The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, signed by President Barack Obama on April 21, 2009, included a range of provisions to boost volunteerism and community service. In the process, it created two funds that address some of the issues raised in Promise 378.
The two funds -- the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Generation Fund -- are run by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal entity created in 1993 that is best known for running the AmeriCorps service program.
Generally, the Social Innovation Fund will provide funds to existing grantmaking organizations, which will, in turn, make grants to nonprofit groups that engage in philanthropic projects, including youth, antipoverty, health, conservation and crime-reduction efforts. At both the grantmakers' level and the nonprofit groups' level, the federal money has to be supplemented by funds from foundations or other private donors according to a predetermined formula.
The effort will "fund promising nonprofits that have demonstrated outcomes," the corporation says. "It will provide nonprofits with growth funding and other support to scale and spread their impact." Final guidelines are expected by the end of the year, with the first awards likely to be made in late spring or summer 2010, corporation officials told reporters in October.
The second fund, the Volunteer Generation Fund, is intended to improve how volunteer efforts are utilized. It would provide funds to "states and nonprofits to recruit, manage, and support volunteers and strengthen the nation"s volunteer infrastructure," the corporation says.
The president's budget included $50 million for the Social Innovation Fund and $10 million for the Volunteer Generation Fund. Those numbers are subject to approval of both chambers of Congress; already, the House has voted to cut the Social Innovation Fund to $35 million.
It's arguable whether these two funds constitute an "agency," as Obama promised he would create within the Corporation for National and Community Service. In addition, it's not clear how much these funds will work to streamline the process of obtaining federal grants and contracts, as the president promised.
Obama is close to fulfilling this promise, but we'd like to see how much money Congress provides and how the agency will work. So for now we rate this In the Works.