Breaking from old practice to achieve social change.


In our rapidly changing world, social and environmental problems are increasingly complex and dynamic. Solutions that worked yesterday may not have the same impact today. Therefore, continuous innovation is required to ensure that solutions keep pace and that social impact organizations can achieve their missions.

Building on our legacy of innovation over the last century, The Rockefeller Foundation’s innovation portfolio of work aims to enable organizations to build the knowledge, capacity, and tools to more effectively solve the problems of the 21st century.

Social Innovation Labs

In 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation launched a project to understand the value of social innovation labs in accelerating solutions to complex social and environmental problems. We supported and worked with six social innovation lab grantees from around the world, integrating the labs into our work on issues like U.S. youth unemployment, improvement in the livelihoods of small scale fishers, and others. We developed a number of tools and resources as we continue to learn more about the potential social innovation labs hold in addressing the challenges of the world’s poor or vulnerable.

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Social Impact Bonds

Sitting at the nexus of the Foundation’s work in scaling innovation and impact investing, social impact bonds (SIBs), like ‘pay-for-success’ projects, represent one component of the rapidly growing field of innovative finance, aimed at helping state and local governments fund critical social programs through a combination of government initiation, private investment, and non-profit implementation. In the SIB model, the private sector works with governments and philanthropies to fund critical prevention focused social programs that help address the world’s most pressing problems. In this public-private partnership, investors are only repaid if and when improved social outcomes are achieved. SIBs have the potential to open new funding sources for prevention-oriented programs that deliver measurable social benefits, saving tax payer dollars in the process.

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