The ABSI Connect Fellows formed in August 2015 to get at the heart of the question:
How can we do better at solving complex social and environmental problems in our province?
Inspiring this question was the diverse and rich research, initiatives, networks, interest and questions surfacing around social innovation in Alberta.
Here are a few of the milestones that ignited and influenced our journey:
In response to these milestones, interest grew in the creation of ‘community builder fellowships’ to meaningfully enrich the social impact community with a shared capacity to embrace and accelerate social innovation...
The ABSI Connect Fellows were born!
From August 2015 - April 2016, the inaugural cohort of Fellows put social innovation full-time in the middle of our desks, with a bold mandate:
To deeply and critically explore the ‘social innovation ecosystem’ in Alberta;
To provide capacity - resources, time, convening, connecting, storytelling - to nurture the growing social innovation movement and tell a shared story of social innovation in Alberta; and
To develop a common agenda for moving forward on social innovation together.
To fulfill this mandate, we looked for those who were going beyond the status quo to better understand and address the root causes of our province’s most complex economic, social and environmental challenges.
We learned from people quietly pursuing radical opportunities leading to incredible impact and we were surprised, challenged, inspired, humbled and honoured by what we heard.
Our term came to a close on April 8, 2016 with the release of our report: "The Future of Social Innovation in Alberta." In this report, we suggested pathways forward towards a common agenda a stronger, more resilient social innovation ecosystem in Alberta.
Following the release of the report from Phase 1, we moved on to a new challenge in 2016: How do we put what we have learned into action? How do we support the move from common agenda to common action?
In Phase 2, we worked to weave together the social innovation ecosystem in Alberta, developing stronger relationships between the disparate parts. Based in Calgary, Edmonton, and Wood Buffalo, our Phase 2 Fellows worked as connectors, conveners, and community-builders in their sectors and communities. Read more about their work on our blog.
As the second cohort of fellows completed their terms with ABSI Connect, we convened a group of advisors and innovators to determine what ABSI Connect can offer to Alberta's changing social innovation Ecosystem. We hired our first Alberta-based facilitator in August 2018 to listen to the stories and needs of Alberta's social innovators and to guide ABSI Connect's evolution.