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Manhattan Institute

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Social Entrepreneurship Initiative

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“Private philanthropy and the organizations it supports are part of the life-blood of America—aiding and uplifting those in need, identifying and addressing problems which others, including government, have not yet even recognized.” — Howard Husock

About the Program

History has shown that free markets are the best way to organize economic activity. But the Manhattan Institute understands that in a healthy society, markets are complemented by charitable and philanthropic enterprises—which both help those in need and prepare citizens to realize their potential. Indeed, Adam Smith himself understood this: his writing on the virtues of markets (Wealth of Nations) was preceded by his writing on morality, compassion, and altruism (Theory of Moral Sentiments). Since its founding, the United States has been characterized by its vibrant civil society, one in which private, nonprofit, voluntary nongovernmental organizations are formed to ameliorate social ills.

Both to celebrate and support this tradition, the Manhattan Institute established our social entrepreneurship initiative in 2001. Directed by Vice-President for Policy Research Howard Husock, it combines research, writing, public speaking, and events on the role of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations with an award program which recognizes the best of America's new generation of nonprofit leaders.

The William E. Simon Prize includes a personal honorarium of $100,000 and the Richard Cornuelle Award includes a $25,000 award to the winning organizations.

Read here about how to nominate a nonprofit organization for the William E. Simon Prize or the Richard C. Cornuelle Award

2017 Social Entrepreneurship Award Winners

William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement

Detective Steven McDonald
New York Police Department
(In Memoriam)


Richard C. Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship

Kelly Orians
Rising Foundations, New Orleans, LA
Learn More


Daniel Zaharopol
Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics, New York, NY
Learn More


Nick Ringger
Community Warehouse, Milwaukee, WI
Learn More


Rev. Trevor Rubingh
New City Kids, Jersey City, NJ
Learn More


In Democracy in America, Tocqueville observed:

"Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies but associations of a thousand other kinds-religious, moral, serious, futile, enormous, or diminutive.

The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books; to send out missionaries; they found in this manner hospitals, prisons, and schools. Wherever, at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association."


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