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April 20, 2016

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The following post was written by Nicole Truhe, Director of Government Affairs at America Forward.

In this fourth of five blog posts in our series on the Federal Budget and Appropriations process, we will continue with a deeper dive into a specific program that is a priority for America Forward and our Coalition members. The first three blog posts in the series provided high-level overviews of both the Federal budget and appropriations process and America Forward’s funding priorities as well as a specific overview of the broad evidence and innovation funding priorities that we think are important for Congress to support. In today’s post, we will focus on a particularly important and significant program to America Forward and our members, the Social Innovation Fund.


The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is an innovative program that awards grants to and works with existing grant-making institutions to direct resources to innovative community-based nonprofit organizations. The purpose of the SIF is to improve the lives of people in low-income communities by increasing the impact and scale of these innovative community-based organizations and approaches in the areas of youth development, economic opportunity, and healthy futures. In addition to growing promising community-based solutions, SIF funding has served as a vital catalyst to testing and growing the use of Pay for Success—a new approach for government to fund proven community-based solutions.


The significant emphasis on using evidence of program impact, a funding model that utilizes public funding to leverage private dollars, and the focus on innovative community-based solutions are elements that make SIF a unique federal program and one that has realized significant results in only a few years. Namely, through these grants upwards of half a million individuals have been served in low-income communities across the country. And the evaluations of these SIF programs, that have been completed to date, have found positive effects in the areas of workforce training, employment services, personal (income) savings, reading education, and childhood health. 


At America Forward, we believe that innovation and evidence are needed in order to more effectively address our country’s most pressing social problems. It is an unfortunate reality that SIF and other innovation funds that provide the resources to scale innovative solutions and evaluate programs have historically been at risk for being deeply cut or eliminated altogether during previous Congressional appropriations efforts. As a result, the Social Innovation Fund is one of America Forward’s key funding priorities for FY17.


The specific request below reflects this need to prioritize the Social Innovation Fund and the specific funding levels required to ensure the impact of the program continues to be realized in the FY17 federal budget.


Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Corporation for National and Community Service

  • 70 million for the Social Innovation Fund to test promising new approaches to major social challenges and to expand evidence-based programs that demonstrate measurable outcomes. This includes the allowable use of up to 20 percent of funds for Pay for Success projects.

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