The Institute: A Learning Organization
Welcome to the Morino Institute Web site. We hope that our site encourages you to think in new ways, connects you with new people and institutions and provides insightful information.
The Morino Institute seeks to be a catalyst for change. Through our programs, research and partnerships with a wide variety of people and institutions, we seek to find ways for all people to have opportunity and hope in the New Economy. The Institute is best known for its work to advance the New Economy and to cultivate the Internet-enabled entrepreneurship of this New Economy. The Institute's Netpreneur Program has created a learning community of the National Capital regions "netpreneurs" that has nurtured and helped to stimulate entrepreneurship throughout our region.
Lesser known is the Institutes work exploring how the Internetand the relationships, knowledge and resources it makes possiblecan contribute to the growth and development of young people, especially those in low-income areas. This area of focus is particularly close to my heart. When I was contemplating my retirement from business in 1992, I knew that my real interest and passion could be described in three wordscommunity, youth and learning. And I wanted to understand what role the Internet could play in this area.
So the Institute participated in programs that use the Internet to connect rural towns in Nebraska. We studied the use of the Internet for community and civic purposes. We worked with, supported and learned from a partnership with LEAP and worked with a range of groups working with young people, including the Childrens Defense Fund, Stand for Children, CTCNet, Plugged In and The Childrens Partnership. And in 1998, we launched the Youth Development Collaborative Pilot to understand how to use the tools of the New Economy to address much larger social issues. We worked with four community-based organizations in the District of Columbia to examine how the Internet could become a part of these organizations and their programs and how new technologies could be used to improve the ability of these organizations to serve youth and families. The YDC Pilot has contributed greatly to our knowledge and understanding. As a result, we have created another learning community, YouthLearn, that brings together people who work with youth and families to explore the possibilities and practical aspects of the Internet and other technologies. Our work with youth has also led us to develop a point of view with regard to the way resources are being marshaled and deployed to support efforts to close the Digital Divide. It is our belief that the movement to close the Digital Divide can be transformed into a force for social change. Its real promise is not just to equalize the access to technology but rather to apply the potential of technology to address the underlying challenges that are the true source of fundamental social divides in America. That is the ultimate challenge for the New Economyand the ultimate opportunity for those eager to give back to a society in which they have prospered so much. Our perspectives on closing the Digital Divide are discussed in more detail in a recent speech to the Department of Commerces TOP conference.
Having developed strong networks among both entrepreneurs and those in community-based organizations, the Institute has now embarked on another stage of its developmentfiguring out how to bring the two together to achieve meaningful change. Since 1998, we have undertaken considerable research in venture philanthropy, an emerging area of philanthropy that applies the best practices of strategic venture capital investment to funding nonprofit organizations. Working with a core set of business and community leaders, the Institute has established Venture Philanthropy Partners to demonstrate venture philanthropy as a new approach to bringing resources to the nonprofit sector. Venture Philanthropy Partners is committed to helping develop and define the process of venture philanthropy to increase the level and effectiveness of giving in the National Capital region. Its mission is to apply strategic investment management practices to build stronger, more effective, sustainable organizations serving children. We hope that the venture philanthropy model will more effectively tap the wealth and talent of the New Economy and channel it to help strengthen organizations who can make a difference.
The Institute is continually evolving in its scope and focus. One thing that remains constant is our unwavering desire to stimulate meaningful social and economic change and help create a world where the doors of opportunity are open to all.