About Innovation Works
Rebuilding Neighborhood Economies Through Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing
The launch of IW came as a result of 15 months of due diligence exploration of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship (Miller Center) at Santa Clara University and similar programs, led by Frank Knott, founder of the 26-year old community development social enterprise ViTAL Economy and local leaders of Jesuit works across Baltimore. The steering committee concluded that the Miller Center program was a global best practice model that could be brought to Baltimore, establishing a model to provide a path to economic mobility, create opportunity for a community historically underserved by the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem, and offer Jesuit institutions in Baltimore a means to live out their mission by responding to a pressing faith-justice issue in our city.
Innovation Works (IW) was launched publicly, with backing by the USA East Jesuits, Jesuit works in Baltimore, and other local civic and philanthropic leaders, as a bold and creative solution to tackle Baltimore's neighborhood and racial wealth divide. IW believes in the power of social entrepreneurship to create sustainable economies in Baltimore's disinvested Black neighborhoods. IW prioritizes place-based local social entrepreneurs as leaders with the understanding, creativity, and determination to spark restorative economic change and reside in the neighborhoods where the change needs to happen.
"Innovation Works is an organization that I’ve been searching for quite some time. Specifically, the accelerator program has been vital to the growth and scalability of our nonprofit to ensure we can effectively sustain our impact in Baltimore. The mentors chosen have a demonstrated track record in the social entrepreneurship space, which yields entrepreneurs credible and actionable advice to maximize the potential of an organization. I honestly can’t believe all of this knowledge and information is free!"
Chazz Scott, Executive Director & Chief Creative Optimist of Positively Caviar
OUR GOALS BY 2029
The Heartbeat of Innovation Works
Accompaniment shapes our culture and drives the application of our values. IW stakeholders walk alongside each other, actively listening with limitless expectations. Stakeholders contribute time, talent, treasure, and lived experiences to support innovative social enterprises in Baltimore.
Community-based social enterprise leaders are the experts when it comes to solving problems in their communities. Through our network and resources, we amplify the work of social entrepreneurs as they discern, create, and build sustainable neighborhood economies.
Every person is sacred and each of us deserves to be respected, seen, and heard. We see the value inherent in every person and strive to support the whole person. We believe in the dignity of meaningful work and support those who create goods and services that benefit their community.
Belief in Others
Each person, no matter their circumstance, has leadership potential. We equip social innovation leaders with the tools and resources they need to build a future for Baltimore where one’s zip code does not determine their life outcomes.
For the Greater Good
We embrace each person’s desire and capacity to contribute to the world around them and to be part of something larger than themselves. Individuals who are empowered to follow their calling can build mission-driven organizations that solve problems, make profits, and create sustainable economic prosperity.