A Glance Inside the 2015 Root Cause Social Innovation Forum

2015 Social Innovators, Photo by SIF

This year, the Root Cause Social Innovation Forum named the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) as one of seven nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston to receive more than $135,000 in cash and capacity building services from Root Cause and its partners.  MyRWA was chosen to join the team of 2015 “Social Innovators” for the Urban Sustainability: Greener and More Resilient Cities social issue track, sponsored by the Schrafft Charitable Trust. Other Social Innovators that were chosen include: Catie’s Closet, Company One Theatre, Courageous Parents Network, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Press Pass TV, and Waypoint Adventure.

The objective of the Social Innovation Forum is to help nonprofits become more professional and more effective organizations. Root Cause and the Social Innovation Forum create a rich network of successful and innovative nonprofits, Boston area philanthropic foundations and individual professionals who want to support social change by effectively deploying the resources they have available.

On Tuesday, May 5, the 2015 Social Innovators were given their first opportunity to showcase their work to leaders from the local public, private, and nonprofit sectors at the Root Cause 12th Annual Social Innovator Showcase.

Each Social Innovator was given just five minutes to make a targeted appeal to modern philanthropists who were excited to learn about the work that they do.

“Every word during that five minute pitch was carefully selected.”

- EkOngKar Singh Khalsa

EkOngKar Singh Khalsa (also known as EK), the Mystic River Watershed Association’s Executive Director and MyRWA’s Deputy Director, Patrick Herron along with a team of support spent dozens of hours paring down a 20 minute speech into a five minute informative, engaging, and result driven presentation given in coordination with a professionally prepared PowerPoint and - without the use of a single note card!

“It took a great deal of work to shape the presentation.” - EK

MyRWA was supported by Tanya Inwald, a consultant engaged by the Social Innovation Forum, who worked with EK every step of the way. Tanya evaluated the mission, short and long term goals, strategic plan, funding, and operations of the Association. She asked the tough questions: what exactly was MyRWA accomplishing and how well was the association fulfilling its mission? Following Tanya’s thorough investigation, and graphic arts support from Lily Robles of Opus Design, a powerful PowerPoint presentation was created.

The next step was to concentrate on the delivery of the presentation. Julie Pierce, Managing Director of the High Lantern Group, donated her time and experience by providing strategic communications counsel and support. Julie helped EK discover the best possible way to craft his message to engage stakeholders and advance MyRWA’s objectives. Margie Zohn, Facilitator and Executive Coach from the Ariel Group donated her time to help EK strengthen his presentation skills and presence.

“It was a powerful experience to do this work. It reshaped our understanding of how best to share with the general public, colleagues, and supporters what it is we are doing and how we create social change. One of the strongest realizations we had during this process was to recognize the tremendous impact our work has on the hundreds of thousands of people who live in Mystic River communities.”- EK

As you will see in this video shot by Team SIF, EK’s presentation was a triumph: 2015 Social Innovator Showcase: Mystic River video.

The showcase itself also turned out to be a smashing success with over 300 attendees eager to learn more about each of the 2015 Social Innovators and the work they are currently doing and plan to do with the right amount of funding and support.

“It was interesting to see the confluence of interests we have with other innovators and their work.” - EK

Through the remainder of this 24-month long project, MyRWA staff will continue to receive extensive professional consulting, executive coaching, legal counsel, and other in-kind services. MyRWA will also have the opportunity to participate in various networking events, becoming part of the Social Innovation Forum’s growing circle of nonprofit, business, government, and foundation leaders.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Mystic River Watershed Association to reflect, grow, and then launch ourselves into the next chapter of our work with the extraordinary support and guidance of the Social Innovation Forum.” - EK

MyRWA couldn’t be happier about this exciting partnership. We are thrilled to be a part of the SIF Team including so many wonderful innovators that came before us. Thank you to all those that have helped us thus far on this new journey and to all those that will continue to believe in us and invest in us in the future.

“MyRWA is the voice of this river and is leading the way to a healthy Mystic for everyone!” - EK

Posted by Andrea Ritter