August 1, 2019

Center for Social Innovation launches regional platform for public discourse

The SoCal Policy Forum platform is a collaboration between UCR and Southern California News Group

Author: Tess Eyrich
August 1, 2019

What do a mayor, a CEO, and a professor have to say about homelessness in Southern California? Thanks to a new partnership between the Center for Social Innovation at the University of California, Riverside, and the largest news content provider in Southern California, it’s easier than ever to find out. 

The UCR research center has collaborated with Southern California News Group to jointly launch SoCal Policy Forum, an online platform designed to convene expert voices and boost public engagement on topics affecting the entire region. 

The platform, which went live this past weekend, debuted with a curated collection of expert opinions on the topic of housing affordability and homelessness. Opinions were sourced from a pool of 34 contributors representing a range of fields, including politics and public administration, academia, nonprofit management, community advocacy, and business. 

Southern California News Group announced the platform’s launch on Sunday, July 28, with a statement that ran across its 11 daily newspapers, including The Press-Enterprise, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, and San Bernardino Sun. In the statement, the news group’s editorial board described the platform as “an effort to elevate policy discourse in the region” by breaking down silos that allow narrow perspectives to perpetuate.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, founding director of UCR's Center for Social Innovation (Carrie Rosema)

In the future, the platform will feature expert opinions on economic inequality and other timely topics in consultation with the Southern California News Group editorial team. Each expert’s online opinion is limited to about 300 words, although the news group’s daily newspapers will also publish quarterly print pieces by select contributors in their Opinion sections.

In addition, the UCR center, news group, and other community partners will host quarterly live events where expert contributors and other stakeholders will come together to publicly discuss each policy issue at hand, with the first event planned for September.

Following this summer’s focus on housing affordability and homelessness, the platform and corresponding print pieces and live event will tackle the theme of economic inequality.

“We are excited to launch this platform that builds a greater policy interest and a stronger sense of shared community across Southern California, and the Southern California News Group has been an exceptional partner in this effort,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founding director of the Center for Social Innovation and a UCR professor of public policy and political science. “In keeping with our spirit of innovation, we expect the forum to adapt and evolve as we learn and get feedback from our initial rounds of engagement.”

More about the Center for Social Innovation: Housed within UCR’s School of Public Policy, the Center for Social Innovation aims to provide a credible research voice that spurs civic leadership and policy innovation. The center is a breeding ground for collaborative projects that boost collective impact — all with the primary goal of shifting away from a “problem” narrative to an “opportunity” narrative for marginalized communities and localities.

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