News and analysis
June 04, 2013

Case Foundation Executive Named to Direct Social Innovation Fund


Michael Smith

A senior executive from the Case Foundation next month will become the new leader of the Social Innovation Fund, Obama administration officials announced today.

Michael Smith, senior vice president for social innovation at the Case Foundation will be the third Social Innovation Fund director since the first, Paul Carttar, was hired in April 2010. Mr. Carttar left in September and now works at the Bridgespan Group’s New York City office.

He was replaced by Idara Nickelson, who left the post three months later for a job at Counterpart International, in Arlington, Va.

For nearly six months, the top position has been filled by an interim leader, Lois Nembhard.

Commitment to the Fund

President Obama asked Congress to provide $49-million for the Social Innovation Fund in his 2014 spending plan, more than the $45-million it receives now but still less than the $50-million annual allocation he has hoped for since 2010.

In its three years of operation, the fund has awarded $137.7-million in grants to 20 grant makers that have used the money to support 200 nonprofits in 37 states and the District of Columbia. That network of nonprofits has used the federal grants to attract an additional $350-million in matching money from private sources to pay for programs that have proven their ability to help needy youngsters, provide job training, and promote economic mobility and better health for Americans.

Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, helped craft the requirements the fund uses to determine whether programs get results. He said the appointment of a full-time director and the proposal to provide money in fiscal 2014 demonstrate President Obama’s commitment to continuing the innovation fund even amid tight government financing constraints

Foundation Links

The Case Foundation has a close connection to the Social Innovation Fund. Sonal Shah, the first director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, is now an official of the foundation.

Mr. Smith, 33, helped design and manage some of the foundation’s highest profile efforts, including the Startup America Partnership, an effort to promote entrepreneurship, which the foundation created along with the Kauffman Foundation and the White House. He also has been overseeing the Be Fearless campaign, which encourages foundations and nonprofits to take more risks

Mr. Smith previously worked at the Beaumont Foundation of America and Power Up: Bridging the Digital Divide.

Send an e-mail to Doug Donovan.