Highlights from the Social Innovation Summit ‘15

Last Wednesday and Thursday, business leaders, advocates, politicians, and other changemakers convened at the twice annual Social Innovation Summit in Washington, DC. Speakers ranging from former NFL linebacker, Brian Banks, to the White House’s U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith joined to envision the future of social movements, including how to increase access to education on a global scale. GBC-Education’s Global Education Platform Director Adam Braun spoke about his journey in rural Guatemala where he discovered how deep the desire for education truly was — and the importance of tapping into technology to deliver it. Also in attendance were several GBC-Education members, including PwC, Microsoft, Discovery Communications, HP, Intel, Salesforce, and Western Union. Read on to learn more about the topics raised at the conference.

Adam Braun led a talk on aligning business interests with social needs by redefining nonprofits. He called on nonprofits to reinvent themselves as “for purpose” organizations because, in his own words, “[nonprofits are] not here to minimize resources, [they’re] here to maximize impact.” He also interwove his experience helping children learn English in a Guatemalan village through recording himself reading the bible aloud.


Talya Bosch, Vice President – Social Ventures, Western Union moderated a panel on addressing social solutions — whether through technology, as Vodafone does, or through motivating entrepreneurs. Speakers included those representing Vodafone, MTV World, JPMorgan, and the U.S. Department of State. Nusrat Durrani, General Manager & Senior Vice President, MTV World spoke about the importance of youth advocacy for social change, like the youth leaders rising Up For School in the civil rights movement of our time.


Carrie Hammer, a sales-executive-turned-fashion-designer, used the example of launching her clothing line at New York Fashion Week last winter to discuss getting attention when you need and want it. According to Hammer, to make things go viral you need a “virus.” In order to effectively disseminate that virus, you need to imagine yourself as the carrier cell for the virus and bring that social issue into everything you’re doing. Hammer says her virus is the power of positivity.


Carrie at the Social Innovation Summit talking #rolemodelsnotrunwaysmodels #sis15 @socinnovation
A photo posted by CARRIE HAMMER (@carriehammer) on

PwC’s Corporate Responsibility Leader Principal Shannon Schuyler moderated a talk with Huffington Post Global Editorial Director, Howard Fineman. They spoke about leveraging the dialogue of news to offer solutions in addition to commentary as PwC is doing in their new Huffington Post column: “What’s Working: Purpose + Profit.”


Robert Fogarty, the creator of the Dear World social experiment, even made an appearance.


Love this. #sis15 via @lschwech
A photo posted by Social Innovation Summit (@socinnovation) on

And of course, #SIS15 wouldn’t be complete without a rendition of this Bob Marley favorite: