Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Blog
- Posted byon August 7, 2009 at 4:47 PM ESTKudos to the FCC for finding innovative ways to engage the public in an on-going dialogue about a National Broadband Plan to bring broadband to all Americans. I attended yesterday’s opening workshop – the first of more than 20 such workshops at the FCC. If you weren’t there live, you could have watched it on the web or participated in Second Life. And if you missed it, you can join in the Open Government Broadband Brainstorm at http://fcc-opengov.ideascale.com/ where the FCC is seeking examples from you and your communities about how broadband is being used to achieve a host of national priorities.The inaugural workshop was on open government and civic engagement. The FCC and the Administration want your ideas on innovative ways to use broadband to more effectively interact with the government on issues you care about. And if you have broadband examples you can share on education, energy, healthcare, or in areas not thought of before, the Broadband Brainstorm has a place to suggest broadband examples on all these topics. You can discuss the examples that are submitted and vote on the best ones which will then rise to the top. It should be fun to watch, participate, and learn as the brainstorm stays open and develops throughout the course of the workshops.Scott Deutchman is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications
- Posted byon August 6, 2009 at 9:05 AM ESTThe President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST, is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, appointed by the President to augment the science and technology advice he receives from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other federal agencies. PCAST offers insights, and in many cases makes policy recommendations, concerning the full range of issues where understandings from the domains of science, technology, and innovation are relevant to the policy choices before the President. PCAST is administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which I direct in parallel with my role as science and technology advisor to the President.As you can see from the member roster, PCAST is populated by a spectacular cast of leaders of the science and technology community. The 21 members include 4 winners of MacArthur "genius" awards, 3 Nobel laureates, 2 university presidents, as well as 16 members of one or more of the U.S. national academies of science, engineering, and medicine. At its meeting Thursday and Friday — the first meeting of the full Obama PCAST — the group will be hearing from a number of Administration officials who deal with science and technology issues. The first public session starts at 10:15 Thursday and the full agenda is visible here. Watch the live-stream of the meeting below:[UPDATE: This event has now concluded]The largest part of the committee’s attention over the two days will be focused on the selection of the topics to which PCAST will be giving highest-priority attention in the months immediately ahead. The President will meet with PCAST on Friday to weigh in with his own thoughts on these priorities. (Everybody gets a say, but his say is the final one!) Candidate topics include the roles of science and technology in job creation, economic recovery, and growth; research and development strategy for clean-energy technologies; the science of adaptation to climate change; the science and technology of homeland security; extending internet connectivity to all Americans; and a strategy for strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math education in this country.It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be working on these issues in an Administration led by a President so appreciative of the potential of science and technology to help meet the many challenges our country faces. I know all my colleagues in PCAST feel the same way. I hope you will gain something of an appreciation for the excitement and enthusiasm as well as the ideas we are bringing to this work as you watch the proceedings of this inaugural PCAST meeting — a meeting, by the way, that, through webcasting on the OSTP website embodies the President’s oft-stated commitment to using technology to make government more open, transparent, and collaborative.Dr. John P. Holdren is the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Posted byon August 6, 2009 at 8:15 AM ESTAs we told you yesterday, the President announced $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funds designated for the manufacturing of advanced batteries and electric vehicles. As part of this unprecedented investment, Michigan will receive more than one billion in grants, the most of any state, and the Vice President was in Detroit yesterday to make the announcement. In his remarks, he explained that the United States must build on Detroit's rich past in order for the state's economy, which is dominated by the automobile industry, to recover. The grants are designed to do just that – by spurring innovation, they will create jobs while making Detroit an industry leader in the 21st century.
