Social Innovation Fund Grantee Convening — Day 2

Social Innovation Fund Grantee Convening — Day 2

New Social Innovation Fund grantees innovate, inspire, and impact lives

It’s been a really interesting day in DC at the Social Innovation Fund Grantee Convening! Today we were able to meet other grantees from 2010 -2015. The CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Wendy Spencer, spoke in the opening plenary about the first five years of the Social Innovation Fund. Some interesting facts:

  • The Social Innovation Fund’s has invested $241 million in federal grants, which have been matched by $516 million in non-federal funds. So the federal investment has been doubled again by the private and public sectors to bring programs to our most vulnerable citizens.
  • These programs work and research proves it! For example, one program that is just coming to the end of their first 5 year SIF grant is REDF, which creates job opportunities for people who face the greatest barriers to employment, such as homelessness, or having been in prison. Through their SIF grant, an independent evaluator tested the impact of the program and found that:
    • the income of people employed through the programs increased 268%
    • income from government benefits dropped from 71% to 24%
    • housing stability tripled
    • for every $1 spent on the program, there was a return of $2.23

These are really impressive facts that demonstrate that the investment of SIF dollars is bringing solid returns. Then we met another impressive group of people, the 2015 SIF grantees. There were only 8 SIF grants awarded this year. As you are probably aware by now, United Way of Lane County’s KITS Social Innovation Fund was one of them. UWLC was the only United Way in the nation to receive one of these awards this year. And it is the first Social Innovation Fund grant to be awarded to an Oregon agency.

We have some distinguished company in the 2015 cohort. We will meet 4 of them here and the remaining 3 in the next post.

Congratulations to all of our fellow grantees!

For all the facts and figures, there is always a story that helps to illustrate how important this work is.
Wendy Spencer spoke about visiting the REDF program in Los Angeles where she met a man in his 40s who had never had stable employment in his adult life before he began the REDF program. This had led to homelessness and a number of other problems. Through the program, he had obtained employment stability and housing. That is an immense difference in the life of one individual. When you begin to think about that kind of difference multiplied across 300,000 lives, you grasp the enormous transformational power of the Social Innovation Fund. It is truly an honor to be part of this wonderful work!

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.