On June 10th and 11th, the Veracity Media team attended the 2015 Social Innovation Summit. The two-day conference brought together hundreds of social innovation industry leaders, government representatives, and corporate giants from around the country.
Different stories were told about work being done in DC, and around the world, featuring low- and high-tech solutions to the world’s biggest (and sometimes microscopic) problems. We attended sessions covering topics from "next generation social impact" to "collaborate to grow the women and girls digital revolution."
In this blog, our team discusses what we learned in our time there, and the takeaways we picked up over the course of this amazing experience.
The opportunity to attend this year’s Social Innovation Summit was a huge education in how philanthropy can be applied to business. The opportunity to hear real leaders and innovators discuss their projects, their results, and their aspirations for real world change enlightened my understanding, as well as my appreciation for the sheer scale of the projects being worked on. From an airline putting books in the hands of children to engineers learning and adapting their knowledge to fighting disease around the world (and the effectiveness of HeroRATS), the projects on display, together, show how people can work together to change the world.
I am so happy to have had the incredible opportunity to attend this conference and learn so many innovative and applicable ideas from such accomplished people. One lesson that particularly stuck with me is to identify and pursue a unified purpose in every action I take. To hear pragmatic (and motivational) stories of success by industry leaders such as Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera, and Nate Hurst, Global Director of Environmental and Living Progress for HP, was a unique experience. This conference supplied me not just with the inspiration to succeed, but with the information to do so too. Next year's conference can't come soon enough.
"The success of a company is tied to your purpose" #sis15— Zachary Schaffer (@ZacharySchaffer) June 10, 2015
"I was moved by the young people who spoke -- from Jack Andraka, who invented a method of detecting pancreatic cancer armed with only an 8th grade biology education, to 18 year old Justin Bachman, who tackles tough questions about teen suicide. Justin encourages kids to embrace their differences through Honor Good Deeds. And last but not least, listening to one my heroes, Megan Smith, the chief technology officer of the United States, was pretty incredible."
— Naomi Rothwell (@Naomi_Rothwell) June 10, 2015
#SIS15 was the “Who’s who” of social entrepreneurship and change. The number of good ideas at this conference, combined with the know-how, funding, and willpower to get them done, will undoubtedly leverage tech to make the world a better place.
I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go to this conference and hear from some truly inspirational people. I was particularly fascinated by Bart Weetjens who trains rats in landmine and TB detection. It taught me that my previous preconceptions of rats were wrong, and they actually have the ability to save lives! I was also grateful for the diversity of speakers at the conference, with each one teaching me something new and important, ranging from the importance of choices, to the differences within all of us.
The Social Innovation Summit was an experience like no other. I’ve attended many conferences in my role at Veracity Media, but I truly enjoyed the diversity and focus on social impact at this one. It also helped that it took place in DC, right in our backyard! Seeing giants like Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman or White House CTO Megan Smith, both great leaders who I’ve been following for sometime, take to the stage and discuss the radical and rapid changes in scalable innovation as well as the work that’s ahead was both thought provoking and inspiring. However, my favorite moment was witnessing Veracity Media’s Zach Schaffer meet Jen Psaki from the State Department, someone who he has long admired.
The Social Innovation Summit highlighted that whether connecting through music, technology, or shared emotions and experiences, people and organizations are uniting and working together in new ways to improve society. Hearing about organizations partnering up that I had previously thought of as having conflicting goals — like big business, and hyperlocal community-based-organizations — was eye-opening, and left me encouraged, and hopeful.
In a place like DC, where gridlock and alternatives seem to be the common atmosphere, it's easy to find yourself with a very pessimistic world view. Last week's Social Innovation Summit was such a breath of fresh air! Seeing corporate leaders come together to hear and invest in the great work nonprofits across the country-- it was truly inspiring.
As you can see, the Social Innovation Summit was a unique opportunity to collaborate with our country's top thinkers and innovators. We certainly feel that these conversations were fruitful, and we are excited to bring back all that we learned and incorporate those ideas into our workflow.
As Howard Fineman said on the last day of the conference, "Let's do something positive for the world."