The President highlighted the work of innovative non-profits from across the country today at the White House. The event brought together lawmakers, non-profits, foundations, education leaders and leaders from the private sector. The diverse audience heard from the Harlem Children’s Zone, HopeLab, Bonnie CLAC and Genesys Works, who shared their stories about how their programs are improving their communities. These programs, and those like them, have demonstrated results in their neighborhoods and represent exciting opportunities for community solutions nationwide.
The President thanked the group for their hard work, noting that although their work is always important, there is no better time than now for creating innovative solutions to our nation’s problems:
And finally, I want to thank all of you here today for everything you're doing to find new solutions to some of our oldest, toughest problems. I know what you do is not easy. I know that for many of you, the hours are long, the pay could be better -- let's face it. But I also know the difference that each of you make. I know the lives that you change every single day. You teach us that there's no such thing as a lost cause if you're willing to be creative, and challenge the conventional wisdom, and take some risks -- if you're willing to try, and fail, and then try again until you find something that works. And today, I want to recognize that pioneering spirit and thank you all for the contributions that you're making to our communities.
Government can only do so much, so these organizations are critical to helping rebuild our country. The President explained that we need to take these creative programs and work to implement them nationwide:
The bottom line is clear: Solutions to America's challenges are being developed every day at the grass roots -- and government shouldn't be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts. Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results-oriented programs like the ones here today and helping them replicate their efforts across America.
So if the Harlem Children's Zone can turn around neighborhoods in New York, then why not Detroit, or San Antonio, or Los Angeles or Indianapolis? If Bonnie Clac can help working people purchase cars and manage their finances in New Hampshire, then they can probably do it in Vermont or all across New England, or all across America.
To help do this, the President called on organizations to work together so that they will have the resources they need to make the biggest impact. This is the idea behind the $50 million innovation fund, which is included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that the President signed earlier this spring. This fund will find and evaluate some of the most promising non-profits in communities across the country and help provide funding, with the help of private investments, for the most successful ones.
Touching on another kind of service, the President also noted in his remarks that today American troops transferred control of all Iraqi cities to Iraqi security forces. He explained that the fact that Iraqis have been celebrating this milestone is a testament to the hard work of every American who has served in Iraq.