A review of the Social Innovation Fund’s eight winning pay-for-success grant applications, now publicly available for the first time, reveals that the field is experiencing strong growth and seems likely to continue this growth over the next few years.
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a relatively small program, housed within the Corporation for National and Community Service, and it constitutes a tiny fraction of overall federal funding of social services. Moreover, its $12 million in pay-for-success grants represents just a small fraction of SIF’s funding.
However, because these grants are tightly focused on conducting feasibility assessments, developing new pay-for-success agreements, and related technical assistance, SIF appears to be playing a substantial catalytic role. SIF’s claim that its $12 million investment will generate nearly 100 new project sub-grants, which itself would represent a significant jump in the number of projects nationwide, appears to be validated by this independent review of the applications.
Moreover, the applications reveal other activities, some of which are taking place independent of SIF’s involvement, including the following:
- Growing Client Pipelines for the Major Pay-for-Success Intermediaries: Major incumbent organizations involved in pay-for-success initiatives nationwide — such as Third Sector Capital Partners and the Harvard Kennedy School SIB Lab — are developing deeper knowledge bases and growing their client pipelines;
- Newer, More Specialized Intermediaries: New intermediaries are emerging with substantial expertise and contacts in specific fields, such as asthma prevention, early childhood programs, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health services, and supportive housing;
- New Investors: New potential sources of outside investment are emerging, including Community Development Financial Institutions, United Ways and other community-based funders, and managed care organizations; and
- Increased Involvement by Associations of States and Local Governments: Organizations like the National Governor’s Association, National Association of Counties, and National League of Cities are becoming increasingly engaged.
This report reviews these overall trends, as well as common elements and highlights from the individual applications. Links to the complete application narratives, which contain additional information, are included in the individual grant profiles.