Federal Agency to Invest $65.8 Million to Grow Effective Community Solutions

Feb 23, 2014
New Funding Competition Seeks to Expand Opportunity, Encourage Innovation, and Deepen Impact
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) of up to $65.8 million for the 2014 grant competition of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). This is the largest grant pool in the history of the program.

The deadline for applications will be 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Successful applicants will receive grants of between $1 and $10 million per year for 3 to 5 years.

“Whether the issue is poverty or failing schools or childhood obesity, there's not a problem in America that's not being solved by someone, somewhere,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “The Social Innovation Fund seeks to build evidence of what works and expand it on a national scale to solve our greatest challenges. Through these funds, we are able to leverage public investments to expand programs with an early track record of success and build knowledge about their effectiveness.”

The Social Innovation Fund unites public and private resources to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that work. These solutions must have at least preliminary evidence of results in low-income communities in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. 

“For the SIF, 2014 will be a year of opportunity, innovation, and impact as we redouble our efforts to transform lives and strengthen communities through the power of innovation, evidence, and scale,” said Michael Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund. “We are laser-focused on identifying what works, maximizing impact on the ground, and responding to President Obama’s call to ensure we are doing all we can to expand opportunity for those in greatest need.”

The 2014 competition encourages applications with strong plans to support “opportunity youth,” those young people ages 16 to 24 who are disconnected from school or work, and other particularly vulnerable populations. The competition also encourages those applicants who plan to leverage the “Collective Impact” approach of local problem solving: business, government, and nonprofits work together to identify common challenges and effective solutions, and then take action together. The competition also seeks to support key Presidential priorities designed to expand opportunity for low-income individuals and distressed communities, such as Promise Zones.

In just three years, the SIF and its private-sector partners have invested more than half a billion dollars in compelling community solutions as a result of $177.6 million in federal grants and more than $423 million in non-federal match commitments. The SIF has made grants to 20 intermediaries and 217 nonprofits working in 37 states and the District of Columbia. These grantees have strong track records of identifying and growing high-performing nonprofit organizations and represent the diversity of the social sector.

During the 2014 fiscal year, CNCS plans to award approximately $65.8 million in grants, primarily to grantmaking intermediaries with track records of success in competitively selecting and growing high-performing nonprofit organizations. Each award will range from $1 to $10 million and will be matched dollar for dollar by the grantmaker. Grantmakers will then host their own open competitions to select innovative, effective nonprofits that will also match their grants 1:1, yielding up to $3 in private funding for every $1 in federal funding committed to this program.

Social Innovation Fund grantees receive significant technical assistance from CNCS to support implementation and evaluation of their programs. To date, we have worked with nonprofits and grantees to develop 72 strong, rigorous evaluation models. Participation in the Social Innovation Fund gives grantmakers greater access to a national network of funders and nonprofits that are committed to investing in results-oriented solutions that improve lives in low-income communities.

The SIF was given authority to use up to 20 percent of the $70 million appropriated in 2014 to implement a pilot program to advance Pay for Success approaches. Under Pay for Success, providers are only paid for services when there are positive results. Details on the goals and tactics of the pilot are under development.

Please consult the CNCS website to read or download a copy of the NOFA, which provides complete information about this grant competition and instructions on how to apply. The website also contains information on other resources CNCS will make available to potential applicants, including technical assistance calls, webinars and access to proposals and application executive summaries from previous competitions.
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