Social Innovation Fund

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a new program of the Obama administration, housed in the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Funded at an initial level of $50 million in FY 2010, the Social Innovation Fund aims to work with intermediaries to provide funding to support nonprofit innovation and social enterprise.

In the first round of the program, the Social Innovation Fund is asking for applicants to focus on the following three areas:

        • Economic Opportunity - Increasing economic opportunities for economically disadvantaged individuals.
        • Youth Development and School Support - Preparing America's youth for success in school, active citizenship, productive work, and healthy and safe lives.
        • Healthy Futures - Promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing the risk factors that can lead to illness.

The funding process of SIF ensures that there is $3 of funding for each dollar in government spending. Because the overwhelming majority of SIF funds are awarded to intermediary grant-making institutions (the law does allow for up to 10 percent of funds to go directly to community groups), there are two levels of "match" requirements. First, the intermediary receiving a SIF grant must match funds received from CNCS on a one-to-one basis. Then, the nonprofit organizations receiving SIF funds through the intermediary are also required to match the government funds on a one-to-one basis.

Initial grants from CNCS are expected to range from $1 to $10 million. The process to receive a grant is competitive, peer-reviewed, and favors nonprofit organizations that focus on specific geographic regions or key issues within a given region. A nonprofit that seeks to apply for a grant through SIF should check the SIF website in the fall for a Notice of Funding Opportunity. Grants are typically made in the spring of the following year. Funds for the SIF must be appropriated each fiscal year.