- Posted byon August 5, 2009 at 2:57 PM ESTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.The President spoke directly and personally to the audience in Elkhart County, Indiana today: "For as the world grows more competitive, we can't afford to run the race at half-strength or half-speed. If we hope to lead this century like we did the last century, we have to create the conditions and the opportunities for places like Elkhart to succeed. We have to harness the potential – the innovative and creative spirit – that's waiting to be awakened all across America." Continuing his effort to establish a 21st century clean energy economy, the President announced an unprecedented $2.4 billion investment in 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects, funded through the Recovery Act. The projects were selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, and these innovative ideas will help propel America forward as we work to establish the next generation of advanced vehicles.The $2.4 billion is the single largest investment ever in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric drive vehicles, and coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost share from the award winners, it will result in the creation of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs that are much needed in places like Elkhart. Places like Elkhart have been hit particularly hard as manufacturing jobs have disappeared, but this new investment provides $39 million for Navistar to create or save hundreds of jobs in Elkhart.This investment also demonstrates the President’s commitment to innovation, which is key to creating the jobs of the future right here in America:Now, history should be our guide. The United States led the world's economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation. Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that's why innovation is more important than ever. That's the key to good, new jobs in the 21st century. That's how we will ensure a high quality of life for this generation and future generations. With these investments, we're planting the seeds of progress for our country, and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people.So that's why I'm here today – to announce $2.4 billion in highly competitive grants to develop the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks powered by the next generation of battery technologies all made right here in the U.S. of A. (Applause.) Right here in America. (Applause.) Made in America. (Applause.)For too long, we failed to invest in this kind of innovative work, even as countries like China and Japan were racing ahead. That's why this announcement is so important: This represents the largest investment in this kind of technology in American history.See, I'm committed to a strategy that ensures America leads in the design and the deployment of the next generation of clean-energy vehicles. This is not just an investment to produce vehicles today; this is an investment in our capacity to develop new technologies tomorrow. This is about creating the infrastructure of innovation.The President closed his remarks by acknowledging the realities of the recession, because even as progress is made, families continue to struggle. But as he explained, these tough times also present great opportunity for rebuilding a stronger foundation for our country:Energy and innovation, health care and education – these are the pillars of the new foundation that we have to build. This is how we won't just rescue the economy, but we're going to rebuild it stronger than before.Now, there are a lot of people out there those who are looking to defend the status quo. There are those who want to seek political advantage. They want to oppose these efforts. Some of them caused the problems that we got now in the first place, and then suddenly they're blaming other folks for it. (Applause.) They don't want to be constructive. They don't want to be constructive; they just want to get in the usual political fights back and forth. And sometimes that's fed by all the cable chatter on the media.But you and I know the truth. We know that even in the hardest times, against the toughest odds, we have never surrendered. We don't give up. We don't surrender our fates to chance. We have always endured. We have worked hard, and we have fought for our future. Our parents had to fight for their future; our grandparents had to fight for their future. That's the tradition of America. This country wasn't built just by griping and complaining. It was built by hard work and taking risks. (Applause.) And that's what we have to do today.
