In early 2015, we launched The J.M.K. Innovation Prize, seeking out social entrepreneurs across the United States who are spearheading game-changing solutions to our society's most urgent challenges. Why an Innovation Prize? Innovation is in our DNA. From The J.M. Kaplan Fund's inception 70 years ago as a New York -- based family foundation, we have championed risky, early-stage endeavors focusing on longstanding subject areas of cultural heritage, human rights, and the built and natural environments. So with the support of social entrepreneurship experts and hundreds of nominators and reviewers, we embarked on the Prize to leverage this legacy of catalytic grant-making in the field of social innovation -- an area of enormous promise for the philanthropic community as well as civic organizations, government, advocacy groups, and citizens seeking powerful new ways to make positive change happen.
We're floored by the groundswell of ideas we received. To share our excitement -- and all we've learned about the tools and tactics of social innovators -- what follows is an exploration of the more than one thousand Innovation Prize entries, distilled into seven takeaways we think offer key insights for the future of social entrepreneurship.