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Jan. 10

2012 – The Year to Accelerate Social Change

Jay CranmanToday's guest post is written by Jay Cranman, a hands-on leader, entrepreneur and all-around problem solver.  Jay serves as the VP, Venture Development for the Civic Incubator, a platform from which social entrepreneurs are able to launch and scale new ventures.   He serves on several Boards for Atlanta-based nonprofits and is passionate about education, the economy, and really good apple pie.

Happy New Year!  I’m looking forward to 2012.

Before I look forward, let me first take a moment to reminisce.  Today marks my 1-year anniversary with Points of Light.  After a 14-year career as a strategy and technology consultant, I decided to make the plunge into the nonprofit sector.  And 2011 proved to be quite the wild ride – exciting, scary, fun, and at times overwhelming.

I felt lost much of the time, and only after 12-months do I finally feel like I’m gaining traction.  I no longer make rookie mistakes…like calling a surplus a “profit” or an MOU a “contract”.  I no longer have to run to Google to learn what BCLC, NCVS, CVC, CNCS, or CSC mean (can someone please buy a vowel).  Worst of all, I find myself using terms like “theory of change” and “capacity building” with such ease that my wife no longer has any idea what I’m talking about.

All in, I feel like I belong and am thankful for the patience and grace I’ve been given over the last year.

With my sea legs under me, I’m ready for 2012 to be a breakout year for the Civic Incubator.  We continue to push the envelope on social innovation and have set a foundation over the last 2 years from which we can grow.

Over the last 3 months, we have been participating in an accelerator program at Georgia Tech called Flashpoint.  It has been a transformative experience for me personally, but professionally it has been a true blessing …where we have experienced the new emerging science of lean startups, customer acquisition and business model canvas.

In addition, we have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with 17 amazing startups, have access to proven entrepreneurs and investors, and have been pushed to new heights of innovation.  The program is finishing up in January with pitch events in Atlanta, New York (at Union Square Ventures) and in San Francisco (at Andreessen Horowitz).  While we won’t be sharing the stage with the other teams, we will be there in the audience to cheer and root them on.

Most exciting for me personally, we are set to launch our own accelerator program in 2012 focused specifically on civic ventures.   Our vision is to launch hundreds of innovative new solutions to social problems and engage hundreds of thousands of people in the process.  Yes, you read that right – hundreds of solutions and hundreds of thousands of people engaged.   And we are confident that we can hit this goal by combining two of the most promising trends happening today…the power of people to drive change and the disruptive nature of entrepreneurs and startups.  Sparks will fly!

And if you are reading this blog, you can say you were one of the first people to learn about the new Civic Accelerator program launching at Points of Light.  And if you happen to be an entrepreneur or investor working on an idea to engage people in solving our nation’s most intractable problems, we’d love for you to tell us about the work you’re doing.

By next year I hope to report back that I’ve finally figured out what “Theory of Change” really means.  Until then, have a great year and lets all keep swinging for the fences!

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