Tag: Social Innovation Fund

Government + Philanthropy + Nonprofits = Social Innovation

By Tamara Copeland, President

The often contentious relationship between the President and Congress seems to have found a solid place of coexistence in support of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a public-private partnership that takes community-based solutions to scale. Launched by President Obama less than five years ago, Congress increased its allocation to SIF this year by 40 percent, raising its budget to $70 million. In an era of budget slashing, I don’t need to tell you that that is no small feat.

While the government investment is important and significant, one of the key elements of the program is the 1:1 match of government funds with private investment. SIF grants funds to what are called intermediary organizations, typically foundations, which then raise the matching funds from other foundations and donors to invest in local nonprofit organizations.

Last week, Michael Smith, Director of the Social Innovation Fund, joined a group of WRAG CEOs to discuss the Fund.

Since its establishment in 2010, 20 intermediary organizations across the country have supported 218 nonprofit organizations whose work has benefitted over 200,000 people. In our own backyard, Venture Philanthropy Partners is an intermediary working with six local nonprofits to provide education and employment services to 20,000 low-income youth in our region through their youthCONNECT initiative.

With an investment of $1 million to $10 million per intermediary, the Social Innovation Fund is a powerful means of taking evidenced-based solutions to scale. But, as several of the WRAG CEO attendees noted, coming up with that match can be hard for many communities, including the Greater Washington region. Michael Smith agreed that the 1:1 match model may not work for every community. As SIF continues to grow, perhaps this conversation will be the seed of an innovation for the Social Innovation Fund. We’ll see.

For more info about SIF (which just announced its latest grant competition), check out this fact sheet and read Michael’s recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Innovation to Impact: Obama’s Social Innovation Fund at Four.”


Michael Smith announced that this year, the Social Innovation Fund will utilize $14 million to explore pay-for-success models, or what are sometimes referred to as “social impact bonds.” This strategy will be the topic of the next CEO Coffee & Conversation on March 25. More information is available here.

Will the new SAT improve access to college?

EDUCATION
– In effort to break the correlation between SAT scores and family income, the College Board is once again revising the exam. It will also begin offering free test prep courses online through a partnership with Khan Academy. (WaPo, 3/6)

Whether the College Board can break the link between test scores and economic class is the subject of much debate.

“There’s no reason to think that fiddling with the test is in any way going to increase its fairness,” said Joseph A. Soares, a Wake Forest University sociologist. He said high school grades are a far better measure of college potential. Tests, he argued, needlessly screen out disadvantaged students.

Argelia Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the D.C. College Access Program, which provides college counseling in public high schools, said the College Board was taking a “step in the right direction” by promoting a test that might be less intimidating. But she said financial aid and other issues are far more important to low-income families. “There’s a lot more to access than just test-taking,” she said.

Loudoun moves to open N. Virginia’s first charter school (WaPo, 3/6)

HEALTH/AGING | A new study suggests that the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s has been significantly underestimated and ranks it as the third leading cause of death (WaPo, 3/6):

More than 5 million people in the United States are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. With the aging of the baby-boom generation, this number is expected to nearly triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The disease cost the nation $210 billion last year; that rate is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

COMMUNITY | On the foundation’s blog, Yanique Redwood of the Consumer Health Foundation (and a WRAG board member) writes about an encounter on an airplane that highlighted the short cuts that the “unconscious brain” sometimes takes that lead people toward biased ideas. (CHF, 3/4)

Related: Back in December, Dr. Gail Christopher from the Kellogg Foundation spoke to WRAG members about the societal impacts of unconscious bias. (Daily, 12/20)

WRAG | Sara Gallagher, a graduate student at UMD, writes about what she learned serving as a Philanthropy Fellow at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Calvert Foundation. (Daily, 3/6)

Related: The Philanthropy Fellows Program is a service to WRAG members that connects them with talented fellows studying philanthropy and nonprofit management at UMD. We’re accepting fellowship position descriptions from WRAG members now. More information is available here.

TRANSIT | The cost of building the Purple Line has nearly doubled to $2.37 billion since the initial estimate. (WaPo, 3/6)

HOUSING | DC’s mayoral candidates voice ideas for affordable housing (GGW, 3/5)

WORKFORCE | After Lively Debate, Maryland House Approves Minimum Wage Hike To $10.10 (WAMU, 3/6)

PHILANTHROPY | The Social Innovation Fund has announced a fourth funding competition, this time prioritizing applications targeting opportunity youth, vulnerable populations, and collective impact approaches. More information is available here.

NONPROFITS | IRS hit from all political stripes on nonprofit rules (Politico, 3/3)

DISTRICT | On March 21, there will be a mayoral candidate forum on sustainability, clean water, and environmental health. More information is available here.


Who knew people in D.C. were so happy…and so into dancing in public!

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!

-Rebekah

DCPS announces new career ladder for top teachers…The possible future of the 11th Street Bridge…Don’t miss CFNCR’s Invest2Compete event on September 13 [News, 9.5.12]

EDUCATION
– The Post has an interesting Q & A with the public school chiefs of D.C., Alexandria, and Montgomery, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties about how they approach teacher evaluation and training, class sizes, and other issues in their respective districts. (WaPo, 9/2)

– D.C. Public Schools announced a new program yesterday that will allow high performing teachers in high poverty schools to receive salary raises at a much faster rate. The goal is to attract quality teachers and reduce turnover. (WaPo, 9/5)

Northern Virginia schools open; surging enrollment projected (WaPo, 9/5)

ARTS | The Old Town Theater in Alexandria, which was going to be redeveloped into retail shops, will remain a theater and reopen in November. (WAMU, 9/3)

DISTRICT | Here’s a look at the effort to redevelop the 11th Street Bridge in southeast D.C. as a park that would link Navy Yard with Anacostia. (WAMU, 9/4) Needless to say, this would be very, very cool.

PHILANTHROPY
– Paul Carttar, the head of the Social Innovation Fund, will be leaving his post at the end of September. (Chronicle, 9/4)

– Opinion: Foundations Are Wise to Offer Grants and Management Coaching (Chronicle, 8/19)

COMMUNITY | Nicky Goren, of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, reflects on her experience watching the women athletes at the 2012 Olympics. (WAWF, 8/3)

EVENT | To unveil their new report, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and the Greater Washington Board of Trade’s Invest2Compete Initiative is hosting a briefing and panel discussion on how area employers are supporting their workers through tuition assistance programs, and why these programs are critical for our region. More information will be available soon on www.cfncr.org.

When: September 13, 8:30am – 10:30am | Where: The University Club, 1135 16th Street NW| RSVP to bmurphy@cfncr.org. 


Cutest. Animal attack. Ever.

-Rebekah