News From the Social Innovation Fund

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From the Director

We’re thrilled with the excitement and interest we’ve seen in the 2014 SIF Notice of Funding Availability, and can’t believe in less than two weeks, on April 22, the application will close.  We hope your application is among those received from grantmaking institutions committed to funding innovative, evidence-based, change-making community solutions.  If you are a grantmaker that prioritizes innovation, requires evidence of results, and are serious about finding lasting solutions to our nation’s challenges, you should be applying for a SIF grant. There is still plenty of time to get your application in before the deadline! 

We have put together many helpful resources, including a NOFA Fact Sheet, FAQs, and additional materials, to assist you during the application process. Around 100 participants joined us during each of our technical assistance webinars during which we presented an overview of the NOFA, discussed the evidence and evaluation criteria, and answered thoughtful questions from participants.  

We also hosted our first Veterans webinar with Koby Langley, CNCS Senior Advisor for Wounded Warriors, Veterans and Military Families, and Mark Brunner, Senior Adviser to U.S. Senator Mark Warner.  We are also grateful to our colleagues at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector for hosting a webinar for the foundations and nonprofits connected to their network.

If you are in the process of completing your application or just would like to learn more about the SIF, you can view a recording of our past webinars, read our recent blog posts and review successful applications from previous competitions. Also, don’t take our word for it, you can read why current grantees GreenLight Fund and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation think other grantmakers should apply as well.

We’re excited to expand the SIF family and look forward to seeing your applications soon!

Michael Smith
Director, Social Innovation Fund
Corporation for National and Community Service

Highlights from CNCS and the White House

Minnesota Reading Corps is Closing the Achievement Gap

A rigorous third-party evaluation found that AmeriCorps tutors helped elementary students achieve significantly higher literacy levels than students without tutors. For example, the average kindergarten student with an AmeriCorps tutor performed twice as well as students without one. SIF Director Michael Smith recently joined CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer and U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton on a visit to Harris Elementary School in Washington, D.C., to see this innovative program in action.

President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

In February, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative and national call to action to help advance life outcomes and opportunities for boys and young men of color. We’re proud that President Obama asked CNCS and our CEO Wendy Spencer to serve on the My Brother’s Keeper federal task force. SIF Director Michael Smith is part of the team that designed and launched the effort, and many of the youth standing on the stage behind the President during the launch were from SIF/Venture Philanthropy Partner grantees Latin American Youth Center, KIPP DC, and Communities in schools.

>VIDEO: As a student at KIPP DC, Greg Dendy talks about his experiences as a young student and leader in the classroom. This year, Gregory was selected to be a student leader in the prestigious Capital Partners for Education program.  He also serves as the lead hospitality volunteer for a local homeless shelter.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Start of 2014 Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Competition

In its fifth round of competition, the i3 program continues to develop and expand practices that accelerate student achievement and prepare every student to succeed in college and in their careers. The competition continues to use broad priorities in addition to more detailed subparts that target specific needs. This structure allows the i3 program to build a portfolio of solutions and corresponding evidence for different approaches to addressing key challenges in public education. 

The President’s Budget Shows Significant Support for Social Innovation and Service

The President’s budget requests $1.05 billion for CNCS and its programs, which is slightly above the FY 2014 enacted level. The budget supports the growth of innovative, evidence-based programs through the Social Innovation Fund, which generates significant non-federal funds to support effective programs that improve the lives and expand economic opportunity for low-income individuals. The budget maintains the high level of funding enacted in 2014, $70 million, and continues to reserve up to 20 percent of funds for innovative Pay for Success initiatives.

Presidential Innovation Fellows Round 3:  Serve. Create. Innovate.

Applications are now being accepted for the third round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. This initiative pairs talented, diverse individuals from outside government with top federal innovators to implement game-changing projects that make the federal government work better for the American people.

Two Weeks Left to Apply for White House Internships!

The application period for the White House Internship Program is now open. The President, First Lady, and staff are committed to providing young leaders from all across the nation an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain exposure to the public service sector through the White House Internship Program, a public service leadership program developed to provide hands-on experience and cultivate such skills. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve in our nation’s executive branch.

SIF News

Innovation to Impact: Obama’s Social Innovation Fund at Four

Nearly five years after President Obama announced the launch of the Social Innovation Fund, more than $177 million in grants have been awarded, more than $423 million in non-federal match commitments raised, 221 nonprofits funded, 86 interventions tested, and more than 270,000 people reached. Beyond the statistics, the Social Innovation Fund is at the intersection where innovation meets impact.  The SIF demonstrates that transformative changes are occurring in many areas across the country, resulting in the widening of economic opportunities for more people, increases in youth development, and greater access to healthy futures. 

In a Stanford Social Innovation Review blog post, SIF Director Michael Smith discusses the fund’s progress, pitfalls, and what lies ahead. Also, if you haven’t seen the new GEO SSIR Supplement, be sure to read the Q&A with Michael  in which he explains how the fund balances innovation and support for proven programs.

