Corporation for National and Community Service: Social Innovation Fund
The mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Through the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), CNCS has augmented its traditional activities with an enhanced focus on identifying and growing innovative, evidence-based approaches to the nation’s challenges. The Social Innovation Fund awards grants to and works with experienced grantmaking institutions. These recipients are funded to identify promising solutions to community problems, and to select high-performing community-based nonprofit organizations as subrecipients on a competitive basis. Funding will target grantmaking in three Focus Areas:
- Youth Development: Preparing children and youth for success in school, active citizenship, productive work, and healthy and safe lives, including crime reduction initiatives focused on juvenile delinquency and victimization prevention and response
- Economic Opportunity: Increasing economic opportunities and financial stability for economically disadvantaged individuals and families
- Healthy Futures: Improving health outcomes, promoting healthy lifestyles, and decreasing health disparities that disproportionately affect low-income communities
The SIF is driven by three core principles: 1) many of the most compelling solutions to persistent social problems in low-income communities are being developed in those communities and not in federal offices in Washington, DC; 2) significant impact can be generated for society by proactively identifying the best community-based solutions, strengthening their evidence base, and supporting the growth of their impact; and 3) the federal government can help drive social innovation by stimulating, focusing, and enhancing public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaborations to grow the impact of the best community solutions. The Social Innovation Fund seeks to support innovations that have advanced beyond the nascent stages, are showing signs of effectiveness, and have the potential for greater scale.
In addition to targeting one of the three focus areas above, applicants are encouraged to address one or more of the following priorities:
- Juvenile Justice: Strategies to improve outcomes for youth involved in, or at risk for involvement with, the juvenile justice system
- Technology: Strategies to utilize technology to increase the impact of the proposed evidence-based social programs
- Early Childhood Education: Strategies to expand access to high quality early learning education for children through age five that prepares them for lifelong success
There are two basic operational models of Social Innovation Fund projects:
- A “Geographically-Based Social Innovation Fund” serves low-income communities within a specific local geographic area and focuses on achieving measurable outcomes in one or more of the Social Innovation Fund’s issue areas
- An “Issue-Based Social Innovation Fund” serves low-income communities in multiple geographic locations and focuses on achieving measurable outcomes in one of the Social Innovation Fund’s issue areas
Amount: Approximately $30 million will be available. CNCS will make annual awards in the range of $1 million to $10 million per year for five years. Recipients award at least $100,000 annually to each subrecipeint that they found for three to four years. Each federal dollar granted by the Social Innovation Fund to the recipients must be matched one to one with cash from private and other non-federal sources. Similarly, grants from recipients to the subrecipients must separately be matched on the same one to one basis.
Recipients must run an open competition for subrecipient funds that is available to eligible nonprofit community organizations beyond their own existing grant portfolio or network.
Eligibility: Existing grantmaking institutions or eligible partnerships. A grantmaking institution is an organization in existence at the time of the application that invests in nonprofit community organizations or programs through grants as an essential rather than a collateral means of fulfilling its mission and vision. Note: Units of local government and universities are not considered grantmaking institutions but are able to serve as part of a partnership with an eligible grantmaking institution.
Social Innovation Fund recipient grantees must make subawards to community organizations that will replicate or expand proven initiative, or support new initiatives in low income communities. A low-income community is defined as either:
- A population of individuals or households being served by a subrecipient on the basis of having a household income that is 200 percent or less of the applicable federal poverty guideline, or
- Either a population of individuals or households, or a specific local geographic area, with specific measurable indicators that correlate to low-income status, such as, but not exclusive to, K-12 students qualifying for free or reduced-lunch, long-term unemployment, risk of homelessness, low school achievement, persistent hunger, or serious mental illness. An application that proposes to rely on measurable indicators should fully describe the basis for relying upon those indicators and describe and cite the source of data supporting the conclusion that the targeted community meets the indicator.
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