Federal Innovation Fund Awards $46-Million in New Grants

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The Chronicle of Philanthropy
By: Suzanne Perry
August 4, 2011

The Social Innovation Fund, a federal program to help expand effective social projects, has awarded more than $46-million to 14 groups in its second round of annual grants, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced today.

The money, which goes to grant makers that in turn award it to innovative nonprofits, is divided between newcomers and groups that won money last year.

The fund provided a total of $13.9-million--or between $2-million and $4-million each over two years--to five new groups:

• Corporation for Supportive Housing, in New York, to expand projects in four cities that combine health, housing, and social services to help homeless people.

• Mile High United Way, in Denver, to use volunteers to improve literacy rates of third graders in 15 Colorado cities and towns.

• NCB Capital Impact, in Arlington, Va., to help organizations in up to 10 cities provide long-term housing to low-income families.

• U.S. Soccer Foundation, in Washington, to expand to 12 cities an after-school sports-based program to reduce childhood obesity.

• United Way for Southeastern Michigan, in Detroit, to create early-learning programs in 10 communities in the Detroit area.

Those winners were chosen from among 18 applicants that met the qualifications to participate in the competition for funds.

The program also awarded $32.5-million to help nine of the 11 organizations that won social-innovation money last year continue their work--including AIDS United, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and New Profit.

The corporation said the nine groups have given money to 140 nonprofits and made significant progress toward Social Innovation Fund goals, including developing "rigorous" programs for evaluating results.

Both the grant makers and their grantees are required to match their awards with private money.

The Social Innovation Fund won $50-million in the 2011 federal budget (minus a 0.2-percent cut that Congress applied to all programs). It will spend $3.5-million on research, evaluation, and other administrative costs.

The national-service agency will release the names of the people who reviewed the social-innovation applications, as well as their comments, within 90 days, said Ranit Schmelzer, an agency spokeswoman. The corporation came under fire last year for initially withholding information about how the grants were awarded.

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