Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Innies


A slightly overcast and humid morning but little can dampen my good mood.   Today, the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) awarded the first "Innies" -- the New York City Innovative Nonprofit Awards -- with a breakfast ceremony at Gracie Mansion presided over by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.  The Center didn't win the big prize (that went to GreenCity Force) but we were among the ten non-profits honored for using data to fight poverty in innovative ways.   We were recognized in particular for the work we have done in Red Hook to help low-level defendants avoid incarceration and lead productive, law-abiding lives.  In my grip-and-grin opportunity with the Mayor, he fondly remembered touring the Justice Center with Amanda Burden and meeting Judge Calabrese before he became Mayor.

While it is always fun to receive a little recognition, the best part of the ceremony came at the end when one of the staffers from CEO came up to (re)introduce herself to me.  While I didn't recognize her, she was
part of the original Youth Justice Board class (2004 I believe).   After leaving the Board, she went to college, then became an Urban Fellow, before joining CEO to work on social innovation.  She credited the Youth Justice Board with sparking her interest in government and giving her the confidence that she could be an active participant in the process.  A living, breathing example that our work makes a difference on both the lives of individuals and in policy circles...hard to beat that for a pick-me-up on a grey Wednesday morning.