With this issue, we inaugurate a new column from Washington's pithiest, most independent critic: Rick Cohen. Although many of us aren't deeply involved with policy matters, all of us do want to have a general view of what's going on. In future every-other-issue columns Rick will report on the role of foundations in tax cuts, how the Obama administration sees the nonprofit sector, and the apparent disappearance of faith-based funds. His first column takes on the much-publicized, little-analyzed new federal Social Innovation Fund:
Despite the fact that President Obama's staff is still trying to figure out what social innovation really means, we've got a pretty good idea on what will be in the $50 million Social Innovation Fund -- and what won't be. For starters, it's now the $35 million Social Innovation Fund (more on this below).
First, grants to regrantors
Because the program needs non-governmental grantmakers that can provide matching funds, the Fund is largely structured to pass money to and through established grantmakers, particularly community and private foundations.
Of the total amount, 5% comes off the top for evaluation and R&D, and only 10% will go as grants awarded directly to "community organizations." The remaining 85% will go in grants sized between . . .