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Social Innovation and Public Service

The term “public and social innovation” as broadly defined by the Voinovich School, is a novel solution to a societal problem that is more effective, efficient or sustainable. The School has a long history of such service, especially in Appalachian Ohio. We help state, county and local governments; nonprofits, state agencies and private foundations by providing innovative applied research, program evaluation and technical assistance and by building leadership and organizational capacity. Examples of our work in this area include:

  • George V. Voinovich Academy for Excellence in Public Service
    The Academy provides local and state government with customized, interactive leadership training taught by experienced public sector executives and Ohio University faculty. Depending on agency preference and need, these typically include multiple half- or full-day session stretched over several months to a year, covering topics ranging from crisis management and communicating with the media to service innovation and public private partnerships.
  • Child Abuse Neglect and Prevention
    The Voinovich School provides coordinated leadership for all child abuse and neglect prevention services in 23 Ohio counties as part of its partnership with the Children’s Trust Fund. Since beginning in 2016, the School’s faculty, professional staff and students have completed a needs assessment for each county and worked with the Councils to develop 5-year prevention plans. They are currently in the implementation phase, working with Councils to identify and evaluate services to address communities’ unmet needs related to child abuse and neglect prevention.
  • Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE)
    Started in 2017, SEE provides no-cost consulting and capital access assistance to social enterprises, which are entities that have a social mission (such as health, education, environment, community development) and also sell goods or services. They can take any enterprise form, such as non-profit, corporate or LLC. SEE has already assisted more than 90 social enterprises to create over 70 jobs and generate over $9.5 million in economic activity. SEE is also gaining national attention for its work on Social Return on Investment, an evidence-based method for measuring social impact in financial terms (e.g. for every $1 invested, a specific social enterprise generates over $40 of social impact.)

Applied Learning

As part of our educational mission, the Voinovich School engages students and Voinovich Undergraduate Research Scholars to work closely with faculty and staff on these projects. Experiences vary, but opportunities include conducting and analyzing surveys, focus groups, and interviews; contributing to curriculum development and implementation; assisting with community meeting facilitation; and developing public reports, presentations and infographics.

  • Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship: Using Business Tools for Environmental

    The Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs has long educated and engaged students in solving business, social, and environm...
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  • Building Bridges to Careers

    Building Bridges to Careers, supported by multiple regional partners including Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, en...
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  • Mayors' Partnership for Progress

    The Mayors’ Partnership for Progress, supported by Ohio University’s School of Leadership and Public Affairs, brings together mayors and city managers...
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Projects and Initiatives

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Reports and Publications

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  • Social Enterprise in Central Ohio: Needs and Opportunities

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  • Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Project (RFL-ASAP)

    Researchers from the Voinovich School and other Ohio University departments worked with RFL-ASAP to provide research and consulting for the Byrne Crim...
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  • Assessing the Impact of the Athens Farmers Market [2013]

    At the request of the Athens Farmers Market (AFM) and a member of the Athens City Council, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public...
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