Social Innovation Fund Applications Show Strong Community Endorsement of New Approach

Social Innovation Fund Applications Show Strong Community Endorsement of New Approach
Apr 22, 2010

260 Organizations Collaborate to Submit Requests for Funding

Washington, DC – The Corporation for National and Community Service released the number of applications submitted for its Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant on a conference call today, and emphasized the SIF's extraordinary opportunity to stimulate innovation, support community-led approaches, and drive results-oriented responses to critical social challenges. The announcement comes as the Corporation marks the successes of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – which authorized the new innovative Fund – one year after its passage. Click here to listen to the conference call.

“The SIF will help align organizations, individuals and investors across the country around the belief that our most critical social challenges can be solved by high-impact nonprofits,” said Paul Carttar, the Corporation's Director of the Social Innovation Fund. “The SIF reflects a new role for the Federal government as a catalyst, not conductor, of the work of local communities.”

Approximately 260 organizations collaborated to submit 69 applications for SIF grants, affirming the promise of the SIF to break down barriers to cooperation and achieve greater impact. The applications represent the breath and diversity of the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors, and propose work in each of the SIF's focus areas – economic opportunity, youth development and school support and healthy futures. Lead applicants (not including partners) span coast to coast, representing 25 states and the District of Columbia.

“Our national renewal is dependent on finding more innovative and effective approaches to some of our most intractable challenges,” said Marta Urquilla, Senior Advisor for Social Innovation. “The SIF drives resources to promising nonprofit organizations and builds the capacity of communities to tackle challenges head-on through collaboration.”

The Corporation has moved in earnest to implement a rigorous and fair, multi-phase application review process. Following the compliance review, applications will advance to the initial expert review phase and undergo two rounds of assessment by panels of expert reviewers drawn from the nonprofit, philanthropic and public sectors. These experts will review the applications in their totality, including program design, organizational capacity and budget. Over 50 expert reviewers are currently engaged and reading applications. Each reviewer has undergone a conflict of interest screen to ensure their impartiality and undertaken three orientation sessions. Additional experts are likely to be engaged in later stages of the selection process to gauge the risks and opportunities in the most promising proposals. Top applicants may also participate in clarification discussions to help the Corporation further assess the merits of their proposals.

In July, the Corporation expects to announce 7 – 10 awards to intermediary organizations in a diverse set of geographies and focused on the three issue areas. The annual awards will range from $1 million to $10 million. In total, the SIF is expected to focus nearly $200 million in public-private funds to scale approaches that work and test promising new innovations. Within six months of receiving an award, intermediary organizations will host competitions to assemble or complete the portfolio of nonprofits they will support over the next 3 to 5 years.

Over the long-term, the SIF has great potential to transform communities, the lives of millions of individuals, and the nonprofit sector, and to model a new way for government to address social challenges. According to Carttar, the principals undergirding the SIF – government empowering communities to identify and drive solutions; collaboration across sectors being critical to success; rewarding results as a strategy to stimulate innovation and grow impact; government cannot and should not do it alone – is what makes the SIF innovative.

The Corporation has a long history of successfully harnessing the compassion of Americans to serve others and leverage innovative solutions to address critical social challenges. Through the SIF and other programs, the Corporation is investing in models that work, finding new ways of doing business, and serving as a source of ideas for local communities. Specifically, the SIF is designed to:

  • Support innovative and effective nonprofits as they grow;
  • Generate new evidence and knowledge about how to address critical social challenges; and
  • Build the grant making infrastructure and supportive environment necessary for social innovation to flourish in a diverse set of geographies.

Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
(202) 491-8250

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