Washington, DC—Stephen Goldsmith, Interim Board Chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, participated in a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute today on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) authorized under the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Goldsmith described the Fund “as a catalyst to spur additional investments” in innovative results-oriented solutions that have the potential to address pressing social problems and help transform lives and communities.
“The SIF will help to unearth innovation, to reach those organizations and programs who are thinking more broadly about how to solve our nation's challenges,” Goldsmith said. “These additional resources have great promise and stand to drastically improve the way services and goods are delivered on the local level, and communities and taxpayers deserve no less.”
The panel discussion, “Will the Social Innovation Fund Fund Social Innovation,” comes on the heels of the Corporation's national conference call held last week that provided current information on the progress of the SIF and its funding priorities. The conference call was the first public information event on the SIF since late June and attended by more than 600 people.
The SIF will offer grants of between $1 million and $10 million a year for five years to grant-making entities, which must match the grant amount dollar for dollar. The Fund will focus on growing the capacity of evidence-based programs, providing local communities flexible funding sources to move beyond the status quo to employ innovative solutions to problems, and improving the use of data and evaluation to raise the bar on what programs the government funds.
The Corporation is expected to issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on the SIF before the end of 2009. The “grant-making entities” eligible for the fund includes but extends beyond traditional foundations, including state and local governments, community foundations, policy-focused associations, and national nonprofits, and venture philanthropy groups. Through the SIF, grant-making entities will have the opportunity to increase their investments in nonprofit organizations – many of whom go unnoticed – that have aggressively developed solutions to problems including homelessness, illiteracy, and high school drop out rates.
The SIF is a significant part of President Obama's priority to seek out solution to our nation's challenges that have resisted traditional approaches and support innovation that is working in communities across the country.