Nearly six years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the first philanthropic commitments to match dollars from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a then brand-new initiative the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to tackle seemingly intractable social problems.
She said, "If we are going to transform lives and lift up communities, then we are going to need good ideas and successful programs in every single corner of the country. That's why last year we started the Social Innovation Fund.”
The SIF is different than traditional government programs. As a program of CNCS, it places federal funds in the hands of experienced grantmakers close to the ground. They in turn work with nonprofits and governments to make the real magic happen. They find innovative and evidence-based programs to fund and spur community investment in these programs to bring the public, private, and nonprofit sectors together. Over the last two years, the SIF has also played an essential, catalytic role in developing the national pipeline of Pay for Success projects to test innovative programs and scale evidence-based ones.
Recently, the Administration convened academics, thought leaders, service providers, and foundations to assess how far we’ve come in fulfilling that vision and to imagine how we can drive more impact in the years to come.
We are proud of what the SIF has accomplished to date. As just a few examples:
* Through the SIF, nearly $900 million has been provided in federal and private funds to advance evidence-based solutions to social challenges.
* Nearly 630,000 people have been served.
* 89 rigorous evaluations are in place.
* 42 Pay for Success projects are developing in the pipeline.
But SIF isn’t resting on its laurels. With so many demands for federal dollars, we need to ensure that the SIF is nimbly meeting the needs of 2016 and beyond, embodying ourselves the very innovation and effectiveness we catalyze across the country.
To that end, we asked stakeholders:
* What value add can the SIF provide?
* What partnerships will be key?
* What would success look like in 2021?
Informed by this conversation, we will produce a blueprint plan for SIF’s years to come.
Meanwhile, through SIF, CNCS is moving full steam ahead in equipping communities to improve the lives of people in need. While we have made tremendous progress, there is still more urgent work to be done. More veterans who need jobs. More families who need an affordable roof over their heads. More kids who need help learning to read. The need goes on, and so does our commitment to find better, more effective solutions that provide measurably stronger impact, more efficiently, for more people.
So I’m pleased to announce up to $39 million in new federal funds available through the SIF “Classic” program. Grantmakers in communities may apply for funds to award to nonprofits ready to provide services that have a track record of success. For this round, CNCS will prioritize grantmakers proposing to focus a SIF grant on early education, juvenile justice, and technology. Applications are due on May 10, 2016.
Together, in 2016 and beyond, I’m confident we will continue to find what works and help it work for more people.