Embracing Innovation

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

Next month, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits will host our annual statewide Members’ Meeting in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage museum on Sept. 5. Each year we gather nonprofit leaders from across Oklahoma to convene, share stories and learn about a topic of interest. This year, our theme is “Innovation,” and we’re particularly excited about this important topic.

Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new.” The nonprofit sector has been introducing new ideas, new programs, new service delivery models and new thinking around philanthropy for decades. Now more than ever, nonprofits are finding innovative ways to improve communities and the lives of Oklahomans.

Most recently, organizations in Oklahoma City such as ReMerge and TEEM have created innovative programs to address incarceration, diversion and employment. 4 R Kids in Enid has a number of business models that not only help to employ individuals with disabilities but to serve the community with everything from paper shredding to dog treats. In Tulsa, A New Leaf provides employment opportunities at a greenhouse and florist, and the Lobeck Taylor Foundation has encouraged entrepreneurship with the Mother Road Market, a nonprofit food hall.

Our featured speaker for the event is Erika Lucas, the co-founder of StitchCrew in Oklahoma City. This business incubator is helping take start-ups from bootstrapping to reality. Erika’s deep understanding of how businesses – and nonprofits – can be change agents in communities will help guide our conversation. We will also feature a panel with John Armitage, M.D., of the Oklahoma Blood Institute, Katy Boren with the Oklahoma City Innovation District, Ed Long with CrossSector Innoovation, and Meredith Peebles from the Lobeck Taylor Foundation.

We hope nonprofit leaders will leave inspired by the stories of innovation from these experts. And we hope that some of the outcomes of this unique presentation include the exploration of new social entrepreneurship opportunities with nonprofits and the people they serve, innovating funding models such as New Market Tax Credits, Opportunity Zones, Pay for Success and innovation investments, along with new and exciting nonprofit programs that tackle many of our state’s issues.

I hope this will help energize nonprofits and their boards to be thinking of innovative models to explore into the future. Our sector is truly making a difference with unique services impacting all Oklahomans.


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Marnie Taylor