Keep Spreading the Word!

The Social Innovation Fund thanks all of our outreach partners who have been doing an outstanding job in promoting and getting the word out about the 2014 SIF competition.  Please continue to spread the word about the SIF NOFA. Be sure to utilize the NOFA Outreach Toolkit to promote the SIF competition to your affiliates via your organization’s newsletter or eblast and to encourage qualified members of your network to apply. The toolkit includes sample text for blog posts or newsletters, sample tweets, SIF fact sheets, images, and videos, in addition to other outreach materials. 

2014 Cross Sector Leadership Fellows Announced

We are excited to see Social Innovation Fund Program Officer Kirsten Breckenridge in the inaugural class of Presidio Institute’s Cross Sector Leadership Fellows. Kirsten, the SIF’s first Program Officer, will be among leaders from various sectors across government, nonprofits, and business that will enhance their skill set, expand their network, and alter their perceptions on how to best solve community challenges.

Marching Toward a Healthy Future

Our colleagues in AmeriCorps designated March as Healthy Futures Month as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration. We share their appreciation for healthy futures, as helping families’ live healthier lives remains a top priority of the Social Innovation Fund. Through our grantees and partners, we are engaging individuals and groups by collaborating with community organizations, nonprofits, and other stakeholders to broaden the conversation, replicate successes, and bring to scale programs that are working to end health disparities. 

SIF funding is enabling the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) – and other organizations that help individuals and families live healthier lives – reach more people, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable.  To learn more about CSH’s innovative approach of utilizing housing to tackle health disparities, check out this recent blog post.  Also learn more about our other dynamic Healthy Futures grantees: AIDS United, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Missouri Foundation for Health, The John A. Hartford Foundation, and the U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation. Also be sure to take a look at AmeriCorps’ Healthy Futures Toolkit to get access to social media tips and great online resources. 

Road Notes

Since the SIF 2014 NOFA was announced last month, the SIF team has been busy travelling across the country meeting with our partners and allies, sharing the SIF opportunity with grantmaking organizations and spreading the excitement of this new funding opportunity.  

We are especially thankful to the partner organizations that have graciously hosted us. Below are a few highlights and photos from recent travels:

February 24 (Philadelphia, PA):  Michael visited Year Up Philadelphia at Peirce College – Thank you Executive Director Diana Campbell and Philadelphia GreenLight Fund ED Matt Joyce and the Peirce College Year Up team! Michael also participated in a SIF Potential Applicants Briefing as part of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia and Grantmaker’s for Effective Organizations forum on local and national donor collaboratives.  Michael discussed the SIF’s focus on scaling impact through local and national collaboration, as well as the promising practices of sharing information and learnings with the field.  Other speakers included GreenLight Fund’s Matt Joyce and Jennie Sparandara of the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN). 

March 6 (Washington, DC): Washington Grantmakers CEOs SIF Potential Applicants Briefing– Thank you President Tamara Copeland!

March 10 (Los Angeles, CA): 2014 GEO Conference Potential Applicants Briefing - Thanks to GEO’s Director of Programs, Meghan Duffy, and all of the participants! 

Social Innovation Fund Partners

Michael with SIF partners (United Way Denver, United Way of Southeastern Michigan, GreenLight Fund, Venture Philanthropy Partners, and REDF) at 2014 GEO Conference.

March 12 (Los Angeles, CA): SIF Potential Applicants Briefing – Thank you:

  • Sylia Obagi (Annenberg Foundation),
  • Claire Peeps (Durfee Foundation),
  • Tara Roth (Goldhirsh Foundation),
  • Beatriz Solis (California Endowment)!

March 13 (Seattle, WA): SIF Program Officer Keisha Kersey conducted a SIF Potential Applicants Briefing to grantmakers in the Northwest.  Attendees participated both in person and via phone, and included grantmakers from Seattle, rural areas of Washington and Oregon, and as far away as Bethel, Alaska. This event was hosted by Philanthropy Northwest – Thank you!  

March 19 (New York, NY): Michael and Jonathan Greenblatt participated in a site visit to Henry Street Settlement, a NYC Mayor’s Fund/CEO subgrantee; Thanks for hosting us Mayors Fund/CEO!

Michael and Jonathan also participated in a packed NYC SIF Potential Applicants Briefing and met with leadership from our NYC Grantees: CSH, LISC, Mayor’s Fund, CEO, the Hartford Foundation, and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.  Remarks were also given by Sinead Keegan (CEO’s SIF Program Coordinator), Kate Dempsey (CEO’s Director of Budget and Operations), and Kathleen Carey who is with CNCS’ New York State Office.  

Visit to Henry Street Settlement

Visit to Henry Street Settlement with Jonathan Greenblatt and NYC Mayor's Fund and Center for Economic Opportunity.

