The Corporation for National and Community Service today announced that 11 organizations have been selected to receive $50 million in Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grants. SIF is intended to support innovative solutions to social problems and leverage private investment, by investing federal funds in non-profit intermediary organizations who will in turn identify and invest in the work of entrepreneurial organizations working to address social problems. Three of the 11 SIF grantees will focus on youth services and education:
- New Profit, Inc. received a $5 million, 1 year grant to partner with 5 to 6 youth-focused organizations to help some 8,000 at-risk youth negotiate the pathway to college and careers.
- Edna McConnell Clark Foundation received a $10 million, 1 year grant to help scale up the reach and impact of up to 10 youth development organizations.
- Venture Philanthropy Partners, Inc. receive a $4 million, 2 year grant to build a network of non-profit organizations addressing the employment and educational needs of at-risk 14-24 year olds in the Washington, D.C., region.
Although not a grantee, two other winners here are College Summit and Year Up, which as a "pre-selected partners" in both the New Profit and Venture Philanthropy Partners projects will receive funding from both grants. Other partners in the Venture Philanthropy Partners Grant include KIPP DC and the Latin American Youth Center.
I'm a little surprised that all three of the education SIF winners seem to focus primarily on older youth, with a heavy youth development and workforce preparation component here. There's a real need for better educational and employment services for older youth, particularly those who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school. But we also know that the pathway to poor youth outcomes starts early, and that preventing programs with early intervention can be a lot more cost-effective than addressing them later. And there are lots of opportunities and needs for innovation in the early childhood and elementary spaces. So I'm a little disappointed that no projects seeking to serve younger children made the cut for SIF.