If the presidential election of 2016 did nothing else, it put rural America’s “brain drain” on the public radar. Seemingly overnight, reporters and political pundits started connecting dots they had long ignored: In small towns and unincorporated places, middle-class young people were moving away for college and never coming home, helping to fuel a long, slow decline in heartland communities.

Part of the problem, however, is also perceptual. Even though there are many innovators in smaller cities and regions, their stories are often unheralded. This invisibility, in turn, means less attention and investment by corporate and nonprofit philanthropy alike.

Los Angeles might represent both aspects of this trend. With a booming economy, it’s exactly the kind of place where all those bright young people end up. But even here, in the 34,000 square miles that make up Greater LA, there are areas where local innovators struggle to get recognition and investment.

When civic and corporate leaders do hear about the region, it’s often in the context of problems and deficits rather than civic entrepreneurs and innovative solutions. Indeed, Karthick notes that this narrative is apparent even among many local nonprofit leaders, and that the region is only beginning to “change the dynamic from a deficit mindset to an asset orientation.”

To that end, he officially announced the UCR Center for Social Innovation on Friday, February 9. With working groups focused on immigration, civic engagement, economic mobility, and leadership/entrepreneurship, Karthick believes the Center can play a pivotal role in nurturing social change by empowering home-grown changemakers to address the needs they understand best.

He also notes that the funding community needs to stop operating in silos when it comes to civic engagement and social entrepreneurship. “Investments in civic empowerment could benefit tremendously from thinking about social entrepreneurship and enterprise,” he said during the launch of the Center.

Read the full article about addressing brain drain through civic empowerment by Robert Jones at UPSWELL.