Social entreneurship, now & then

In her recent HuffPost blog, YouthBuild founder and CEO Dorothy Stoneman writes that “social entrepreneurship” has actually been around for a long time: “The idea that individuals create solutions to social problems, raise philanthropic dollars to replicate them, and then ‘take them to scale’ with public funds, to solve the big problems across the land, is not really new. But the relatively new title of ‘social entrepreneur’ has caught the imagination of foundations and public leaders, and attracts the idealistic activists who feel that creating something wonderful is more satisfying than attacking something that isn't working.”

Stoneman describes her experience as director of the East Harlem Block Schools in the 1960s - a bold experiment that challenged the usual relationships between parents and community that we (still) see in the public schools. The schools put parents in charge. “With the parents as my boss,” Stoneman writes, “I had to learn how to use my skills in a respectful way, to share the full information and challenges facing me as executive director with them, to think together about solutions, and to defer to their deepest convictions … They had the power and the insight; I had important information and skills; together we had what we needed.”

If this sounds fascinating and you want to find out more, you are in luck.  As Stoneman notes, Morningside Center executive director Tom Roderick “wrote a wonderful book about the East Harlem Block Schools … called A School of Our Own. I recommend it for all who are trying to build a community-based school or trying to understand the principles of accountability to community residents.”

Copies of the book are available from the author for $20 per copy. Please make checks payable to Tom Roderick and mail to: Tom Roderick, Morningside Center, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 550, New York, NY 10115.  For more information, email Tom at: info@morningsidecenter.org.