Inaugural Social Innovation Fund Grants Awarded to Experienced Innovators

Jul 22, 2010, 10:30 ET from Corporation for National and Community Service

Portfolio is a collection of bold programs targeting $123 million in resources to community solutions in the areas of economic opportunity, health and youth development

WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to the increasing health needs, economic challenges and gaps in youth achievement facing low-income rural and urban communities, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced its inaugural Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grants today. The grants will target millions in public and private funds to grow effective solutions to persistent social challenges across more than 20 states.

The SIF portfolio consists of 11 organizations selected through a rigorous review process involving 60 external experts. The grantees, who represent a diverse set of nonprofit organizations and private and community foundations, share a track record of success at identifying and growing high-performing nonprofit organizations and their proposals offer a set of compelling ideas for how to use innovation and evidence to tackle social challenges in a new way.  

"This portfolio is a collection of extraordinary organizations with an unparalleled body of knowledge and expertise on growing what works," said Patrick Corvington, the Corporation's CEO. "They are all driven by the search for bold solutions and recognize that we must use evidence to target limited resources where they will have the greatest impact."

The grantees will address urgent needs across three key issue areas – economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development and school support – by providing funding and other support necessary to drive results and impact. The portfolio includes $74 million in secured private match funds, which is beyond the statutory requirement of $50 million. When combined with federal resources, this will result in $123 million being targeted toward promising nonprofit organizations that train the unemployed, increase access to heath services for the underserved and prepare youth for academic and economic success.

An initiative that represents a new way of doing business for the federal government, the $50 million SIF fund leverages a 3:1 private-public match, sets a higher standard for evidence, empowers communities to identify and drive solutions, and creates an incentive for grant making organizations to more effectively target funding to solutions that generate real impact. The SIF is a critical component of the Administration's broader agenda – led by the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation – to redefine how evidence, innovation, service and public-private cooperation can be used to tackle urgent social challenges.

"Over the long-term, the SIF will contribute to the development of the grant making infrastructure that supports the work of high-impact nonprofit organizations and inform other federal, state and local efforts to address social challenges," said Paul Carttar, Director of the SIF at the Corporation. "It offers an avenue for community-driven solutions to grow and demonstrate their value."

To select grantees, the Corporation implemented a rigorous, multi-phase application review process over a three-month period. Over 60 experts with extensive experience as social innovators, directors of nonprofit organizations, and evaluators of social programs, provided external input across three stages of the review, assessing applications against the criteria published in the SIF Notice of Federal Funds Availability (NOFA) in February of this year. The applications were evaluated based on their program design, organizational capacity and budget. In the final stage of the review, senior members of the Corporation's staff were joined by external reviewers to assess the qualities of the top applications against the portfolio criteria in the NOFA. The finalists were asked to participate in clarification discussions to help the Corporation further assess the merits of their applications.

SIF grantees will conduct open competitions across multiple geographies to select nonprofit organizations (subgrantees) within six months of receiving awards. Three of the 11 grantees applied with competitively pre-selected subgrantees. Each of the eight pre-selected subgrantees have evidence of effectiveness along a continuum of preliminary, to moderate, to strong; intermediaries are required to fund approaches with at least preliminary evidence and fund evaluation efforts to grow the number of approaches with moderate to strong evidence.

Below is the list of the SIF grantees and a short description of the work the grants will fund. Click here to read more information about the portfolio and the grantees' track records of success.

Economic Opportunity

  • Jobs for the Future, Inc. ($7.7 million; 2 year grant) and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) will expand their targeted training and technical assistance to at least 23,000 low-income individuals over three years while also addressing the critical skill needs of more than 1,000 employers. The funds will dramatically increase economic opportunities for disadvantaged workers and job seekers through investments in regional workforce collaboratives that partner with employers to identify jobs and career pathways in high-growth industries.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation ($4.2 million; 1 year grant) will grow Financial Opportunity Centers – a workforce development and asset-building model that boosts earnings, reduces expenses and coaches low-income families on how to make better financial decisions – to five new cities and 7,500 total participants. The Centers are a core component of the organization's strategy to build sustainable communities.
  • Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City ($5.7 million; 1 year grant) and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) will replicate five effective anti-poverty programs originally piloted by CEO in eight urban areas.  By advancing the education, employment and financial savings of low-income adults and families, the programs will combat poverty across a diverse cross-section of America.
  • REDF ($3 million; 2 year grant) will create job opportunities for thousands of Californians with multiple barriers to employment – including dislocated youth, individuals who have been homeless or  incarcerated, and those with severe mental illness – in sustainable nonprofit social enterprises in low-income communities throughout the state. The project includes testing to determine the potential of these enterprises as scalable employment vehicles.

Healthy Futures

  • Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky ($2 million; 2 year grant) will improve access to needed health services, reduce health risks and disparities, and promote health equity in 6-10 low-income communities in Kentucky. Subgrantees will focus on testing innovative strategies to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, curb smoking and other unhealthy habits, and, increase access to health services in underserved communities. Competitively pre-selected subgrantee: Barren River District Health Department ($250,000).
  • Missouri Foundation for Health ($2 million; 2 year grant) will invest in 10-20 targeted low-income communities across the state to reduce risk factors and the prevalence of two preventable causes of chronic disease and death: tobacco use and obesity. The project draws on an integrated community change model blending two transformative models of prevention on obesity and tobacco control. 
  • National AIDS Fund ($3.6 million; 1 year grant) will support innovative strategies that increase access to care and improve health outcomes for at least 3,500 low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The project will employ rigorous evaluation, informing the implementation of the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy and offering lessons that reduce barriers to care for a broad range of people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases.

Youth Development and School Support

  • New Profit Inc. ($5 million; 1 year grant) will collaborate with five to six innovative youth-focused nonprofit organizations with existing evidence to yield significant improvements in helping young people navigate the increasingly complex path from high school to college and productive employment. The project will expand the reach of these nonprofits to improve the lives of nearly 8,000 young people in low-income communities throughout the country. Competitively pre-selected subgrantees: College Summit ($2 million); iMentor ($750,000); Year Up ($2 million).
  • The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation ($10 million; 1 year grant) will combine large grants, strategic business planning, rigorous evaluation and capital aggregation to increase the scale and impact of up to 10 youth development organizations in communities of need across the U.S. The subgrantees will focus on improving economically disadvantaged young people's educational skills and workforce readiness as well as helping them to avoid high-risk behavior.
  • Venture Philanthropy Partners ($4 million; 2 year grant) will create a powerful network of effective nonprofit organizations in the Washington D.C. National Capital Region supporting an integrated approach to addressing the education and employment needs of low-income and vulnerable youth ages 14-24. Competitively pre-selected subgrantees: College Summit National Capital Region ($372,000); KIPP DC ($656,000); Latin American Youth Center ($500,000); Year Up National Capital Region ($207,000).


  • United Way of Greater Cincinnati ($2 million; 2 year grant) the Strive Partnership and other funders, will address the needs of low-income children and youth from "cradle to career" in the Greater Cincinnati-area though investments in early education, mentoring and literacy programs, college access, career pathways and other innovations.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service:

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

SOURCE Corporation for National and Community Service