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Social Innovation Fund (SIF)

NYC Opportunity partners with the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC and other partners on the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) a program at the Corporation for National and Community Service that has invested more than half a billion dollars in compelling solutions to challenges facing low-income communities. Like NYC Opportunity, the Social Innovation Fund seeks to expand the evidence base for innovative approaches to social problems, with the goal of reaching scale. NYC Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund were honored to win one of the first SIF grants in 2010, in partnership with seven other cities. In 2015, CNCS awarded NYC Opportunity a second award, in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Connections to Care

Connections to Care logo

Connections to Care (C2C) is an innovative strategy that integrates mental health support into the work of community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve low-income New Yorkers and populations at-risk of having unmet mental health needs. It is expected that C2C will also increase clients' ability to achieve other targeted program-specific outcomes in areas such as employment, housing stability and independence.

One in five adult New Yorkers is estimated to experience a mental health disorder annually, with rates of predictors of mental health disorders similarly alarming among children and adolescents. The distribution of mental illness throughout New York City varies strongly by income, race, and ethnicity. New York City is tackling this public health crisis through ThriveNYC, a mental health roadmap to address the need for a comprehensive, unified approach to mental health services. C2C is one of the 54 initiatives of ThriveNYC.

NYC Opportunity manages C2C in partnership with the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, supported by a grant from the federal Social Innovation Fund at the Corporation for National and Community Service and private donors. C2C supports two key principles of ThriveNYC: Partner with Communities and to Close Treatment Gaps.

The programs target at-risk populations engaged in services, including parents of children up to the age of four; out of school, out of work young adults ages 16 to 24; and/or unemployed or underemployed adults ages 18 and over. Through partnerships between CBOs and Mental Health Providers (MHPs), C2C integrates a core set of evidence-based mental health interventions into social service agencies, and CBO staff are trained by their MHP partners to employ a core package of mental health skills.

By increasing access to mental health services, C2C aims to improve the mental health of participants, and in turn, increase participants' success with other social services provided by the community-based organization.

Learn more about NYC's Mental Health Challenge

The RAND Corporation is leading an evaluation of C2C. Read more about the initiative and the evaluation in the January 2017 Research Brief.


Previous Social Innovation Fund Work

Social Innovation Fund logo

From 2010 through 2016, the Mayor's Fund and NYC Opportunity partnered with seven other cities to implement and evaluate five of NYC Opportunity’s most promising anti-poverty program models. This work was supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and private funders.

Over the course of five years the programs has:

  • Served over 18,500 low-income individuals through employment, education, and asset building programs.
  • Through partnerships, offered financial literacy services to nearly 10,000 individuals.
  • Connected nearly 3,000 individuals with employment.
  • Helped 1,100 individuals earn employment wage gains.
  • Enabled 425 young adults to earn their high school equivalency.

The Mayor's Fund and NYC Opportunity's collaborators in this effort included MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, 18 community-based provider organizations, and eight partner cities: New York City, NY; Cleveland, OH; Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; Newark, NJ; San Antonio, TX; Tulsa, OK; and Youngstown, OH.

MDRC's evaluations of the five program models further demonstrate the positive impact on low-income individuals and families.

These early SIF programs concluded in 2016, but the Mayor's Fund and NYC Opportunity continue to use evaluation findings and lessons learned from this initiative to inform policies and programs at the local and federal levels, including the ongoing SIF-funded C2C project.


Read the SIF Program Data by Fiscal Year