Contact Information

601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049 - 0001
(202) 434-2069
Social Innovation Fund 2014

Executive Summary

AARP Foundation is an existing grantmaking institution established in 1963. We work with organizations in communities across the nation to help the growing numbers of older people in crisis every day. Our work involves investing in innovative approaches and connecting struggling Americans that are 50 and older to programs, resources and benefits to help improve their lives. AARP Foundation is requesting a grant of $1 million dollars from the CNCS under the 2014 SIF NOFA. The proposed grant period will be from September 2014 to September 2018. The main source of match is from AARP Foundation though we are eager to leverage the SIF award to secure new and renewed funding toward our match.

AARP Foundation is applying as an intermediary for the issue-based Social Innovation Fund (SIF) in the priority area of Economic Opportunity within multiple low-income communities in five states. The AARP Foundation/SIF initiative will be used to build on preliminary evidence of its pre-identified intervention: the Women's Economic Stability Initiative (WESI) by 1) using high quality outcome data from its initial community college pilot sites located in New Mexico, Central Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Northern Florida; and 2) rigorously evaluate the program with the goal of moving it from one of "evidence-informed" to evidence-based. The framework for evaluating the WESI model focuses on three key and interconnected questions: Are women able to generate a steady source of family sustaining wages? Are they able to develop the financial behaviors and capability that help them manage their income effectively? Are communities building the requisite and sustained capacity to help older adults take advantage of economic opportunities to secure their short- and long-term financial future? AARP Foundation is uniquely qualified to support the focus, goals and approach of the proposed AARP Foundation/SIF initiative based on its work over the past three years. The Foundation has 1) implemented a competitive grant program addressing income, housing, hunger and isolation issues among economically disadvantaged people 50+, 2) researched and pilot-tested a relevant unduplicated program design that has evolved into WESI, 3) developed and enhanced user-friendly data management systems for supporting its grantees and monitoring performance and 4) developed a strategic partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) that will contribute to the success of the proposed SIF initiative. The primary advocacy organization for the nation's community colleges, AACC represents nearly 1,200 associate degree-granting institutions and more than 13 million students of all ages. AARP Foundation's knowledge of the older adult population and AACC's thorough knowledge of the community college system make this a powerful partnership for achieving long-term outcomes.

AARP Foundation's theory of change posits that helping older people obtain jobs is not enough-successful interventions must occur at both the individual and community level to help older adults find employment in growth industries and increase their financial capability. Through the SIF initiative we will: Increase program completion rates from baselines set in 2014; track percentage of program participants who obtain and retain employment in quality jobs in high-need industries; increase work related skills and educational attainment in growth occupations; increase financial capability including savings, debt reduction and asset management; and assess generationally-relevant skills needed to serve older adults. AARP Foundation will use a competitive process and fund five community colleges in one of two categories: 1) those who want to initiate the WESI model; and 2) those who are implementing the model and want to improve it and expand their reach. For the SIF initiative, AARP Foundation has a 5-step approach for growing subgrantee impact by: 1. Creating networks and building a learning community among subgrantees; 2. Building the internal business case for integrating the WESI program into community college strategic plans during and after SIF funding; 3. Supporting subgrantees to use data effectively for learning, program improvement and decision-making; 4. Assistance with identifying sustained funding at the national, state and local levels; and 5. Promoting the deepening of local partnerships to expand capacity to serve older adults in their communities.

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