About the Social Innovation Fund
“Instead of wasting taxpayer money on programs that are obsolete or ineffective, government should be seeking out creative, results-oriented programs … and helping them replicate their efforts across America.” – President Obama (June 30, 2009).
Our nation is experiencing some of the greatest challenges in a generation, but it is also a time of great opportunity. We all know that progress on our social challenges has been too slow and limited resources have been spent on approaches that do not work. The Social Innovation Fund is committed to supporting innovation that will help achieve faster, more lasting progress, as opposed to marginal or incremental progress on our social problems. We are committed to supporting pioneering social entrepreneurs and innovators that are developing breakthrough solutions to local and national challenges, and we are leading the way to ensure federal resources are directed at efforts that have evidence that they work and can be replicated in communities in need nationwide.
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a key White House initiative and program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), combines public and private resources to grow the impact of innovative, community-based solutions that have compelling evidence of improving the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the United States. The SIF invests in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.
The SIF makes grants to experienced grantmaking “intermediaries” that are well-positioned within communities to identify the most promising programs and guide them towards greater impact and stronger evidence of success. These grants range from $1-$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 working in low-income communities that 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.
In addition to funding, Social Innovation Fund grantees receive significant technical assistance to support implementation of their innovative programs. Participation in the Social Innovation Fund gives grantmakers greater visibility and plugs them into a national network of funders and nonprofits that are committed to fostering social innovation to improve lives in low-income communities throughout the U.S.
Progress to Date
In just three years the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and our private-sector partners have invested more than a half a billion dollars in compelling community solutions. The SIF portfolio represents a $177.6 million investment in 20 intermediary grantees and 218 participating nonprofits working in 37 states and the District of Columbia. This modest federal investment is expected to leverage more than $423 million in non-federal match commitments. The 221 nonprofit organizations being funded are conducting 72 interventions and evaluating results through highly rigorous models. As models develop and demonstrate results, we anticipate that this set of effective solutions will attract a diverse array of funders seeking results.