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Boston College School of Social Work
Center for Social Innovation

"The Social Innovation Lab at BC has given The Home For Little Wanderers a process to guide our team in its efforts to develop innovations we think will transform the lives of the young people we serve through our Young Adult Resource Network."

—Joan Wallace-Benjamin, president and CEO of the Home for Little Wanderers

Read more about the Social Innovation Lab in the Boston College Chronicle

Social Innovation Lab


Our Social Innovation Lab helps social service organizations apply design thinking to solving social problems.  Central to the Lab is a series of fast-paced interactions that result in the development and refinement of a solution prototype. 

The Social Innovation Lab is a guided, nine-month learning experience designed to help participating agencies develop innovative solutions to social problems.  By the end of the Lab process, the agencies have pilot tested core elements of their social innovation prototype.

Each year, the Center for Social Innovation partners with Social Innovation Teams from social service agencies.  The Lab helps the agencies strengthen their capacity for social innovation so that they can continue to engage in social innovation after the Lab experience has been completed.


Benefits + Opportunities

Participating organizations will:

  • develop one or more custom prototypes to address agency responses to social problems;
  • engage in peer-to-peer consulting and dialogue about sustained change;
  • receive a customized summary report about their Lab experience;
  • offer unique development and leadership opportunities to team members;
  • practice ways to foster and support innovation.


Previous Lab Results:

Partnership in Medellín, Colombia

In 2014, the Center for Social Innovation concluded its international Social Innovation Lab in partnership with Ruta N Medellín, which guided local leaders in addressing pressing social issues in Medellín, Colombia.

Together with Ruta N Medellín and local consulting partners, more than 65 lab participants, representing over 30 organizations, were recruited for participation in the Lab.  Counting on team engagement from nonprofits, for- profits, universities, and governmental organizations, the four Lab teams designed solutions to issues related to Housing, Transportation, Overcoming the urban conflict, and Entrepreneurship.

The following is a list of the innovations, which resulted from the Lab:

  1. HabitaWiki: an online networking opportunity for people to post and share their own solutions to optimizing space in dense housing.
  2. Convivencia: a video game for 7-16 year olds to identify social norms they are exposed to, which perpetuate a culture of violence in their neighborhood.
  3. Creo en Vos: an app that promotes consumption of local goods by facilitating purchases between local entrepreneurs and consumers in Medellín.
  4. Faro: a navigation system for pedestrian mobility, which helps people connect to public resources, like bike paths and safety zones, via their mobile phones.