National Service

Highlights from a Funders Call on the Social Innovation Fund

Last month, the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation), the federal agency that manages AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and Senior Corps, released its draft Notice on Funds Available (NOFA) for the $50M the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The Corporation is accepting comments until January 15.

Earlier this week, three affinity groups of the Council on Foundations – Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce, Grantmakers In Health, and Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families – hosted a funders discussion on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF).* The call included Steve Gunderson, President and CEO, Council on Foundations, Michele Jolin, Senior Advisor, Social Innovation, Domestic Policy Council at the White House, and Marta Urquilla, Senior Advisor for Social Innovation, Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation). The audio of the conference call will be posted, although I have yet to see it on the Corporation’s website. Until then, and with the hopes that it might generate additional comments on the draft Notice of Funds Available for the SIF, here are a few points from the call.

A Communitiy Foundation Perspective on the Social Innovation Fund

Last month, the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation), the federal agency that manages AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and Senior Corps, released its draft Notice on Funds Available (NOFA) for the $50M the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The Corporation is accepting comments until January 15.

In my most recent post about the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), I commented that the cash match requirement at the minimum grant award level might prevent most community foundations from participating in the program. Today’s guest post on the Tactical Philanthropy blog by Eileen Ellsworth, president of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, greatly expands on this issue and illustrates how the new minimum grant award level and one-to-one cash match requirement will prevent her community foundation from participating. Specifically, she writes, "the increase in the minimum grant level from $1 million to $5 million now constitutes an insurmountable barrier for our SIF application....raising the minimum grant level to $5 million will prevent all but a tiny handful of very large foundations from applying." This issue is further reinforced by the Council on Foundation in a short commentary published today.  The Council notes that some foundations “have expressed concerns about the match requirements for the minimum grant threshold of $5 million…and the difficulty that small communities may experience in trying to take advantage of this program.”

A few questions on the Social Innovation Fund

Yesterday, the Corporation for National and Community Service held a conference call on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The conference call was revealing in the information it provided. However, many significant challenges and questions remained unaddressed and could potentially derail the effectiveness of the SIF.