The Boston Foundation receives $2.7 million federal investment to expand college completion efforts

September 18, 2014

Boston/Washington, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) has announced that the Boston Foundation has been awarded $2.7 million in investments, after a highly competitive open grant competition. Social Innovation Fund investments, announced at the SIF’s Annual Grantee Convening, in Washington D.C., will help expand innovative, evidence-based solutions to challenges facing low-income communities across the country in the areas of youth development, economic opportunity and healthy futures.

Five years into the program launched by President Obama in 2009, the Social Innovation Fund and its non-federal partners have committed to invest more than $700 million in effective community solutions. Including the grants announced Wednesday, the SIF portfolio now represents a $229.3 million federal investment in partnership with 27 intermediaries co-investing in 217 nonprofits in 37 states and Washington, D.C. This modest federal investment is expected to leverage more than $540 million in non-federal match commitments.

The Boston Foundation grant will be used to launch Boston Coaching for Completion, which is designed to replicate and expand the Success Boston coaching model to support up to 1000 graduates of the Boston Public Schools. The Success Boston initiative, launched in 2008 by an innovative collaboration between the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, UMass Boston, the Boston Private Industry Council and dozens of Massachusetts colleges and universities, is built around providing students with the coaching and support they need to get ready, get into and get through college.

“Higher education is a critical element of our efforts to close the opportunity gap in Boston, and programs like Success Boston are giving our students the kinds of supports they need to earn their degrees,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This grant makes it possible for us to expand the Success Boston model, giving hundreds more students the supports that can make the difference for students on their paths to degrees.”

“We are excited about this new class of Social Innovation Fund grantees because they are among the most cutting edge grant-makers in social innovation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “The investment in these organizations will not only bolster local programs’ capacity to serve more individuals in need, but also provide communities with programs that work.”

“Our evaluation of Success Boston coaching thus far has shown its powerful impact on the college persistence of Boston Public Schools graduates,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “We are excited to be working with all the Success Boston partners, Mayor Walsh, Superintendent McDonough and others to build out this innovative coaching model for more BPS graduates to succeed.”

This new class of grantees represents several firsts for the SIF, and addresses the major funding priorities of this competition to reemphasize innovation, expand opportunity for those in greatest need and promote collective impact over incremental programmatic gains. The 2014 cohort includes the SIF’s first two community foundation grantees, expansion to high-needs populations in the South East, South West and Northern California, and programs focused on older women facing economic hardship, childhood hunger and Opportunity Youth (youth 16-24 disconnected from school and work). And, in an overwhelming response to a new funding priority, all seven grantees will be leveraging, and testing, a Collective Impact model, where communities work collaboratively across sectors to identify challenges, set goals and track progress together.

“Five years ago the Social Innovation Fund was created to find solutions that work, and make them work for more people  – signaling a shift in the way the government and philanthropy invests in community solutions. Five years later, we’ve become a national solutions accelerator and amplifier, investing hundreds of millions of dollars, along with our private sector partners to prove, improve and scale solutions that work. This newest class of grantees will take our work to new heights and deeper depths, with a greater emphasis on collective impact and data-driven mobilization, and an urgent focus on big bets to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing our communities," said Michael Smith, Director of the Social Innovation Fund. 

In the next several months the Boston Foundation will hold an open competition to select innovative, effective nonprofits to receive grants valued at a minimum of $100,000 for periods of three to five years. These nonprofits will implement the transition coaching intervention, which has demonstrated preliminary evidence of impact as defined by SIF, and will work with the SIF, the Boston Foundation and an independent evaluator to design and implement a rigorous evaluation that will increase the level of evidence and lead to replicable models and meaningful lessons for the broader social sector.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2014, the Foundation and its donors made more than $112 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of nearly $112 million. In celebration of its centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation has launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, Greater Boston’s only endowment fund supporting organizations focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston.  The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with nearly 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. 

The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives that address the region’s most serious challenges.  The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit