The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a new public-private investment vehicle established by the 2009 Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, is designed to:
- Fund effective and potentially transformative portfolios of nonprofit community organizations to help them strengthen their evidence base, and replicate and expand to serve more low-income communities;
- Identify more effective approaches to addressing critical social challenges and broadly share this knowledge; and
- Develop the grantmaking infrastructure necessary to support the work of social innovation in communities across the country.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, the Corporation will award up to $50 million in Federal funding to an estimated seven to 10 intermediary organizations. Annual SIF awards to intermediaries will be in the range of $1 million to $10 million, and must be matched 1:1 in cash. The SIF award periods are up to five years. The SIF funding mechanism will leverage $3 of private funding for every $1 in federal funding, generating a total public-private investment of $200 million in FY 2010.
Nonprofit community organizations will be competitively selected by SIF intermediaries and receive subgrants to:
- Produce measurable outcomes within a specific issue area or geographic region;
- Evaluate their effectiveness; and
- Replicate and expand to serve more individuals and communities.
Subgrants will be awarded on the order of no less than $100,000 per year for three to five years, along with strategic support in areas such as evaluation and management. Subgrantees must also provide a 1:1 cash match for the total amount—Federal and private dollars—they receive from the intermediaries.
The Social Innovation Fund Competition is now open and accepting applications for Federal funds to invest in effective, innovative nonprofits working in low-income communities to address critical social challenges in the priority issue areas of:
- Economic Opportunity – Increasing economic opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals
- Youth Development and School Support – Preparing America’s youth for success in school, active citizenship, productive work, and healthy and safe lives
- Healthy Futures – Promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing the risk factors that can lead to illness
Applications are due by April 8, 2010, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Certification of matching funds to determine eligibility is due at the time of application. Successful applicants will be notified by July 2010.
Letters of Intent to Apply
Thank you to all potential SIF applicants who submitted a Letter of Intent to Apply on March 1, 2010. Over 200 letters were received from a broad diversity of applicants from across the country. While a letter was not required as a condition of applying for a SIF grant, this preliminary data will allow the Corporation to anticipate the actual volume of SIF applications that will be received by the April 8, 2010 application deadline.
The next step in the SIF application process is for potential intermediary applicants to submit their completed applications, including the match verification letters, to the Corporation by the deadline on April 8, 2010.
All potential applicants are encouraged to reassess whether they meet the criteria for a grantee (an existing grantmaking institution) or a subgrantee (a nonprofit community organization). The SIF competition is focused on the selection of intermediary grantmaking institutions; subgrantees will be competitively selected by intermediary applicants either as part of their SIF application, or as part of a competitive selection process conducted by SIF grantees post-award.
The Corporation held a Technical Assistance call on February 24, 2010, which included a discussion about how a nonprofit community organization could be appropriately involved with the SIF at this time. An audio recording and transcript of that call can be accessed here Please be aware that the Corporation cannot offer individualized eligibility determinations.
All potential applicants are further encouraged to continue to check this website for updates. An FAQ update has now been posted here and additional eGrants guidance will be posted at least three weeks prior to the April 8, 2010 deadline.
The Corporation wishes to thank all who engaged in the public process to design and implement the SIF. The Corporation particularly thanks the greater than 200 organizations and individuals who provided feedback on the draft NOFA.
The public feedback comments were instrumental in generating policy changes that significantly broaden SIF eligibility. In particular, the comments led to:
- A lowering of the minimum grant award to $1 million from $5 million in the draft NOFA.
This change will enable a broader pool of intermediaries to apply, including grantmakers working in rural areas or states with less philanthropic resources.
- The elimination of an explicit preference for intermediaries that have already selected their subgrantees at the time of application.
This change will ensure that a broader pool of effective nonprofit community organizations have a chance to access SIF funding and work in partnership with SIF intermediaries. It will also increase the quality of the subgrantees selected, as intermediaries will not rush to complete their processes by the application deadline.
Over 50 public comments were received on the use of evidence of effectiveness and impact in the SIF. Many of the comments encouraged the Corporation to be more inclusive about the types of evaluation that would produce strong evidence of impact. The Corporation will capture these insights in its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), a companion document to the NOFA. The FAQ will clarify that the Corporation expects subgrantees to demonstrate some level of impact in order to receive a grant, but does not expect that most initial subgrantees will have the strongest level of evidence. The SIF is designed to build the evidence base of programs over time using rigorous evaluation tools that are appropriate for the intervention. The Corporation is committed to ongoing discussion about evidence moving forward through learning communities and other forums.
The Corporation is grateful for time that was spent to share this input, and looks forward to ongoing engagement and dialogue with the public over the life of the SIF.
Click here for the SIF Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA).
Applicants must apply using eGrants, the Corporation’s web-based application system. Click here to access eGrants.