The Obama administration created a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) in 2009 that launched yearly competitions since 2010 to award grantmaking intermediaries with grant funding.
The 2014 competition, which was officially announced this week, will provide up to $65.8 million to grantmakers. The administration calls this the largest grant pool in the history of the program.
The SIF competition finds eligible nonprofit grantmaking institutions wanting to grow innovative, evidence-based solutions to challenges facing low-income communities nationwide.
“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 federal agency that runs the SIF program.
“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.”
Selected grantmakers will be awarded $1 million to $10 million per year for 3 to 5 years. A requirement for the grantees is that each federal dollar granted must be matched 1:1 using money from private and other non-federal sources. At least 80 percent of awarded federal funds must be committed to subgrantees, who will also need to match their grants 1:1, producing up to $3 in funding for every $1 in federal funding committed.
Unlike previous years, the 2014 SIF competition will prioritize 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, as well as key Presidential priorities designed to expand opportunity for low-income individuals and distressed communities, such as Promise Zones.
In addition, the competition will give precedence to applicants who plan to use the “Collective Impact” approach of problem solving: business, government, and nonprofits working together to identify common challenges and effective solutions, which may sound like a Pay for Success or Social Impact Bond model. In fact, the SIF was given the go-ahead to use up to $14 million (20 percent of $70 million appropriated for the SIF in 2014) to implement a pilot program to advance Pay for Success approaches. Details on the goals and tactics of the pilot are under development.
According to their website, there are currently 20 intermediaries and 217 nonprofits participating in the SIF grant competition resulting in $177.6 million in federal grants made and more than $423 million in non-federal match commitments.
The deadline for this year’s applications will be 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.
Social Enterprise Buzz is a media company dedicated to covering social enterprise news from around the world. We publish a range of stories from startups to entrepreneurship, innovation, and finance, which showcase business making the world a better place. Read more.