The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), an initiative enacted under the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, targets millions of dollars in public-private funds to expand effective solutions across three issue areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development and school support. This work seeks to create a catalog of proven approaches that can be replicated in communities across the country. The SIF leverages a 3:1 private-public match, sets a high standard for evidence, empowers communities to identify and drive solutions to address social problems, and creates an incentive for grantmaking organizations to more effectively target funding to promising programs. Administered by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, the SIF is part of the government’s broader agenda to redefine how evidence, innovation, service, and public-private cooperation can be used to tackle urgent social challenges.
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, in strategic collaboration with MDRC and The Bridgespan Group, is leading a SIF project that aims to expand the pool of organizations with proven programs that can help low-income young people make the transition to productive adulthood. The project is particularly focused on those young people who are at greatest risk of failing or dropping out of school or of not finding work, are involved or likely to become involved in the foster care or juvenile justice system, and/or are engaging in risky behavior such as criminal activity or teenage pregnancy. MDRC is also participating in a second SIF grant with the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC.
The EMCF Social Innovation Fund initiative, called the True North Fund, has selected nine programs to receive SIF grants: BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), Center for Employment Opportunities, Children’s Aid Society-Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, Children’s Institute, Inc., Communities In Schools, Gateway to College Network, Reading Partners, and The Seed Foundation.