Notes From the Field #3

Hear from 2020 Social Innovators Elevated Thought and WHALE (Waterfront Historic Area League)

The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) is incredibly proud of the work Social Innovators are doing every day. During this crisis, their efforts to maintain connections with their community members and ensure their programs continue to operate while they also pivot to meet new, immediate needs with fewer resources makes it exceptionally clear their work is more important than ever. Many of our funders and volunteers have stepped up with support while others are asking, “How can we help?”

With that in mind, we will regularly share stories from our current cohort of 2020 Social Innovators and Alumni organizations, spotlight members of our funder portfolio who have responded quickly and effectively, and offer additional resources that can help you reflect on a range of different perspectives and experiences of those in our community during the COVID-19 crisis. As you receive these updates, we hope that you will respond and reach out about how you can offer support.

SIF Updates & Events 
  • Join us for our upcoming 2020 Virtual Social Innovator Showcase Series! This year's Showcase event will be a virtual two-part series highlighting our amazing 2020 Social Innovators. Part one is on May 28, and part two is on June 3You must RSVP for each event separately.
  • The SIF team is sending a big thank you to our volunteers who joined us recently to give feedback to our Social Innovators as they practiced their pitches for our virtual Showcase event. It was truly a joy to convene with our Social Innovators, consultants, volunteers, and staff all of whom are engaging in a wide range of activities during this time of social distancing. We took a few minutes to share how we are keeping busy while social distancing and thought we would share some of the ideas. A few of the activities mentioned included on-line craft cocktail making classes and Bollywood dance classes, sending Haiku’s to friends, playing ping-pong, writing handwritten letters to friends and family, painting with watercolors, making masks, hosting theme dinners, coloring hair with bright dyes, creating fantasy vacations, spending time outdoors, and spending time with our pets. It was really nice to reconnect and we appreciated hearing the many ways our community is keeping their spirits up!

Updates from our Portfolio Organizations
Elevated Thought, 2020 Social Innovator 

elevated thought
Elevated Thought believes all young people should have access to creative, wide-ranging learning opportunities. They offer “cross-disciplinary opportunities for learning (arts, humanities, social sciences, philosophy, history) as well as support for youth to take thoughtful steps in choosing professional pathways and preparing themselves for impact and leadership...” With the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Elevated Thought has not paused their work. They continue to provide creative and alternative learning opportunities for youth and communities. The organization is hosting several virtual programs and activities including a coloring book seriesa Podcast platform, and hosting Netflix viewing parties and discussions. One area of challenge for the organization is providing financial stability to its young staff workers. With the closure of workshops, exhibitions, family paint nights, commission projects as well as canceled site visits from new funders, the organization has taken a loss of approximately $115K. 

Elevated Thought is accepting donations to provide staff with stipends as they continue to plan and develop community events and curriculum. Donations will benefit their team in the following ways: ensure the continuation of pay for artists’ work and creative practices, recover their financial losses due to canceled events and contracts, and finally, support artists’ transition to and development of online creative workshops and projects! With each donation (no matter the amount), you will receive a downloadable zine filled with art, photos, poetry, creative prompts, and more from an Elevated Thought staff member as a token of their appreciation.

Make a donation here!
For additional information or questions, please contact Executive Director Marquis Victor at

WHALE, 2020 Social Innovator 

Waterfront Historic Area League’s (WHALE) mission is to foster historic preservation and the continued use of the city’s architectural heritage to enhance community and economic vitality in New Bedford. With many of their housing projects paused due to COVID-19, WHALE has transitioned to stay connected to their community. The organization is creating a live virtual tour series on their Instagram (@waterfrontleaguenb) to showcase their projects and has pivoted all programming and events to a virtual setting. Additionally, WHALE was the historic developer that worked in partnership with the Veterans Transition House (VTH), to save and transform a historic house to create 10 units of veterans transitional housing in New Bedford. In response to the current crisis, the project has temporarily transitioned to become a quarantine zone for veterans affected by COVID-19. WHALE continues to be a vital partner to the community through their affordable housing projects, community theatre restoration, work connecting the waterfront to the historic district, and so much more. 

The best way to help WHALE is by becoming a Member, Soiree Host, or Partner in Preservation. The organization’s programs help them to continue their mission and work. All of these programs benefit WHALE’s Neighborhood Restoration Program, which targets key blighted properties to restore and re-purpose them for community revitalization. As a Community Development Corporation, WHALE is able to offer donors the opportunity to take advantage of the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) Program, which provides a 50% state tax credit for donations of $1,000 or more. For every $1,000 you give, you will receive a $500 state income tax credit.
  1. To learn more and become a Member click here
  2. To learn more and become a Soiree Host click here
  3. To learn more and become a Partner in Preservation click here
  4. To donate to any of WHALE’s programs click here

For additional information or questions, please contact Executive Director Teri Bernert at

Other Resources & Readings 

On April 20, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium, halting landlords from filing eviction cases for the next four months or until 45 days after the coronavirus state of emergency is lifted. Massachusetts Public Health Association, a 2015 Social Innovator, convened an Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity and was a strong champion of this legislation.

The New York Times covers a new report from the Bridgespan Group and Echoing Green highlighting the persistent racial inequities in philanthropic funding, how existing practices can “leave impact on the table,” and steps that foundations can take to reduce barriers to funding for nonprofit leaders of color.

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