- Posted byon July 31, 2009 at 10:20 AM ESTSince the President spoke to us last month about his "community solutions" agenda, a number of people have asked me, "What exactly do community solutions look like?" Well, many of us already have them in our own neighborhoods – innovative answers to our local challenges, creative and results-oriented solutions just waiting to be discovered. This is precisely what I found when I visited EverybodyWins! in Des Moines, Iowa last week.Back in 1991, five friends with full-time jobs decided that they wanted to make an impact on the low reading and literacy rates of students in their neighborhood. They began by committing just one hour at lunch a week to reading to kids in the local school. Since then, their group has grown into a national youth literacy and mentoring program for low-income elementary students called EverybodyWins! with over 7,000 volunteers that serve more than 9,000 public school students in 16 states and the District of Columbia. And their lunch hour volunteering – the "Power Lunch" program – has been proven, through rigorous evaluation, to strengthen reading proficiency and overall academic performance, and enhance students’ attitudes toward and motivation to read.As I wrote in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, EverybodyWins! is exactly the type of community solution that President Obama asked me to identify when he called on his Domestic Policy Council to scour the country for the very best, most innovative, most successful programs in our communities. I also discussed great programs in places from San Francisco to Milwaukee, along with our intention to visit every region of the country to see what is working for them. President Obama has asked Congress for $50 million for a new community innovation fund – to be housed at the Corporation for National and Community Service – to identify these promising programs through a competitive grant process and to provide them with the support they need to grow and expand. And he has challenged foundations, philanthropists, and the private sector to partner in these efforts by providing resources, advice, and matching funds so that community solutions can be replicated all across our nation.I recently visited the EverybodyWins! Iowa chapter at the Carver Community School in Des Moines. I spent time reading out loud with Sandy and Diane. And I sat down with staff and volunteers to discuss how the Des Moines chapter has gained strength since its inception in 2003.EverybodyWins! found an Iowa champion in home state Senator Tom Harkin, an EverybodyWins! volunteer in Washington, DC who understood the value of the program from his personal experience... Senator Harkin helped bring together local schools, non-profits, and businesses to successfully fund and launch the program in 2003, creating a strong foundation on which the program has thrived.Tyler Weig, the Executive Director of EverybodyWins! Iowa, cites support from two AmeriCorps volunteers as pivotal to expanding the creativity and reach of the program, doubling the number of students served since 2006. Adam Fanning, one of their AmeriCorps members, has engaged local businesses in innovative ways, including a partnership with a Des Moines taxi company that provides free rides for volunteers. The Carver Community School’s unique relationship with the Boys and Girls Club chapter that is housed within the same facility adds further capacity for serving students during the school year and throughout the summertime and holidays.And success has not slowed down EverybodyWins! Iowa’s drive to do even more. Tyler discussed plans for creating a "Power Breakfast" at the Carver Community School, which will be staffed primarily by local senior citizen volunteers.EverybodyWins! is one of the countless "hidden gems" across the country that is successfully bringing together people from all sectors to address community challenges with solutions proven to work. Stay tuned for more as we search the country over the coming months for other innovative and successful community solutions.And if you know of organizations that are successfully addressing challenges in your community, please tell us about them by emailing email@example.com.Melody Barnes is Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
- Posted byon July 17, 2009 at 4:52 PM ESTOutreach to small and medium-sized businesses is an important priority for this administration. President Obama often speaks of the power that small businesses have in driving our economic recovery. In a speech to small business leaders earlier this year, the President said:Small businesses are the heart of the American economy... They’re not only job generators, they’re also at the heart of the American Dream. After all, these are businesses born in family meetings around kitchen tables. They’re born when a worker takes a chance on her desire to be her own boss. They’re born when a part-time inventor becomes a full-time entrepreneur, or when somebody sees a product that could be better or a service that could be smarter, and they think, "Well, why not me? Let me try it. Let me take my shot.It was with this sentiment in mind that on Wednesday, the White House Office of Public Engagement welcomed over a hundred women entrepreneurs working in life science companies. The enthusiastic group came to us from Springboard Enterprises, a support organization for entrepreneurial ventures led by women.Elizabeth Vale, our Business Liaison in the Office of Public Engagement greeted the group and introduced their board chair, Kay Koplovitz. Kay is the founder of USA Networks and the first woman to found a major television company. She is very passionate about the power of women in business and innovation and was a great kick-off to the meeting.
The women of Springboard then heard details of the President’s agenda in science and technology, health care and energy. They had a chance to ask questions and share ideas with some of the Administration’s leading experts on those issues, including Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, Kavita Patel, Director of Policy for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.Pam Contag, the CEO of Cygnet Biofuels and one of Springboard’s many innovative entrepreneurs, ended the exciting afternoon with an update about some of the new approaches her company is taking on energy. It was a great closing to an informative meeting.Entrepreneurship and innovation have been consistent forces in the growth and prosperity of America. President Obama and his administration understand this and are committed to helping our nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators create jobs and grow our economy.
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