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BC report says Mass. could lead ‘social innovation movement’

Contact: Bill Yelenak
Phone: 617-428-3637 x122 (office) | 860-919-0369 (cell)

BOSTON – Human services organizations in Massachusetts are in a unique position to lead the social innovation movement, according to a new report from the Center for Social Innovation at the Boston College School of Social Work.

The report, which identifies four categories of social innovation, details the experiences of more than 20 human services agencies in Massachusetts who have implemented social innovation successfully over the last decade to improve their ability to achieve their social missions. Categories of social innovation in the report include innovations in resource development, innovations in products or services offered to clients/program participants, new organizational structures, and customizing existing service models for new populations.

“A range of innovative strategies and practices have been implemented by Providers’ Council members,” said Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College and one of the principal authors of the report. “These examples demonstrate the power of the entrepreneurial path to social innovation.”

Examples of social innovations in the report include a t-shirt shop in Greenfield, catering businesses in Boston, a technological support firm in Franklin and an investment organization in Worcester. All of these social innovations have human services agencies as their parent company, and they have been created to address social problems. Many of them provide employment or job training to clients and consumers, and others are created to help fund social services programs at the parent companies.

“Our members are doing incredible work in building social innovations throughout Massachusetts, and we’re pleased they’re being recognized as leaders in this sector,” said Council President & CEO Michael Weekes. “These innovative models and strategies are important, as these businesses have a double-bottom line: they provide a social benefit to some of our most vulnerable residents and diversify their revenue with effective earned-income strategies. In addition, they’re expanding job creation and increasing the employability of people with challenging circumstances.”

The full Boston College report is now available at the Providers’ Council website (

The Providers' Council, also known as the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc., is the largest statewide membership association for community-based organizations providing social, rehabilitation, education and health care services.