President Barack Obama on Tuesday promised that the White House will do its part to support grassroots organizations that are successful in their efforts to improve communities.
"Solutions to America's challenges are being developed every day at the grassroots. And government shouldn't be supplanting those efforts, it should be supporting those efforts," Obama told representatives of nonprofit programs during a White House gathering.
The president said he was asking Domestic Policy Council director Melody Barnes and the White House innovation team to travel across the country to discover and evaluate the best programs making strides in such areas as education, training and health care.
Obama noted that the community service act he signed into law contained a $50 million innovation fund that he wanted to use to provide aid to the most promising nonprofits in the country. "We'll invest in those with the best results, that are most likely to provide a good return on our taxpayer dollars," he said.
Obama also called on foundations, businesses and philanthropists to take an active role, saying they would require matching investments from the private sector.
He added that the economic stimulus package also has a $650 million "what works fund" for the Education Department that will be invested in high-impact initiatives in schools and communities.
Among the nonprofits invited to the event were the Harlem Children's Zone, which helps children get an early start on a good education; Genesys Works, a Houston-based group that trains and helps low-income high school students get entry-level technical support jobs in major corporations; Bonnie CLAC, a New Hampshire organization that helps struggling people acquire fuel-efficient, affordable and reliable vehicles; and HopeLab, a California program using technology to help young people with chronic diseases.