Thursday, June 30, 2011

HandsOn Network Announces Innovation Hubs and We’re One of Them

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County has been named an “Innovation Hub” by HandsOn Network, its national affiliate partner.  The Center is one of 10 organizations so designated as learning labs for community involvement that will drive innovation, build strong leadership and advance volunteer engagement through acquired skills and knowledge.  The announcement was made at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service which was held in New Orleans from June 6-9, 2011.

“The world is evolving rapidly with dramatic changes in how people live, work and interface with technology.  All of these also affect how and why people decide to get involved in their communities,” says Amy Smith, president of Atlanta-based HandsOn Network.  “To keep up with these changes, HandsOn Network is investing in select affiliates to help all affiliates stay on the cutting edge of innovation, create new ways to connect with individuals and create positive change in communities.”

In addition to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the other Innovation Hubs are: Boston Cares, Chicago Cares, HandsOn Central Ohio, HandsOn Greater Portland, HandsOn Twin Cities, New York Cares, Seattle Works, Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and Volunteer Marin/Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership.

The Innovation Hubs initiative will provide grant funding and executive leadership focused on innovation. The model for this innovation framework is based on trends identified by David La Piana, which include:

  • Redefining participation due to demographic shifts
  • Abounding technological advances
  • Organizing of work in new ways through networks
  • Rising interest in civic engagement and volunteerism
  • Blurring of sector boundaries

“Innovation is key to addressing the challenges communities across the country are facing,” says Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.  “As an Innovation Hub, we will be able to conceive and develop new ideas and programs that we will be able to share with the entire HandsOn Network for the benefit of all Americans.”

Over a period of three years, the practices and learning emerging from the Innovation Hubs will form the blueprint for evolving the model of civic engagement to meet 21st century needs of both volunteers and the communities in which they engage.

HandsOn Network is the volunteer-activation arm of Points of Light Institute and includes 250 community action centers that deliver 30 million hours of volunteer service each year across the country and in 16 countries around the world.  These centers help people plug into volunteer opportunities in their local communities, partner with more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations to manage volunteer resources, and develop the leadership capacity of volunteers.  For more information, please visit

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