ChangeX ignites a social innovation revolution in America

14 Sep 2016

Carmen Harris speaking about GirlTrek – one of the social innovations running on ChangeX. Image: ChangeX

The US State of Minnesota is to be the bridgehead for a social innovation revolution across America that is being spurred on by an Irish start-up called ChangeX.

ChangeX, a Start-up of the Week, is a not-for-profit focused on supporting social entrepreneurs and, earlier this year – after raising €350,000 in a new funding round – the start-up announced plans to launch in the US.

This week, ChangeX launched in the US, working alongside 10 proven social innovations, including World Savvy, Girl Trek, Roots of Empathy and Men’s Sheds.

‘The number of changemakers we’re getting is continuing to increase dramatically. We recently had our first groups start in the US, demonstrating what’s possible – this could go anywhere!’

Future Human

The launch took in Minneapolis, St Paul and Greater Minnesota.

The aim now is to act as a catalyst for growing and driving these community-led efforts across the state, and to enhance the wellbeing of at least 3,000 people.

Good ideas have no borders

Funded by notable investors – including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Global Ideas Fund at CAF America; Albert Wegner, managing partner at Union Square Ventures; John O’Farrell with Andreessen Horowitz; and Jerry Greenfield from Ben & Jerry’s – ChangeX has focused its efforts on the Irish market to date, having launched here almost two years ago.

Over the past year, the start-up saw an average growth of 120pc per month, with over 1,600 people and teams starting ideas in their communities with ChangeX support, benefitting more than 40,000 people.

Building on this experience, ChangeX is aiming to initially establish 100 local innovations in Minnesota over the coming months, improving the wellbeing of an estimated 3,000 people.

“Good ideas really have no borders. We’re eager to explore how the ChangeX platform developed in Ireland can help people tap into innovative solutions to improve their own communities in the US,” said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation director Karabi Acharya.

The Minnesotan innovators include World Savvy, who work with students, teachers and leaders to reimagine education in a global context, so that all students can contribute to their communities, locally and globally, in a more interconnected age.

Girl Trek is a national health movement that activates thousands of black women to be change makers in their lives and communities – through walking.

To date, GirlTrek has inspired nearly 75,000 women in 35 states from inactivity to activity by getting them to commit to a daily habit of walking, and has quickly become the go to public health organisation for African-American women and their families.

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program from Canada that reduces levels of aggression among schoolchildren while raising social and emotional competence, and increasing empathy.

ChangeX is also looking for great ideas from Minnesota to spread on the platform.

“ChangeX is a really critical part of our business and has effectively become our tool for finding and keeping local champions,” explained Michael Kelly, CEO and founder of GIY (Grow It Yourself), a global community of people who grow some of their own food.

“The number of change makers we’re getting is continuing to increase dramatically. We recently had our first groups start in the US, demonstrating what’s possible – this could go anywhere!”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years