Adin Miller's blog

Transparency Lessons the Social Innovation Fund Should Learn from the Investing in Innovation Fund

Yesterday’s the U.S. Department of Education’s announced the selection of “49 school districts, nonprofit education organizations and institutions of higher education” as Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) finalists. Selected out of pool of nearly 1,700 applicants, the finalists have until September 8 to secure match commitments for up to 20% in order to receive actual funding. While also releasing the names of the finalists, the Department of Education also released a treasure-trove of information in an amazing step in transparency.

The Department of Education’s approach to transparency contrasts sharply with the Corporation for National and Community Service’s approach to the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The calls for transparency have been out for some time (both Sean Stannard-Stockton and I wrote about this in April – here, here, and here.) and were significantly heightened by the Nonprofit Quarterly this week. The information released by the Department of Education yesterday highlights the different transparency approaches applied by the two federal agencies.

SOCAP10: Scaling Social Impact

In June I had the pleasure of both attending and blogging the inaugural the Social Impact Exchange Conference hosted by the Growth Philanthropy Network, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Duke University’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (CSPCS), and the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE).  The conference primarily focused on the challenges of scaling innovative high-impact nonprofit social enterprises. Much of that revolved around access to capital to grow social enterprises to scale. That discussion will continue at SOCAP10, October 4 – 6 in San Francisco.

The blending of philanthropy and social capital markets will be at the core of the Tactical Philanthropy track at SOCAP10. The preliminary agenda has just been released for the conference. One panel that immediately caught my attention focuses on Scaling Social Impact. It’s a great continuation of the discussion from the Social Impact Exchange and will be led by Steve Goldberg, author of Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets, who I had the chance to hear at one of the breakout sessions.

Where's the Capital Market for the Social Innovation Fund?

One of the interesting comments I received on my Social Innovation Fund (SIF) posts came from Steve Goldberg, who participated in the proposal review process. He writes, “by selecting the best intermediary proposals irrespective of extraneous considerations like geography and social issue, the SIF fosters a more coherent and intelligent nonprofit capital market.” I tend to agree with Steve’s statement and don’t believe I called into question the geographic or priority issue distribution. My post earlier this week focused more on noting the absence of innovation and health-focused funding – a theme that echoed results from the recent Social Impact Exchange conference – and the current distribution of SIF subgrantee funding in the northeast.

Steve’s second point about fostering a more coherent and intelligent nonprofit capital market is true. But here, I think that’s the case only to a limited degree. The way the SIF has been established and managed has resulted in a list of both intermediaries and subgrantees (which will expand as more are identified) that warrant additional growth capital and investments.

Analysis of Social Innovation Fund Results

The Corporation for National and Community Service’s announcement of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) results last week left me feeling mixed. Frankly, I expected more. Nevertheless, I congratulate the eleven intermediaries on their successful proposals.

The National Service Strategic Plan

Building off my last post on the Corporation for National and Community Service, I want to highlight the agency's current efforts to solicit input for its 2011-2015 Strategic Plan.

What will the national service moment look like?

"This is our moment – what we have worked for, over the years has brought us to this moment.”
 – Patrick Corvington, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service (June 29, 2010)

 

The CEO transition between David Eisner and Corvington created a large outflow of key personnel and required a temporary management team composed primarily of long-standing Corporation employees in acting positions who ran the agency for 15 months (many more months than initially anticipated). That team, led by acting CEO Nicola Goren (now president at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation), pushed for the Corporation's reauthorization through the Serve America Act, received and allocated $200 million in Recovery Act funding, and expanded the agency's budget and scope.

The 2009-2010 Social Impact Business Plan Competition Winners: Rubicon Emerge and the Parent-Child Home Program

This post is part of a series of posts generated through a collaboration with Geri Stengel of Ventureneer to provide a one-stop resource for insights and news from the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact, held June 17 - 18, 2010.

The Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact ended with the selection of 2009-10 Business Plan Competition winners. Eight organizations competed in the final round and were grouped in two categories: early-stage and mezzanine-stage. The early-stage finalists – organizations that have a strategy for scaling their social impact and whose initiatives are in the early stage of growth – included Benetech, Higher Achievement, North Lawndale Employment Network, and Rubicon Emerge. The mezzanine-state finalists – organizations that have significant levels of success and demand for services from their target populations, and also have demonstrated positive outcomes and defined strategies for scaling social impact – include First Book, Grameen Foundation, the Parent-Child Home Program, and ROC USA, LLC.

Five Issues Raised During Day One of the Scaling Social Impact Conference

This post is part of a series of posts generated through a collaboration with Geri Stengel of Ventureneer to provide a one-stop resource for insights and news from the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact, held June 17 - 18, 2010.

As I take a brief moment to reflect on this morning’s discussion about the need for growth capital at the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact, I’m struck by five issues that I hope will be further discussed at the conference and after it concludes:

What to Expect from the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact

This post is part of a series of posts generated through a collaboration with Geri Stengel of Ventureneer to provide a one-stop resource for insights and news from the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact, held June 17 - 18, 2010.

 

I generally don’t get excited about attending conferences. The content often is reduced to a basic level to accommodate as many people in the room and the opportunities for substantial learning and networking are limited. That said I’m eager to participate this week in the inaugural Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Social Impact