Nominate a Change Maker

UCR establishes an award to recognize social innovation efforts of alumni, faculty, students and staff

Bell_tower_blueRIVERSIDE, California – UC Riverside alumni, faculty, students and staff have a long history of social innovation, from working to preserve the cultural heritage of New Orleans in Katrina’s wake and continuing the fight for civil rights and immigrant rights to developing innovative policies to eradicate poverty.

The UCR Committee on Social Innovation is establishing a Change Maker award to recognize the contributions of alumni, students, staff and faculty to social innovation. Nominations are due by Monday, Sept. 19, and may be made online. The committee will share inspiring stories on its website starting in October, and will honor a select group of Changer Makers on Nov. 10 at the UCR Living the Promise Symposium on Social Innovation and Empowerment.

Social Innovation is one of the key themes identified in UCR 2020, the university’s academic strategic plan, explained Maria Anguiano, vice chancellor for planning and budget and co-chair of the Committee on Social Innovation.

“UC Riverside is a top-tier university that is in a period of strategic growth and innovation, guided by UCR 2020,” Anguiano said. “We are significantly expanding our faculty, enhancing our focus on student research and organizational excellence, and deepening our relationships with alumni and stakeholders. We are proud that the UCR family has worked creatively to solve some of the most pressing social problems, and we know they will continue to do so. They are not engaged in ‘business as usual.’ We want to recognize social innovators who are developing novel solutions that are more effective, efficient and sustainable.”

In addition to Anguiano, the Committee on Social Innovation is led by Eddie Comeaux, associate professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education, and Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of the School of Public Policy. In addition to their university roles, Anguiano serves on the board of the James Irvine Foundation; Ramakrishnan serves on the board of The California Endowment; and Comeaux brings two decades of leadership and service with urban youth organizations in California.

Change Makers can come from the for-profit, government or nonprofit sectors locally, nationally or internationally. Their social innovation work can result from salaried or volunteer efforts and from a variety of topics, such as education, health, poverty or the environment, Ramakrishnan said.

“By social innovation we mean programs and activities that enhance social value in novel and meaningful ways,” he added. “We are building a mentor and peer network of Change Makers, with future plans for a Center for Social Innovation that includes competitive awards for seed money, incubation space, graduate fellowships, and research positions.”

Social innovation is part of the UCR family’s DNA, Comeaux said.

“It is not surprising that many of our incredibly gifted UCR students, alumni, faculty and staff members have actively embraced the notion of innovation,” Comeaux said. “The UCR community understands that we need innovative champions in order to lead, compete, solve social problems, and generate new knowledge in the 21st century. We are delighted to salute their contributions to social innovation, including their ability to push traditional boundaries in order to create lasting social change.”

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