Innovation Fund Initiative

In 2009, the Convergence Partnership launched the Innovation Fund (IF) to create sustainable resources in communities. The fund has encouraged multi-field collaborative partnerships focused on innovative approaches to promoting healthy, equitable communities through policy and environmental changes. Specifically, the IF aims to provide catalytic investments and support foundations to make long-term commitments to:

  • Promote equity, which includes a focus on benefiting low-income communities, communities of color or other vulnerable populations, and create leadership and engagement opportunities for vulnerable populations throughout the policymaking process;
  • Focus on policy and environmental change strategies instead of programmatic or educational initiatives to promote equity and health; and
  • Create non-traditional partnerships and collaborations to effectively create policy and environmental changes and leverage expertise, connections, and funding.

Program Overview

Since 2010, the Convergence Partnership’s Innovation Fund has supported initiatives by local and regional foundations to fund multi-field collaboratives working on built environment and food access efforts in low-income communities and communities of color.  The Convergence Partnership recognizes the leadership of local foundations that know their communities best -- the IF is designed to incentivize funders to take risks in their grantmaking, demonstrate progress, create internal capacity towards sustainability, and offer increased support for policy and environmental change efforts.  To support the efforts of local foundation partners, the IF provides 50 percent matching dollars up to $200,000, along with technical assistance, educational webinars and peer mentoring.

2010–2012 Cohort

In its first grantmaking cycle (2010-2012), the IF provided a total of $1.85 million to 15 local foundation partners, leveraging an additional $4.4 million in local foundation support. The two-year grants ranged from $30,000 to $200,000 each. The 15 IF partners represented urban and rural regions from the West Coast, East Coast, South, and Midwest. They included 10 community and family foundations, and five health specific foundations. Learn more about the 2010-2012 cohort's IF projects, their strategic practices, as well as an overview of their impacts

The first cohort’s initiatives provided instructive lessons about the challenges of conducting community-based policy work within a short time period, building policy capacity within disinvested communities, dealing with controversial policy issues, holding grantees accountable to equity-focused goals, accomplishing policy outcomes in two years and building relationships with other foundations. Learn more about the challenges and lessons of the first cohort's IF partners experienced by visiting Lessons Learned.

2012–2015 Cohort

In January 2013, a total of $1.82 million was awarded to 13 new foundation partners.  The 2012-2015 initiative expands the grant timeframe to three years, while maintaining the same level of funding (50 percent matching dollars up to $200,000).  Grants range from $50,000 to $200,000.  Like the first cohort, partners are geographically diverse, representing both coasts, the South and the Midwest.  Learn more about the 2012-2015 cohort's IF projects

Innovation Fund Quicklinks

Initiative Overview

2010 Cohort

2012 Cohort

Strategic Practices

Lessons Learned

Summary of Impact

Innovation Fund Call for Proposals (CLOSED)