Social Innovation Fund: 2011 Competition

In 2011, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) held its second rigorous, highly competitive grant selection process and announced new awards for five outstanding grantmaking intermediaries.

Like the 11 organizations selected 2010, these five represent experienced grantmakers with strong track records of success who proposed compelling, innovative programs to tackle some of our country's biggest challenges in our most needy areas.

2011 grantees include:

2011 Social Innovation Fund GranteeAward
Corporation for Supportive Housing$2.3 million
Mile High United Way$3.6 million
NCB Capital Impact$2.0 million
U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation$2.0 million
United Way for Southeastern Michigan$4.0 million

Each of these grantees received initial awards funding two years of their program. The total amount distributed to this group in 2011 was $13.9 million.

In addition, the SIF provided $32.5 million in continuation funding to nine of its 11 existing grantees in accordance with the original terms of those investments and the progress to date for those grantees. Continuation grant amounts are listed below.

Continuation Funding RecipientsAward
AIDS United$0.6 million
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky$1.0 million
Local Initiatives Support Corporation$4.2 million
Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City$5.7 million
New Profit$5.0 million
REDF$3.0 million
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation$10.0 million
United Way of Greater Cincinnati$1.0 million
Venture Philanthropy Partners$2.0 million

FY 2011 Competition for New Grantees

Building on the 2010 competition, the 2011 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) sought the best proposals with a strong theory of change that would drive impact in low-income communities focusing on three issue areas: youth development, healthy futures, and economic development.

In total, CNCS received 24 applications by the deadline of April 12, 2011. Six applications were found to be non-compliant with application guidelines based on an internal review. The remaining 18 organizations – requesting a total of $24.6 million in annual federal funding – entered the formal review process.

These 18 applications embodied active collaborations of more than 53 unique organizations or parties, including foundations, nonprofits, universities, and local governments. Of course, the Social Innovation Fund did not mandate these partnerships – rather, they developed because the parties saw collaboration with other capable organizations as a powerful way to amplify the impact of their work.

In addition, these proposals were well-balanced among the three targeted issue areas – economic opportunity (5 applicants), youth development and school support (8), and healthy futures (3). Two applicants addressed multiple issue areas. The applications came from 14 states, 10 of which are not represented by our current set of grantees. Seven of the 18 applications were from organizations that applied last year but did not receive funding.

In accordance with the Corporation for National and Community Service Transparency Policy, the application materials and expert reviewer comments on all successful applications are available below.

Economic Opportunity

NCB Capital Impact

Healthy Futures

Corporation for Supportive Housing

US Soccer Foundation

Youth Development

Mile High United Way

United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Review Process

Applicants were assessed through a four-part review process that included:

  • Internal Compliance Review: Applications are screened by CNCS staff to ensure they meet basic application requirements listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
  • External Expert Review: The expert program and evaluation reviews occurred simultaneously as part of the same process. This means that every compliant application was reviewed by one panel of program reviewers and one panel of evaluation reviewers. Evaluation reviewers focused specifically on applicants’ use of evidence, data and evaluation, while program reviewers assessed the remaining criteria for the application set forth in the NOFO. Twenty-eight recognized experts from the nonprofit, philanthropic and public sectors were engaged in this process and they used these review forms.
  • Internal/Staff Review: Based on the analysis of quantitative and qualitative feedback from the reviewers, a subset of applicants entered the staff review phase. Applicants were reviewed by a panel of program staff reviewers. Senior staff reviewers were also convened to provide their perspective on the applications. These reviews assessed the applications based on program design, organizational capacity, and budget cost-effectiveness as well as applicants’ ability to add to the SIF’s existing portfolio. The Office of General Counsel was also engaged to help assess identified eligibility concerns.
  • Clarification Stage: CNCS staff engaged in additional review and analysis to clarify items that were identified by expert and staff reviewers, SIF program staff, and the Office of Grants Management. Examples of such items include: requesting details around the subgrant competition to ensure it would be open and competitive; clarifying evaluation plans to ensure rigor; and clarifying the role and capacity of identified program partners.
  • Final Review and Decision: Using all review materials available including expert review scores and comments, program staff review scores and comments, senior staff discussion comments, clarification responses, and the applications themselves, the SIF team assessed applicants against the review criteria, balancing and additional considerations. Taking all review results into consideration, five applicants were judged to be superior in terms of the quality of their application, their contribution to the overall SIF portfolio, the unique contributions they could make to the social innovation field and, perhaps most importantly, the impact they could have on their communities.

Continuation Process

All 11 2010 SIF grantees submitted continuation reports which included updates on progress to date (focusing on subgrant programs and evaluation), challenges and how they were overcome, staffing changes, and requested budget changes. In determining potential recommendations for additional funding, Social Innovation Fund program staff reviewed these reports along with submitted progress and financial reports to evaluate the progress each has made to date towards identified program goals. Based on this analysis, four grantees were determined to be well-positioned to accept additional funding.

FY 2012 Competition Page

FY 2010 Competition Page

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