March 21 & 24 (Southwest Tour): SIF Program Officer Kirsten Breckinridge presented three SIF Potential Applicants Briefings – two hosted by the Conference of Southwest Foundations (CSF) and one hosted by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Thanks to Lucille DiDomenico at CSF and Trey Bowles at Startup Texas for organizing, and to the foundations across Texas and Oklahoma that came!

March 28 (Boston, MA): 2014 SIF Potential Applicants Briefing presented by SIF Director Michael Smith and hosted by GreenLight Fund, New Profit, Inc., and Associated Grantmakers. Thanks to Margaret Hall (GreenLight Fund), Tulaine Montgomery (New Profit) and Bob Giannino-Racine (uAspire) for presenting as well. 

April 1 (Minneapolis, MN): 2014 SIF Potential Applicants Briefing presented by SIF Program Officer Keisha Kersey and hosted by the Minnesota Council on Foundations. 

Recent Blogs on Tumblr

Social Innovation Fund

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Social Innovation Fund. Read the entire story here.

Social Innovation Fund Greenlight Fund

5 Reasons to Consider Applying to the Social Innovation Fund. Read the entire story here.


Partners in the News

Guess Who Made FORTUNE’s ‘World’s Greatest Leaders List’?

Vanessa Kirsch, Founder and Managing Director of SIF Grantee New Profit, and her husband, Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year and founder of Be The Change Inc., are featured in a FORTUNE Magazine and CNN Money piece titled “World’s Greatest Leaders: 9 dynamic duos.” We are proud of these faithful champions of service and social innovation! 

The Collective Impact Forum is Now Live!

The Collective Impact Forum is the place for collective impact practitioners and those interested in collective impact — from business leaders, to nonprofits, to funders, to people in government, and others — to come together to share challenges, problem-solve, and learn from each other. It is an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, in partnership with many others working to advance the practice of collective impact. 

AIDS United is Committed to Compliance

AIDS United developed a toolkit that helps demystify the process of maintaining compliance with federal grants. The compliance toolkit includes a wealth of information, including tips for sustainability and succession planning, which is especially important for the first cohort of SIF grantees that are now coming to the end of their five-year funding. Additionally, AIDS United’s latest policy update includes a plethora of information on its lobbying efforts, campaign work, and other initiatives it is engaged in as a part of its work to create healthier futures for those living with HIV/AIDS.

New Interim Report Shows REDF’s Commitment to Making a Measurable Impact

Two of REDF’s hallmarks are its commitment to creating jobs and employment pathways for people that are facing multiple barriers to work and its dedication to measuring social impact and using that data to improve practice.  REDF was awarded a SIF grant to help scale social enterprise and increase its base of evidence. Check out the highlights and view the full report

Cincinnati Businesses are Helping Students Graduate from School

Cincinnati is home to “educational partnerships” in which businesses and schools are teaming together to form unique collaborations focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing students for productive careers and sustainable livelihoods.  Two SIF grantees, the United Way for a Greater Cincinnati and the Strive Partnership, are a part of this effective and innovative approach.

The Road to Scale Runs Through Public Systems

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation is touted as a great example of the ability of proven programs to reach more people via collaborative partnerships and assistance from the Social Innovation Fund. However, much more remains to be learned about how to scale up human services programs effectively.

From the Field

At Last, Someone Invented Innovation!
Huffington Post

In this blog post, Irv Katz, President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, ponders whether or not “innovation” is a fad that will fade away from the public eye in due time. He discusses how even the federal government through the Social Innovation Fund is excited about innovation. Will this momentum last or is it just a trend? 

It's Time to Play Moneyball for Government
Government Executive

Supporting outcome-focused grant reform, such as the use of three-tiered grants, where grantees receive more funding when they “have proven evidence of how their proposed approach delivers impact.” The budget triples funding for these programs from 2010 levels to $680 million. They include the Education Department’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program, the Labor Department’s Workforce Innovation Fund, and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund.

Younger Philanthropists Seek Connections to Causes They Support
The Bellingham Herald

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are more than 40 million Americans in Gen X and they hold the highest education levels of any previous generation. Gen X likes to get involved, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, with the highest volunteer rates at nearly 30 percent.

Suggested Tweets

Less than a month remaining to apply for a #SIFund grant. Don’t miss out! Apply today and spread the word.  

Congrats #SIFund PO Kirsten Breckenridge for being selected to be in the inaugural class of @PresidioInst #Xsector fellows!

Read about #SIFund in the news and check out our videos and photos on our Media Hub:

Check out past successful applications of grantees who were awarded a #SIFund grant, then apply.

Up to $65.8M in grants available from the #SIFund to grow community solutions. Apply by April 22. Please RT.

New $65.8M #SIFund competition prioritizes opportunity youth & collective impact. Apply by 4/22.

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