If you’re anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, follow these instructions: Open your calendar and block off Nov. 10. Then click here and buy a ticket to attend A Social Ignition’s annual gala.

This is civil action at its finest. You will have a great time. But you’ll also be ensuring that a proven, disruptive, economically focused program working within Oregon’s prisons has the funds and backing it needs to grow its amazing work.

Social entrepreneurs around the world are collectively making needle-moving impact on the largest problems the planet faces, from extreme poverty to exploitation to global warming to mass incarceration. A Social Ignition is social entrepreneurship at an intensely targeted and local level.

To have such a powerful example working in Oregon demands the attention and support of the region. If scaled, A Social Ignition could become a model for the country as a whole at the precise time leaders seek out proven programs.


After decades of silence during the era of mass incarceration in America, the noise of prison reform is welcome. At least the country and its political leaders (well, most of them anyway) have warmed to the idea that system of criminal justice is neither just, nor sustainable. At its worst, the criminal justice system loses justice and is just criminal.

We can do better.

But the national chatter of reform does present other difficulties, namely centering efforts on meaningful reform that solves the problem. This is harder than talking about reform or enacting legislation that provides politicians political talking points without actually throwing a spoke in the wheel of the industrialized prison economy that remains the darling of Wall Street.

Again, we can do better.

How so? Apply proven models that work and scale them to reach a tipping point of change. Old strategies haven’t worked. New innovations are needed, especially ones that break the cycle of incarceration, promotes rehabilitation and empowers former inmates to succeed in society after release.

It’s actually a relatively simple process. We now spend some $75 billion annually on a mass incarceration system that is broken and flawed. We need to channel some of that funding to programs that work.

The more we do this on our local level, the more the best and brightest programs like A Social Ignition can get the funding, support and access inside of prisons to succeed.

A University of Baylor study found that a single inmate who doesn’t return to crime (for the last generation more than two-thirds do) and instead becomes a tax-paying citizen provides a 304% immediate social return on investment. That benefit only grows with each passing year.

By this simple measure, A Social Ignition has provided Oregon a dramatic and sweeping impact of benefit. Nov. 10 is our time to learn more about how they do it and to say thanks with our enthusiastic support.

Let’s recap. Want to do you civic duty? Want to be a civic advocate? Click here and buy your ticket. Post comments below and share widely on your social media to invite others to do the same. Then show up and celebrate. This is action at its finest. You can do it. So let’s get started now!

See you there.

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