The Social Innovation Fund, a federal program to pump millions of private and public dollars into projects that are effectively tackling pressing social problems, awarded its first round of grants today, totaling nearly $50-million. Among the biggest winners: job-training and workforce-development programs.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which operates the Social Innovation Fund, announced 11 grants—ranging in size from $2-million to $10-million each—to intermediary organizations, which will in turn award money to nonprofit groups working in the areas of economic opportunity, youth development, and healthy habits. Both the grant makers and the nonprofit groups are required to provide matching funds, which so far total $74-million and are expected to exceed $150-million.
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, in New York, received the largest grant, $10-million over one year, which it will distribute to up to 10 youth-development organizations in urban and rural areas in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and other states yet to be determined. The grants will be aimed at 9- to 24-year-olds, to improve their academic skills, work-force readiness, and prospects for avoiding high-risk behaviors, such as criminal activity.
Jobs for the Future and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions together received the next biggest grant, $7.7-million over two years, to provide job training and technical assistance to an additional 23,000 low-income people over three years. Money from the grant will also be used to help more than 1,000 employers in high-growth industries assess what skills they need as well as job and career opportunities.
The other grant recipients: Local Initiatives Support Corporation ($4.2 million; one year); the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City ($5.7 million; one year); REDF ($3 million; two years); the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky ($2 million; two years); the Missouri Foundation for Health ($2 million; two years); the National AIDS Fund ($3.6 million; one year); New Profit ($5 million; one year); Venture Philanthropy Partners ($4 million; two years); and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati ($2 million; two years).
Patrick Corvington, the Corporation for National and Community Service’s chief executive, says the winners were chosen because of their “proven track record to source innovation.” Only three of the intermediaries had preselected some of the nonprofit groups to receive the funds. As for the rest, he says, “we expect to see some programs throughout communities that we’ve never heard of.”
The Social Innovation Fund has generated additional money from private donors, including: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, John and Ann Doerr’s family foundation, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Institute’s Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, and the Skoll Foundation.
Mr. Corvington says that the White House is asking for $60-million in federal funds for the program in 2011. If the money is secured, he says, another round of grants can be expected.