The moment that we have been waiting for is here. This week, the Corporation for National and Community Service released a draft Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) for public comment. As I have mentioned before, this should be seen as a good step toward building a broader social innovation agenda – but not as the whole story. You can find the draft NOFA here.
I wanted to share some quick observations, and will offer more thoughts in the near future. My initial reactions:
- The Corporation and the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation did an incredible job gathering viewpoints from so many different people and perspectives. It is clear that a great deal of thought was put into this document.
- The awards are stated to be “in the approximate amounts of $5 million to $10 million to approximately five to seven intermediary organizations.” Because of the size of the awards, the one to one cash match, and the limited number of recipients, fewer organizations will be eligible to apply to the Fund than many had hoped for. While this may be a disappointment to some, it does show a commitment to demonstrating to Congress and the country that success the first time out of the gate is a priority (and is more likely given the limited number of awards) − and in the long run, hopefully this will allow for growth of this and similar programs in the future. This was, I am sure, a tough decision, but in the end seems like the right one.
- Lastly, it appears that the Fund will promote a very thoughtful, rigorous, and most importantly, innovative approach to government investment in promising nonprofit solutions that will serve as an excellent resource for other government agencies to learn from. This is, I believe, one of the most important aspects of the Fund as we look to it to catalyze and spread this kind of thinking throughout city, state and federal levels of government.
Please note, the public comment period closes on January 15th!
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