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The Social Innovation Fund

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.

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.

A few questions on the Social Innovation Fund

Yesterday, the Corporation for National and Community Service held a conference call on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The conference call was revealing in the information it provided. However, many significant challenges and questions remained unaddressed and could potentially derail the effectiveness of the SIF.