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Posts Tagged ‘Edward M. Kennedy’

Yesterday, the U.S. House passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  Following Senate passage of the same language last week, this means the bill will now be sent to President Obama so that he can sign it into law.

Unfortunately, the bill does not contain language creating a Commission on Cross-Sector Solution, as we mistakenly reported last week.  It does, however, include a new Social Innovation Funds Pilot Project, through which the Corporation for National Service will award grants to local programs.  We are pleased to see that Congress appreciates the valuable contributions of social entrepreneurs and also understands the need to measure the effectiveness of programs so that philanthropists can identify and fund the kinds of programs that work.  Here are the congressional findings related to this program, along with its stated purpose:

(a) Findings.–Congress finds the following:

(1) Social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations are developing innovative and effective solutions to national and local challenges.

(2) Increased public and private investment in replicating and expanding proven effective solutions, and supporting new solutions, developed by social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations could allow those entrepreneurs and organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives, and support new initiatives, in communities.

(3) A network of Social Innovation Funds could leverage Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to replicate and expand proven solutions and invest in supporting new innovations to tackle specific identified community challenges.

(b) Purposes.–The purposes of this section are–

(1) to recognize and increase the impact of social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations in tackling national and local challenges;

(2) to stimulate the development of a network of Social Innovation Funds that will increase private and public investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing national and local challenges to allow such organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives or support new initiatives;

(3) to assess the effectiveness of such Funds in–

(A) leveraging Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges;

(B) providing resources to replicate and expand effective initiatives; and

(C) seeding experimental initiatives focused on improving outcomes in the areas described in subsection (f)(3); and

(4) to strengthen the infrastructure to identify, invest in, replicate, and expand initiatives with effective solutions to national and local challenges.

With respect to the evaluation component, the bill included language allowing the Corporation to dedicate up to 5 percent of the funds available to the program “to support, directly or through contract with an independent entity, research and evaluation activities to evaluate the eligible entities and community organizations receiving grants … and the initiatives supported by the grants.”

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The U.S. Senate yesterday passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  This bill is expect to pass the House next week and should be signed by President Obama shortly thereafter.

The NonProfit Times detailed some of the highlights of the bill:

The Serve America Act updates and strengthens national service programs administrated by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency created in 1993. Among the highlights touted in the new legislation are:

  • Tripling the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 75,000 a year to 250,000 volunteers a year.Creating four new “corps” to address America’s most pressing challenges, such as energy conservation, healthcare, education and veterans’ issues.
  • Boosting the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, currently $4,725, to increase incentives for service and postsecondary education. Linking it to the maximum Pell grant in the future could make it reach $8,000 by 2014.
  • Creating a “Summer of Service” program to encourage middle and high school students to engage in a summer of community service and put them on a path to a lifetime of service.
  • Establishing “Encore Fellowships,” a one-year fellowship for Americans 50 and older. John Gomperts, president of Civic Ventures, a national think tank on Boomers, work and social purpose, described Encore Fellowships as “perhaps the biggest innovation in this bill.”

There may have been some confusion over the part of the legislation described below.  While it was included in the original Senate version of the Serve America Act, it appears as if it may have been left out of the version that actually passed the Senate on March 26, 2009.  We will keep you posted if and when we learn more.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the bill from our perspective is that it provides for the formation of a Commission on Cross-Sector Solutions.  According to the text of the legislation, the purpose of this Commission is –

  1. to examine and recommend ways in which the Federal Government can interact more efficiently and effectively with nonprofit organizations, philanthropic organizations, and business to achieve better outcomes with regard to addressing national and local challenges, accountability, and utilization of resources;
  2. to provide advice to the President and Congress regarding new, more effective ways for the Federal Government to address national and local challenges in partnership with the nonprofit sector; and
  3. to support research that will advance the impact and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector and the way that the Federal Government interacts with such sector.

The need for cross-sector solutions to global and domestic crises has long been a focus of the work of the Global Philanthropy Forum.  More significantly, this very subject is the theme of GPF annual conference coming up in less than four weeks in Washington, DC.  The eventual passage of this bill should add extra energy to the conference!

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