5 Things to Know About the New Alberta Social Innovation Endowment

March 14, 2014

For Albertans with an interest in addressing complex social issues such as poverty and family violence, the news of a new provincial Social Innovation Endowment was a clear highlight in the recent provincial budget announcement. Still, its potential impact is uncertain. Momentum has been watching the issue and is pleased to share with its community economic development colleagues across the country 5 things people in the field should know:

  1. It is big…really big: In fact, it’s the largest social innovation fund in Canada at $1 billion. The fund will be capitalized over two years with the first $500 million endowed immediately and the second $500 million in next year’s budget.
  2. But endowment disbursements are small: In the first year $22.5 million will be available. In the second year it will be $45 million and after that 4.5% of total endowment funds. Relative to the provincial budget, these are small amounts.
  3. The focus is, well, broad: So broad that culture is included in the working definition of social innovation. This is unusual—arts money has historically been kept separate from social services. It’s too soon to speculate what the impact of this breadth will be, but members of both sectors hope that the overall funding available will grow because of the new endowment.
  4. It is linked to the Social Policy Framework: Alberta’s recently developed Social Policy Framework is directly mentioned in the endowment description. Many have wondered how the SPF will be funded; this endowment may provide part of the answer.
  5. Community Economic Development activities may be on the table: Throughout the announcement, many aspects of CED are mentioned. A multi-sector approach; risk-sharing between non-profits, social enterprises, business and government; research of social finance tools… to Momentum, this sounds like CED.

Momentum will keep its ears open as details become clear. What’s your take on the Social Innovation Endowment announcement? Share your view with us via twitter @momentumcalgary.

Carolyn Davis is the Community Relations Director at Momentum, a Calgary based CED organization and founding member of the Canadian CED Network. Momentum partners with people living on low incomes to increase prosperity and inspires the development of local economies with opportunities for all.