2013 abc* Continuity Forum boosts innovative ideas to help society

Communities / Article

Knight Foundation supports the 2013 abc* Continuity Forum to provide a platform for social entrepreneurs and innovators to win support for ideas that propose solutions to challenges facing our communities. Jane Goodall, pictured above in 2011, is a speaker. Below, Camilo Galvis, executive director of the abc* Foundation, writes about this week’s forum. Photo credit: Flickr user World Bank Photo Collection.

How do we ensure a future where all people have the economic opportunities they need to reach their full potential without depleting the environment that sustains us all? 

It’s a common but critical question—and there are no easy answers. That’s why the abc* Foundation, with support from Knight Foundation, is providing a platform for the world’s leading innovators this week at the 2013 Continuity Forum at the New World Center in Miami Beach.  

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On Nov. 6 and 7, leaders from a wide variety of sectors, including Arianna HuffingtonLarry SummersDavid AxelrodJane Goodall and Buzz Aldrin, are convening to not only discuss the greatest challenges facing society and the environment today, but also how they see these challenges evolving. Between those presentations, 21 of the most creative and entrepreneurial innovators will present their ideas for meeting these challenges head on in the Americas.

Our motivation for creating the Continuity Forum grew out of the abc* Foundation’s unique perspective on philanthropy. 

First, applying business principles, we are obsessed with achieving a quantifiable, positive impact on society and the environment. For each initiative we support, we strive to achieve measurable objectives that we establish together with the recipients of our support. 

Second, we respect our own limitations as a philanthropic organization, focusing our efforts on those initiatives where we believe we can demonstrate impact for the largest numbers of people per dollar invested. This means looking for initiatives that we can help to replicate in other locations or scale up dramatically in a sustainable way.

Third, we play an ongoing, active role in the initiatives we invest in throughout the entire period of our engagement. And we compete head-on with the private sector for the best professionals to manage our project portfolio and to pursue each initiative’s objectives.

At this week’s Continuity Forum, we’ll select three new initiatives to support out of the 21 presented. In addition to financial support, we’ll provide each initiative with ongoing advisory services, media exposure and connections to our network throughout the Americas and beyond that can help maximize its chances of growing and achieving a sustainable future.

Because this is our third Continuity Forum, we’ll also begin presenting updates on the initiatives we have been supporting during the last two years. 

Working with Luis Orlando Castro, we have begun to envision a world without landfills. Luis developed a high-efficiency biotechnology that converts organic waste within our garbage into 100 percent organic fertilizer, leaving the inorganic waste to be recycled. We’re supporting Luis by bringing in the right partners and creating the required equity structure with private-, public- and multilateral-sector partners, to begin implementing the technology at sites in Mexico and Colombia.

By supporting the organization La Tablée des Chefs, we have begun replicating a food redistribution model in Mexico that has been very successful in Canada. We’re brokering relationships with hotels, arenas, large corporations and other places that produce high volumes of food with homeless shelters and soup kitchens, so that food is repurposed to serve a social good instead of going to waste. The model also generates revenues that allow for self-sustainability, which may one day allow refrigerated containers full of repurposed food to move between cities and even countries.

And through our work with Carlos Cruz and Cauce Ciudadano, we’re supporting one of the most effective crime and crisis prevention models that we have ever seen. Even in the face of challenging political realities, his methods are saving taxpayers from the expense of incarceration by reducing recidivism among youth from 92 percent to 27 percent .

The initiatives we selected for support at past Continuity Forums are proving to be models for addressing other serious societal and environmental challenges, such as protecting ocean ecosystems, helping farmers access local and international markets and providing affordable health insurance to families who have never had access to a comprehensive health care system before.

Our past success is increasing my anticipation as we prepare to select the next three initiatives. The 21 innovators will present their ideas in Miami Beach this week, and we’ll announce the selections in three weeks’ time. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter to catch highlights from the Continuity Forum and to hear which ideas we’ll help carry forward.