Meet the New Director of the Social Innovation Fund

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Meet the New Director of the Social Innovation Fund

Michael Smith, SIF


It is my honor to share some great news from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

In July, Michael Smith, a recognized leader in the world of innovation, philanthropy and public-private partnerships, will join our agency as the Director of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). This selection underscores President Obama’s strong commitment to this ground-breaking program that his Administration launched just three years ago.

The SIF is a CNCS program that mobilizes private and public resources to grow community-based nonprofits.  These programs must provide rigorous evidence of results in the focus areas of economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.  The SIF has awarded grants to 20 leading grant-makers that are funding more than 200 nonprofits in 37 states and the District of Columbia, creating the opportunity to generate $350 million in non-federal funds. To date, SIF programs have already served 174,000 individuals.

Michael is the ideal leader for building on this progress. He brings deep experience combining innovation, technology and collaboration to local and national efforts aimed at building capacity in communities in need. He comes to CNCS after serving as Senior Vice President for Social Innovation at the Case Foundation, where he was a member of the senior leadership team and led social innovation strategy, including investments, programs and partnerships.

Michael guided the Foundation’s entrepreneurial approach to giving, designed and managed creative campaigns to expand giving and engagement and played a key role in the design and management of numerous highly regarded public-private partnerships with the Case Foundation’s co-founders, the Obama and Bush Administrations, and leading corporations and philanthropies. Most recently, Michael led the Foundation’s effort to create the Startup America Partnership with the Kauffman Foundation and the White House, which so far has resulted in more than 30 state affiliates, 13,000 member firms and billions of dollars in resources aimed at making it easier for entrepreneurs to scale companies and strengthen communities.

Michael has also been responsible for Case Foundation sector-building initiatives like the recent Be Fearless campaign, seeking to foster more big bets and risk-taking in the social sector, as well as the Foundation’s effort to catalyze greater use of impact investing to drive social change. Before joining the Case Foundation, Michael worked at the Beaumont Foundation of America, PowerUP: Bridging the Digital Divide, Inc., the Family Center Boys and Girls Club, and the National Crime Prevention Council. He also served on the staff of Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts and holds a B.A. in Communications from Marymount University.

I’ve known Michael for many years, first meeting him when he worked with Jean Case and me on the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. His passion for strengthening communities in need, his creative and innovative approach as well as his gregarious and collaborative nature have made him a joy to work with over the years, and gives me great excitement about his leadership of the SIF.  

As we welcome Michael to the CNCS leadership team, I also want to recognize Lois Nembhard, who has served as acting director of the SIF. Michael is fortunate to join Lois and the amazing SIF staff.

We are also grateful to have so many champions for the SIF in among the White House staff, most notably Jonathan Greenblatt, who serves as Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the Domestic Policy Council.

Working together, we will continue to achieve great things for our country through the SIF.


Wendy Spencer Signature

Wendy Spencer
CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service