Change Agents in Residence – An SA2020 Implementation Accelerator

The eleven vision areas and corresponding targets of the SA2020 plan are not optional endeavors for a world-class city. This city needs the sweeping social transformation called for by its citizens; and we as a city need help creating and implementing the programs that will enable that shift. In an era of unprecedented collaboration and cooperation we must be willing to look to the world for bright spots, for solutions, for actionable ideas that can be planted and nurtured in our communities and neighborhoods. We can accelerate the SA2020 plan’s implementation by creating a framework where-in the world’s brightest change agents and social innovators are incentivized to contribute their best to the enduring benefit of our city.

The Change Agent in Residence program would compensate great thinkers for building and implementing self-sustaining models of change in exchange for a salary and the potential for a social results-based bonus. The program would in turn give the Change Agents a remarkable opportunity to perform and collaborate on a world stage. Change Agents may be CEOs on sabbatical, teachers, professors, retired Mayors, Governors, or Presidents, entrepreneurs, students or soldiers, or anyone with a proven track record for delivering social change. A Change Agent in Residence program would be co-sponsored by foundations, public and private institutions and companies and project-related costs should be crowd funded.

Change Agents would work collaboratively with each other and a dedicated shared staff to design and implement social programs that were holistic and sustainable. The SA2020 plan would serve as the primary guiding document for prioritizing this call to action. A wide variety of public and private knowledge resources would be made available to the Change Agents along with direct access to key personnel across many agencies and industries. Change Agents would not be subject to management or oversight by committee or city council. The application and selection process would more closely resemble Top Chef than a conventional RFQ process. The program is envisioned to produce a wave of focused and interconnected social change programs that are operational in 12 months. The reputations and integrity of the Change Agents and the City will be the nexus of our mutual accountability.

Change Agents in Residence would be paid for their expertise and will be responsible for the development of their own project-related budgets. A proposed pay package of $100,000 + room (if required), office and shared staff, and a bonus of up to $50,000 based on EOY results would be offered to attract a diverse field of candidates. Project-related budgets will likely range greatly and variable funding sources will be tapped to find the required resources. In general, Change Agent pay and project-related costs should be raised from a blend of private and public sector sources including crowd funding. Rounds of social equity bonds (think war bonds for social good) could be sold to charitable foundations as low return program-related investments to fund the social-success-based bonus-pay component of the program. Public funds freed-up by the successful implementation of Change Agent in Residence projects would be used to pay back the charitable foundations the following year, allowing those dollars to be recycled for other charitable purposes. Indexed returns could also be paid to private bondholders based on the success of the related program.

As the 7th largest city in the United States, the future of San Antonio is a global concern that warrants global consideration. We have done an excellent job articulating our needs and establishing our priorities. Big City. Small Town. And as metrics for social progress and change were an important component of the SA2020 plan, a baseline for success has already been identified. What we need now are world-class solutions, new social technologies, and the boots on the ground to get them going. The Change Agent in Residency program is not about planning or information gathering or benchmarking. It is about tapping global talent to accelerate the implementation of the SA2020 plan through the launch of strategic and tactical social changes, programs, and start-ups.

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3 thoughts on “Change Agents in Residence – An SA2020 Implementation Accelerator

  1. Designers learn in school that form follows function. I’ve learned, thought, that form follows funding. This great idea for accelerating our City’s transformation requires funding – as you clearly outline.

    So my question is, how do we best get going on an executable finance plan? Without, this idea will sit on the shelf.

    • Andres, thank you for reading and commenting on this plan. I agree that funding is the key. I would suggest that a primary sponsor be identified for each vision area, their seed investment would fund the organization and search for additional sponsors and funds. The seed capital could be private or public and rather than pursue all 11, I am inclined to start with 3. The caliber of the lead sponsors is also important, lending credibility to the effort and confidence to future investors.

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