Social Innovation and Impact Seed Grants

Summer 2023 Funding Opportunity

IIN hubs are encouraged to partner/collaborate with each other and the IIN will do its best to support and facilitate.  As an organization, the IIN Council will facilitate collaboration that can be incorporated into a unifying theme with the umbrella concept of “Social Innovation and Impact.” Social Innovation and Impact has multiple meanings, including the broad economic, health-related, and social well-being of the state and its communities, and environmental sustainability of its food and water ecosystem, which includes addressing issues affecting groups who are underserved, under-represented, or under-resourced.

The Social Innovation and Impact projects may include capacity-building, applied research, evaluation, community-based participatory research, coalition building, social entrepreneurship, utilization of research and transfer, scholarship to practice, technical assistance, etc. Complex social problems generally involve interdisciplinary groups and multiple sectors. While for many that has meant demonstrating the impact on job creation and economic development, the spotlight is now extending to social innovation that translates research into projects that directly affect lives, address critical social problems, and build trusted partnerships in the community. Examples of this transformative work include proposals addressing health disparities, affordable housing, digital inclusion, and food deserts.

Within Social Innovation and Impact, these are potential themes or areas of interest for the project:
(a) Education and Workforce Development: developing and sustaining the education of its citizens and developing a productive and inclusive workforce for the 21st century;
(b) Economic Development: sustaining and developing the economy of the state, including understanding how best to support the growth of diverse entrepreneurship, business formation and non-profit capacity-building in Illinois;
(c) Health and Wellness: sustaining and improving the general health and social wellness of all Illinois citizens, including local and regional communities.
(d) Water, Food, and Agriculture: sustaining the water supply, with 20% of the world’s freshwater supply in the shores of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin, the largest in the U.S. and 2nd largest in the world, and enhancing the home to a national leader in food and agriculture;
(e) Computing and Data: under the umbrella of Social Innovation and Impact, there is a foundation of computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. This is an important area in its own right as Illinois develops its high- tech industry, but in this context, it is seen as an enabler for all other aspects of sustainability as articulated above;
(f) Arts and Humanities: creating community arts or historical projects that orchestrate social action like documentaries, built environmental beautification, preservation of landscape, mural projects, documentaries, and similar projects to celebrate the health and cultural wealth of communities and create change through the arts;
(g) Social Justice: fostering racial justice, compassionate immigration, community policing, reduction of recidivism, access to critical services, etc.; and
(h) Other: could be a combination of themes or an area of focus within social innovation and impact not listed above.

Additional criteria should be incorporated into the proposal:
(a) Organizational Capacity: identify approaches to increase organizational capacity or to otherwise provide organizational assistance for community-based organization(s) (e.g., scaling, coordination, entrepreneurship, technical assistance with research and grant writing, etc.) for community-based organization(s).
(b) Sustainability Plan: identify how the programming will continue after the seed funding ends.
(c) IIN Hubs Collaboration: detail how the project will collaborate with another hub at the time of application or, if no other hub is previously engaged, how the project will potentially collaborate with another hub or community-based organization in another hub area during the grant period.