Systemic Change

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There are many dimensions to systemic change. The following aspects of systemic change are considered important in the Vincentian Family

  • Involving the poor themselves, including women and young people, at all stages: the identification of needs, planning, implementation, evaluation and revision;
  • Having a holistic vision — addressing a series of basic human needs: individual and social, spiritual and physical, especially jobs, health care, housing, education, and spiritual growth — with an integral approach toward prevention and sustainable development;
  • Placing particular emphasis on self-help and self-sustaining programs, with a special view toward addressing the root causes of poverty.

Articles at the Vincentian Encyclopedia about Systemic Change


The concept is embodied in various movements and concepts.

See also Changemakers Google search

Examples of Systemic Change

The Systemic Change Award established by the Congregation of the Mission in October, 2005 provides examples in the awards made in 2006 and following years.

We welcome posting of examples of other systemic change efforts by the followers of Vincent and Louise.

Some starters...

Non-Vincentian stories of systemic change

Suggested criteria

Not every aid project exemplifies systemic change. (see "Concept" section above for ways it is being understood in the Vincentian Family.)

OneWorld "Indian Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007" offers some criteria for examples of systemic change that could be adapted for the projects in the Vincentian Family.

1. Innovation
You have brought about social change by transforming traditional practice. Such transformation has been achieved through
• An innovative product or service
• The development of a different approach, or
• A more determined or rigorous application of known technologies, ideas and approaches.
A salient characteristic of a social entrepreneur is developing a pattern-changing idea and implementing it successfully.
2. Sustainability
Your innovation has generated the social conditions and/or institutions needed to sustain the initiative and you are dedicating all of your time to it.
• If set up as a non-profit entity, your organization is achieving some degree of financial self-sustainability through fees or revenues or is engaged in creating mutually beneficial partnerships with business and/or the public sector. Where possible, economic incentives are embraced. In any case, there is a clear difference from traditional charity and a move towards community-based empowerment and sustainability. There is also a difference with traditional business.
• If set up as a for-profit entity, the orientation toward social and environmental value creation predominates, with financial return treated as a secondary means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
3. Direct social impact
You have founded, developed and implemented the entrepreneurial initiative directly, together with poor or marginalized beneficiaries and stakeholders. The Impact of your work manifests itself in quantifiable results and testimonials and is well documented. There are no significant negative externalities.
4. Reach and Scope
The initiative has spread beyond its initial context and has been adapted successfully to other settings in the country or internationally, either by your organization, or through others who have replicated or adapted elements of it.
5. Replicability
The initiative can be adapted to other regions of the world to solve similar problems. As an entrepreneur you are open to sharing with others the tools, approaches and techniques that are critical to the adaptation of the initiative.

Media Resources

50 Vidoes on Social Entrepreneurships

Full length films

Pay It Forward The film
The film is about one boy’s homework, and how that assignment changes the world.
The assignment in question is extra credit, an assignment that Social Studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) gives every year.Think Of An Idea To Change Our World–And Put It Into Action. When Mr. Simonet asks for their responses, they tell him the assignment’s ‘weird’ and ‘hard.’ Mr. Simonet suggests another word: Possible. It is from this simple but potentially complex assignment that many different lives are affected.
A simple yet profound example of involving people in solutions.
The Pay It Forward Movement
Beyond Belief
Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were two ordinary soccer moms. Over the course of two years, as they cope with loss and struggle to raise their families as single mothers, these extraordinary women dedicate themselves to empowering Afghan widows whose lives have been ravaged by decades of war, poverty and oppression - factors they consider to be the root causes of terrorism.

Using YouTube for International Development Examples of how other groups are using this wildly popular site to get their message out.


This is but a sample of the many videos in this series.

Grameen Foundation 16 minutes

Empowering People; Changing Lives; Innovating for the World's Poor


  • Recycling in the Bronx
  • Columbia, MissisippiIn this virtual walking tour, Columbia activist and evangelist Charlotte Keys, founder of Jesus People Against Pollution, describes life near the plant and her fight to win justice for her community.

KIVA Kiva - Loans that Change Lives

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
NY Times Video - Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times visits his loan recipient: a baker in Kabul.

MySpace - Impact Awards

This is but a sample of award winning sites in various categories of social impact


The New Heroes tells the dramatic stories of 14 daring people from all corners of the globe who, against all odds, are successfully alleviating poverty and illness, combating unemployment and violence, and bringing education, light, opportunity and freedom to poor and marginalized people around the world.

Schwab Foundation


Games for Systemic Change

PBS for more information on using games for social change and the source of the list below.

See also "Using Games to Teach Social Justice"

  • Hobsons Choice Simple but powerful insight to the dead ends of peoople in poverty
Wikipedia on Hobsons Choice

Further reading