Greater Twin Cities United Way
TITLE: Greater Twin Cities United Way/Twin Cities STRIVE Alliance Social Innovation Fund.
BASIC INFORMATION: Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW) awards $60M annually in competitive grants to more than 180 organizations. SIF FOCUS: The Alliance SIF will be issued-based.
PRIORITY ISSUE AREA: Youth development (closing academic achievement gaps). Goals are: improving kindergarten readiness, 3rd-grade reading proficiency, 9th-grade readiness for upper-level math, four-year high school graduation, and postsecondary enrollment among low-income students. Subgrants will fund services to 1,500 to 2,000 students annually.
MEASURABLE OUTCOMES: By the end of the grant period, for each socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and linguistic group served by subgrantees, the gap between baseline and 100% proficiency will be reduced by half in each of the five goal areas.
GEOGRAPHICAL FOCUS: The core cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul (expansion to first-ring suburbs and beyond planned based on future funding).
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS: the University of Minnesota Center for Research and Educational Improvement (the contracted evaluation partner), Wilder Research (data systems development), and issue-area experts who serve on Improvement Networks.
AMOUNT REQUESTED: $1M a year for 5 years. MATCH SOURCES: Commitments of at least $100K from St. Paul Foundation, University of Minnesota Foundation, Bush Foundation, and GTCUW; a $100K-$150K pledge from General Mills Foundation; and a commitment of $50K+ from The Minneapolis Foundation. Additional commitments from Cargill, 3M, Target Corporation, and the Minnesota Vikings are anticipated.
2012 PRIORITY: GTCUW awards $60M annually through an open, competitive process; has extensive relationships with education and evaluation experts; and a has successful history of analyzing evidence of effectiveness for programs, determining best-practice strategies, and providing support to expand or replicate services.
OVERVIEW: The Alliance SIF will: 1) develop a strong portfolio of replicable, evidence-based programs; 2) build subgrantee and network capacity to grow program impact and evidence of effectiveness and provide a platform for expansion and replication of effective solutions; and 3). create a value-added system of technical assistance, data-sharing, and peer-to-peer support.
NEEDS: In Minneapolis and Saint Paul, almost a quarter of residents of all ages and a third of children under 18 live in poverty. The vast majority of children in poverty are children of color. Alarming achievement gaps exist between white students and students of color and between middle-to-upper-income students and students in poverty. The Alliance will reduce gaps by supporting promising programs aimed at improving outcomes at critical points on the educational continuum.
THEORY OF CHANGE: The Theory of Collective Impact, which posits that "a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common vision, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually-reinforcing activities among all participants" can lead to innovative solutions for formerly intractable social problems.
PORTFOLIO SELECTION: Develop RFPs; solicit, accept, and review applications; make funding decisions based on established applicant criteria and a tiered scoring rubric; disseminate and track funds; refine goals and progress indicators; monitor performance and compliance; work with subgrantees not reaching performance goals; and report on results.
EVALUATION: Conduct a quasi-experimental design at the portfolio level to ensure overall initiative progress and at the program level to ensure subgrantees reach a moderate evidence level by the end of the funding period. Interim progress indicators will be established for each subgrantee.
GROWTH OF SUBGRANTEES: Issue-specific Improvement Networks will help subgrantees identify, adopt and scale effective practices and guide each subgrantee in creating and implementing plans for growing impact.
EXPERIENCE/EXPERTISE: A strong history of competitive grantmaking and supporting grantee program growth; existing structures for sharing best-practices and outcomes; experience managing complex evaluations and using evidence in decision-making; experience setting and implementing goals; and strong internal programmatic and financial management structures, staff, and procedures to support subgrantees.