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Inland Empire could get boost from UC Riverside’s new Center for Social Innovation

By in Press Enterprise on February 11, 2018

By David Downey

UC Riverside‘s School of Public Policy has created a research center to spur greater civic engagement across the Inland Empire, the growth of nonprofit groups and the creation of good-paying jobs for the region’s swelling immigrant and minority population.

University officials are calling it the Center for Social Innovation and have tapped Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy and political science, to be its director. Similar centers exist at USC and Stanford.

“The Inland area is the future of California — future jobs, future housing, future population growth,” a beaming Ramakrishnan said at a reception Friday, Feb.9, at the Riverside Art Museum. About 100 community leaders were there.

Ramakrishnan said the center will encourage the region of Riverside and San Bernardino counties to become a hotbed of social innovation.

As it stands now, he said, the region ranks among metropolitan areas having lower volunteer rates and a smaller per capita concentration of nonprofits. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the two-county region had a 19.3 percent volunteer rate in 2015, and ranked 47th out of the 51 largest metropolitan areas.

Ramakrishnan said they will focus on four topics: civic engagement, immigration, economic mobility, and leadership and entrepreneurship.

He said there are plans to introduce a nonprofit fellowship program at UCR and launch a Nonprofit Summer Institute in a few months.

The center will operate with a $700,000 annual budget and a staff of nine, including six faculty members and three support staffers, he said.

Three institutions provided a total of $1.9 million in grants: The James Irvine Foundation, Weingart Foundation and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, he said, to help get the center off the ground and ensure funding for the first few years.

Don Howard, president and chief executive officer of The James […]    

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