Funds & Freebies

US Social Innovation Fund: $1 to $5 million

Funds & Freebies
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The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) released a Notice of Federal Funding Availability (NOFA) today for the 2012 grant competition of the Social Innovation Fund. The deadline for applications will be 5:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Successful applicants will receive grants of between $1 and $5 million per year for up to 5 years. “As we enter the third year of the Social Innovation Fund, CNCS remains committed to supporting highly qualified, experienced funders to support and grow promising nonprofits making an impact in their communities,” said Robert Velasco II, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “These funds enable grantmakers to accelerate the impact of their programs and play a key role in a national effort to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the public and nonprofit sectors.” The Social Innovation Fund represents a distinctive role for the federal government, that of a catalyst for change. Through an innovative public-private partnership, the Social Innovation Fund and selected local and national grantmakers mobilize funds to grow and validate community-based solutions in three priority areas: youth development, economic opportunity and healthy futures. In the past two years, the Social Innovation Fund has awarded $95 million to 16 grantmaking intermediaries. These grantees have strong track records of identifying and growing high-performing nonprofit organizations and represent the diversity of the social sector. They include large national funders like the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, New Profit and LISC and more targeted geography-based grantmakers like Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, REDF and Mile High United Way. And they are addressing a wide array of issues from workforce development to homelessness literacy, obesity, and college readiness. Through open competitions conducted across the U.S., grantees have to date selected nearly 150 promising nonprofits with evidence-based solutions to critical social challenges. Examples of these solutions include the following:
  • WorkAdvance boosts the earnings of unemployed and low-wage working adults by helping them prepare for and enter quality jobs in targeted industries with opportunities for career growth;
  • Gateway to College National Network builds the capacity of colleges, school districts and states to revolutionize education for high school dropouts and underprepared college students so that all young people can achieve academic credentials; and
  • St. Joseph Health System provides access to primary care and medical specialists in rural areas by operating two virtual primary care delivery clinics.
Federal funding has yielded $250 million in private and non-federal commitments to support these innovative solutions. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, CNCS plans to award approximately $10-15 million in grants to up to six grantmaking intermediaries. Each award will range from $1 – $5 million and will be matched dollar for dollar by the intermediary. Subsequent awards by the intermediaries to their selected subgrantees will also be matched 1:1, yielding up to $3 in private funding for every $1 in federal funding committed to this program. Social Innovation Fund grantees also receive significant technical assistance from CNCS to support implementation and rigorous evaluation of their programs. Participation in the Social Innovation Fund gives grantmakers greater access to a national network of funders and nonprofits that are committed to investing in results-oriented solutions to improve lives in low-income communities. Successful intermediary applicants will have the following characteristics:
  • A strong track record of using rigorous evidence to select, invest in, support, and monitor the growth of programs with the potential to achieve strong impact;
  • The capacity to conduct an open, competitive process for selecting innovative nonprofit community organizations with effective and potentially transformative approaches;
  • Expertise in one or more priority issue areas; and
  • Deep and broad relationships with stakeholders in one or more priority issue areas and/or specific geographic regions.
Please consult the CNCS website to read or download a copy of the NOFA, which provides complete information about this grant competition, including instructions for how to apply. The website also contains information on other resources CNCS will make available to potential applicants, including technical assistance calls, two webinars and access to proposals and application executive summaries from the 2011 competition. Please note that the initial technical assistance call will be held on February 16, 2012, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The call can be accessed at 800-369-3150 (Passcode: 6611919). Applicants must apply using the Corporation’s eGrants system. The eGrants Web site is:


About the Corporation for National and Community Service The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and the Social Innovation Fund, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, . For more information, visit

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