Federal Program Marks Fifth Anniversary; Announces $51.8 Million in Investments to Grow Community Solutions That Work

September 17, 2014

Key Obama Administration Initiative Makes Investments in Seven Organizations Focused on Innovative Solutions, Expanding Economic Opportunity for Youth, and Leveraging Collective Impact Approaches

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced an investment of $33.7 million in seven of the nation’s leading grantmakers. The investments, which were announced at the live-streamed opening plenary of the SIF’s Annual Grantee Convening, will help grow innovative, evidence-based organizations that work on youth development, economic opportunity, and healthy futures. $18.1 million in continuation funding was also announced for existing grantees to sustain program growth.

By the end of this year SIF and its non-federal partners will have provided more than $700 million in funding to groups and organizations that are committed to finding the best solutions for their communities’ challenges. In partnership with more than 30 intermediaries, who in turn have invested in more than 200 nonprofits in 37 states and Washington, DC , the SIF portfolio now represents a $243.4 million federal investment. This investment is expected to leverage more than $540 million in non-federal match commitments.

The 2014 class of grantees includes two community foundations, a first for the SIF. All seven new grantees will also be leveraging, and testing, a Collective Impact model through which communities work collaboratively across sectors to identify challenges, set goals, and track progress together.

“We are excited about this new class of Social Innovation Fund grantees because they are among the most cutting edge grant-makers in social innovation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “The investment in these organizations will not only bolster local programs’ capacity to serve more individuals in need, but also provide communities with programs that work.”

In the next several months, these intermediary organizations will host their own competitions to select innovative, effective nonprofits.  Successful applicants will receive grants of $100,000 or more for periods of three to five years.  Each organization must show at least preliminary evidence of impact. Nonprofits will work with the SIF and the intermediary organizations to design rigorous evaluation plans that will increase levels of evidence.  The evaluation plans will also lead to replicable models and meaningful lessons for the broader social sector.

“Five years ago the Social Innovation Fund was created to find solutions that work, and make them work for more people  – signaling a shift in the way the government and philanthropy invest in community solutions,” said Michael Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund.  “Five years later, we’ve become a national solutions accelerator and amplifier, investing hundreds of millions of dollars, along with our private sector partners to prove, improve and scale solutions that work. This newest class of grantees will take our work to new heights and deeper depths, with a greater emphasis on collective impact and data-driven mobilization, and an urgent focus on big bets to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing our communities.”

The grantees include:

  • AARP Foundation, The Women’s Economic Stability Initiative
    An investment of $3 million will allow the AARP Foundation to expand its Women’s Economic Stability Initiative (WESI) to low-income women ages 50 to 64 in Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas. WESI provides support at the individual and community levels to help women find employment in growth industries and increase their financial capability. 
  • Boston Foundation, Boston Coaching for Completion
    A grant of $2.7 million for one year will allow the Boston Foundation to implement Boston Coaching for Completion, an effort designed to raise post-secondary completion rates, especially for the most vulnerable youth populations in the Boston area.
  • Jobs for the Future, Inc., Opportunity Youth Innovation Fund
    Through a $6 million investment, Jobs for the Future and its partner, the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work, also known as Opportunity Youth, in 12 communities across the country. The expectation is that participating youth will earn a diploma or its equivalent and enter postsecondary education at twice the rate of peers who do not receive these services.
  • Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy Texas
    A $10 million grant will allow Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas to implement a program designed to improve rates of depression and diabetes in high-poverty communities in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • Share Our Strength, The No Kid Hungry Campaign: Ending Childhood Hunger in America
    With $1.5 million in funding from the SIF, Share Our Strength will accelerate the growth of its No Kid Hungry campaign. With a bold goal to end childhood hunger in the U.S., Share Our Strength plans to complete the first ever assessment of the impact of childhood hunger of a comprehensive strategy that engages all five federal nutrition programs.
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The Big Lift Social Innovation Fund
    $7.5 million will allow the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to implement The Big Lift, a collective impact collaborative of more than 100 organizations that will provide funds to preschool and other organizations involved in the academic and social education of preschool students and is designed to increase the number of third graders who read proficiently in 11 high need school districts in San Mateo County, California. 
  • United Way of Greenville County,  Middle Grades Success Initiative
    Through a $3 million grant, United Way of Greenville County will design a dropout prevention program for middle grade students. The program will use an Early Warning Response System, real-time data to identify students who begin to disengage from school. A team will then match students with appropriate interventions and resources

$18.1 million in continuation funding was also announced today for existing grantees to sustain program growth.

The SIF provides grant funding to experienced grantmaking intermediaries that identify the most promising programs and guide them towards greater impact and stronger evidence of success.  These grants range from $1 to$10 million annually for up to five years.  The intermediaries then match the federal funds dollar-for-dollar and hold open competitions to identify high-performing nonprofit organizations that help low-income communities and have innovative solutions with evidence of compelling results.  Once selected, these nonprofits must also match the funds they receive, and participate in rigorous evaluations of the impact of their programs. The nonprofits share data, lessons learned and results – helping to build the capacity of the social sector and lift up solutions that can transform lives and communities.