Empowering low-income communities: Freedom, Inc.

Inspiring those with diverse backgrounds
Empowering low-income communities: Freedom, Inc.
Empowering low-income communities: Freedom, Inc.

Members of diverse communities in Dane County who want to bring positive change to their neighborhoods have an advocate in Freedom, Inc. The local group works to inspire low-income communities of color and others of diverse backgrounds to end violence through leadership development and promoting healthy living.

M Adams, co-director of Freedom, Inc., says the group started in Madison’s Southeast Asian community more than fifteen years ago and later expanded to the city’s African American community. She says the two racial groups soon learned that they could address similar issues in their respective communities but in ways that reflect their unique cultures. For example, both groups chose to devote attention to the topic of land. The Southeast Asian community focused on shared gardens to grow crops while their African American counterparts pursued affordable housing.

Empowering low-income communities: Freedom, Inc.

The organization has programs that tackle a variety of social justice issues. Adams says Freedom, Inc.’s vision is to “restore power” to the communities they serve throughout the county.

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Return to the M List 2015: Social Innovations here.