Reimagining Innovation for Social Change

A private operating foundation, Beespace serves as a learning lab committed to inquiry and experimentation around the intersection of social innovation and social justice.

Lessons from our incubator

In its first round of funding, Beespace ran a hands-on incubator practice with founders of new social change organizations. We offered two, two-year residencies that allowed us to test and assess what kinds of supports startups need in order to create and sustain change that is both innovative and transformational.  

The core lesson drawn from our incubation practice is that the social innovation marketplace and social justice advocacy –- the two dynamic arenas that people turn to for new social change solutions — are in many ways divorced from one another. Like so many of our social institutions, these two arenas risk polarization – in part because of real differences in culture, worldview, and goals that deserve to be explored (and bridged when possible), but also because of “othering” and caricatures on both sides.

The time is ripe for creating a laboratory space to explore crossover learnings and intersectional approaches between social innovation and social justice. Our hypothesis is that combining and reformulating practices, resources, and mindsets between these two arenas may yield even more potent assets in the struggle for transformational change.

A new, crossover “funding collaboratory”

For the next ten years, Beespace will facilitate a new kind of collaborative funding laboratory, or “collaboratory” – envisioned as a collective, distributed table led by donor and non-donor stakeholders from across the social innovation and social justice spectrum. Beespace has pledged $20 million in seed money for this effort, and we will be dedicating ourselves to bringing other financial resources into the collaboratory as well.  

The new funding collaboratory will lift up and support emerging efforts to re-imagine, test, and share new approaches to innovation for social change, at the intersection of social innovation and social justice. In its practices and its participatory structure, the collaboratory will center equity, inquiry and experimentation, and systems-led thinking.

Beespace’s commitment to this new funding collaboratory is also underwritten by our belief in the power of patient capital, as well as our judgement-free expectations about the nonlinear timelines that true exploration requires. We are investigating how to ensure maximum legal and structural flexibility for the funding collaboratory, so that it may offer support through grants, PRIs, impact investing, other forms of investment, and direct program funding.

The change we hope to see through this collaboratory may look like:

  • Bridging: Uptake and spread of new terms of reference, new/strengthened relationships, assumptions, habits, and mental models at the intersection of social innovation and social justice.
  • Lessons: Learning-oriented, repeatable stories about the collaboratory’s experimental approaches to innovation for social change, grounded at the intersection of social innovation and social justice; new tools or methodologies developed at the intersection as part of the experiments process; open source documentation and public learning on what succeeded and failed in the experiments.
  • Proliferation: Time, money, and community used to spread the lessons, tools and methods developed in the collaboratory; intentional strategies to influence systems leaders to take up, adapt and build upon them.

Join us in designing the new funding collaboratory, together

Beespace is now launching a twelve-month, participatory design process for the new funding collaboratory. Through this design process, we will hold space for and support several cohorts of aligned donors, practitioners, intermediaries, community members, and other stakeholders to develop and animate this new collaboratory together.

Beespace’s sacred operating principle is inclusion and community. Inclusion and community offer intrinsic value in terms of authenticity, wiser/more relevant outcomes, and agency for those most affected in the process of social change.

We are excited to learn from what emerges in the process of exploring this intersectional space between social innovation and social justice, and are eager to step back and facilitate the collaboratory’s experiments and support its leadership.