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Social Innovation Fund

Social Innovation Fund

The Social Innovation Fund is a federal initiative that enlists private intermediaries to help expand evidence-based programs promoting economic opportunity, healthy lives, and youth development. As the fund's largest intermediary, EMCF has helped 12 grantees reach an estimated 110,000 additional young people.

The role of an intermediary is to identify outstanding programs and award to them grants consisting of federal funds matched by the intermediary's. (For more information, see the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the Social Innovation Fund.)

EMCF matched $30 million from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) with $30 million from our own endowment and, through the True North Fund, helped the 12 grantees secure the $60 million they were required by statute to raise to match this funding.

Using Evidence to Scale What Works: 2015 State of the SIF Report provides an overview and update on the initiative. 


We believe the Social Innovation Fund has the potential to become a catalyst for scaling "what works” by encouraging the public and private sectors to direct more resources to the most effective solutions to some of our nation’s seemingly intractable social problems.

Our SIF grants were designed to build the evidence base and organizational capacity of a select cadre of nonprofits so they could:

  1. Significantly increase the numbers of youth served by effective programs, and
  2. Substantially advance the evidence of their effectiveness with rigorous evaluations.

For examples of the accomplishments of SIF grantees, see Stories of Impact.


EMCF conducted national competitions to select 12 nonprofits to receive EMCF SIF awards. The competitions drew hundreds of applicants from across the country.

To learn how the first nine grantees were selected in 2011, see A Summary of EMCF's 2010-2011 Selection of SIF Grantees

To learn how the final three grantees were selected in 2013, see 2012-2013 Grants Competition Selection Process Report.


Every dollar from the SIF directly benefited grantees, supporting infrastructure development, capacity building and evaluation. We covered all administrative costs for EMCF and for our strategic collaborators in the SIF, MDRC and the Bridgespan Group, as well as the costs of Bridgespan’s planning and capacity-building support to grantees.

EMCF’s work with the SIF, which will be completed in 2017, has been in addition to our normal grantmaking activity. The grants we made with the $30 million awarded by the SIF and our own $30 million in matching funds were over and above the grantmaking we do to meet the payout of 5 percent of endowment that private foundations are required to make yearly.