NYCEDC's blog

Announcing Innovate NYC: The Shared Resource Challenge


innovate nyc

By Alysa Hannon, Senior Project Manager, Social Capital Desk, Center for Economic Transformation

On December 7, NYCEDC's Social Capital Desk celebrated the launch of Innovate NYC.

Twenty student-social entrepreneurs, selected from across 10 institutions of higher education in New York City, were announced as the first cohort of this new landmark program. Created and implemented by The DO School, Innovate NYC brings together young change-makers to address - through the lens of entrepreneurship - a social challenge proposed by City government.

This year, NYCEDC is the program’s challenge partner. Kate Daly, SVP at the Center for Economic Transformation, officially offered the cohort their challenge at Monday night’s Launch Ceremony:

This year's Challenge is the Shared Resource Challenge:

NYCEDC challenges you to develop an innovative product or service that improves affordability and access to critical resources including workspace, back-office support, technological infrastructure, among many others - for non-profit organizations, social enterprises, and mission-driven businesses so they can be more effective for the people of New York City.”

- Kate Daly, SVP Center for Economic Transformation

While The DO School has implemented programming in New York City before, in concert with City government, this is the first time the participants are New York City residents, and furthermore New York City students, working together on a local problem that they stand well-positioned to understand and benefit from firsthand.

The cohort represents a diverse range of NYC communities as well as subject-matter expertise. Innovate NYC universities include Borough of Manhattan Community College, Brooklyn Law School, Columbia University, The Cooper Union, Fordham University, Guttman Community College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Macaulay Honors College, and The New School. Students from New York University are also participating in the program.

Over the next seven months, students will work with experts in New York City as well as the relevant stakeholder communities to develop and implement a hands-on solution that they will then present to NYCEDC next July. 

Martha Kanter, former Under Secretary of Education of the United States and current Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at New York University, has been a champion of the Innovate NYC program and offered a few remarks at Monday night’s celebration, noting that “innovation and collaboration are critical skills to advance any nation's prosperity and competitiveness in the 21st century.”

Scott Millstein of Coro New York Leadership Center also spoke to the importance of cultivating New York City’s next generation of civic leaders and Florian Hoffmann, Founder and President of The DO School, underlined the catalytic role of entrepreneurship in doing so.

The Innovate NYC cohort has been charged by NYCEDC with the mandate of strengthening the infrastructure for social entrepreneurship in NYC. By critically exploring what resources are at the disposal of our City’s social entrepreneurs, the cohort will work to equip their fellow change agents with a new tool to help actualize creative solutions to NYC’s many critical challenges. The multiplier effect of the Shared Resource Challenge is, in a sense, incalculable.

Simultaneously, by supporting The DO School’s first flagship program designed for NYC’s social entrepreneurs, NYCEDC is helping to create the ecosystem of capacity-building institutions that a robust social enterprise economy demands.

kate daly innovate nyc

This partnership, as well as the challenge itself speaks to a core tenant of NYCEDC's mission: to address NYC's challenges using market-based solutions and to empower New Yorkers to address them through the lens of entrepreneurship. Innovate NYC's student-social entrepreneurs are themselves a tangible testament to the incredible value of social entrepreneurship for the NYC economy.

We congratulate and thank the Innovate NYC cohort and look forward to seeing what creative solutions they come up with over the next 7 months!

Innovate NYC is supported by Newman’s Own Foundation. For more information on Innovate NYC, please visit



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