at USC's Marshall School of Business. Abby oversees all BSEL staff, academic offerings, co-curricular programs, events, and initiatives. She designs curriculum for affiliated courses and teaches BAEP 471: Social Innovation Design Lab, an undergraduate course in which interdisciplinary teams of students use design thinking to create product solutions to poverty in California's Central Valley. 

Abby was instrumental in creating LimmudLA, a grassroots, communal learning experience in Southern California. She also serves on the board of Question Box, a hardware and helpline program solution that connects people in remote villages around the world.

Sarah A. Soule is the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. Her major areas of interest are organizational theory, social movements, and political sociology. She has written two recent books, the first with Cambridge University Press, entitled Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility, and the second with Norton, called A Primer on Social Movements. She is the series editor for the Cambridge University Press Contentious Politics series. She is a member of the founding team of the new journal, Sociological Science, an open access journal that is disrupting academic publishing. She has served on a number of boards of nonprofit organizations, is currently a member Board of Advisors to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the Stanford Fellowship program, and also serves on the faculty advisory board to the Stanford Center for the Advancement of Women’s Leadership. She has taught a number of courses with the Stanford, and is the Faculty Director for the Executive Program on Social Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business. She has served as a judge for the Center for Social Innovation Fellowship program, and for the Tech Awards (Tech Museum of Innovation).

Stephen Kirnon is the director of the Social Entrepreneurship and Change program at the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Dr. Kirnon heads the Northern California office of Strawn Arnold Ashpitz Groover, a life science executive search firm, and serves on several biomedical boards. Kirnon is a firm believer in the idea that social entrepreneurship should be a part of every for-profit business model, and has long been involved in both education and transformational leadership development.

David Choi is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University’s Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship. Dr. Choi has had an active career as an academic, consultant and entrepreneur over the last 20 years. He has taught undergraduate and MBA courses in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, social entrepreneurship and technology management at LMU as well as other institutions around the world including Peking University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Korea University. Dr. Choi is a winner of a national teaching award from the United States Association of Business and Entrepreneurship (USABE). He has been featured or quoted in many business publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Los Angeles Business Journal and Business2.0.

Your Labor Day Music Festival Playlist

Check out our Spotify playlist featuring all the great artists who are going to be there at the Labor Day Music Festival. The playlist isn't complete. Leave a comment on Facebook and we'll add your tracks. Maybe the Wailers will take our requests!

While you’re at it, remember to get your tickets so we can get down together.

Creating career opportunities in LA

We’re back and we wanted to take a minute to catch you up on our work over the last four months!

With the holidays right around the corner, we wanted to reflect on the past year and thank you for joining with Working Californians in doing well by doing good. It’s also a time when we are looking forward to the needs of our neighbors and communities, and asking ourselves what we can do to improve them.

Working Californians was created to improve the lives of our neighbors who have been struggling to get work and make ends meet. We are striving to rebuild the economy by rebuilding the middle class. We’re doing this by developing public and private programs that have positive social impact and forging collaborations with industry leaders, community organizations, environmental groups and labor organizations.

In October, WCA partnered with IBEW Local 18 and BHCP Live! to host a Union Jobs Expo and Celebration at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw. With over 20 community organizations present we were also joined by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, and Congresswoman Karen Bass as we celebrated the graduation of over 100 trainees of the IBEW Local 18 & Utility Pre-Craft Training Program. The celebration also featured a concert with the musical talents Masta and the Edge of Soul and the Michael Ward band while community organizations and local unions such as the Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 and Local 709, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, IBEW Locals 11 and 18, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1277 provided information about job training programs. Click here to check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

This past Labor Day we also hosted our third annual Nightshift concert where we celebrated workers and their unions by honoring the history and future of Labor Day here in Los Angeles. The concert featured Grammy nominated artists Eric Benet and Sheila E as well as the Grammy award winning Irvin Mayfield and celebrated the labor victories made this past year and toasted the future of labor in Los Angeles over the coming years. Click here to see photos from the event on Facebook.

We look forward to keeping you up to date on our exciting future ventures. Please keep checking back in to get the latest Working Californians news, updates and event information.

Thank you once again joining us as we continue with a shared commitment in doing well by doing good.

Happy Holidays,

Can Do Attitude


Social innovation comes in many different shapes and sizes. In São Paulo, a mobile recycling center turns discarded soda cans into designer stools thanks to designer duo Alex Groves and Azusa Murakam, who haul around a mobile cart that melts cans using vegetable oil waste collected from local cafes. The team then pours the molten aluminum into molds to make stools that are given to locals as payment for providing materials.

The project, called Can City, relies on recycling to reclaim materials and provide income to waste collectors. Check out the inspiring video below for a look at how Can City is taking eco and social innovation to the streets of São Paulo.

Read the full story here.

Image via Studio Swine

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