Start It Up Delaware's new Social Impact Fund looks to boost area causes - Delaware


Oct. 20, 2014 7:35 am

Start It Up Delaware’s new Social Impact Fund looks to boost area causes

The fund will dish out $250,000 to local nonprofits.
Find that spark.

Find that spark.

(Photo by Flickr user Joey Gannon, used under a Creative Commons license)

Disclosure: Start It Up Delaware is a founding sponsor of Delaware. This post is not a part of that relationship.

Nonprofits are typically tasked with solving real-world problems: education, healthcare, hunger, housing, technology, safety and so on.

Start It Up Delaware is specifically looking to work with nonprofits that are creating innovative solutions to these real-world problems — with its recently launched Social Impact Fund.

With $250,000 in capital from Discover Bank, SIUD co-founder and chairman Jon Brilliant says the time is now for nonprofits of all stripes to apply.

“Our goal is four-fold — first to solve community-based problems; second to create companies; third to create jobs; and fourth, to stand up Delaware as a leader,” said Brilliant, 50, who is also a founding member and past CEO of WellDoc and a senior advisor to the Merck Global Innovation Fund.

Brilliant will oversee the fund, which aims to help nonprofits launch projects or products that are self-sustaining. The fund was started at the Delaware Community Foundation, which manages charitable funds and distributes income from the funds throughout the state.

The fund, modeled after social impact bonds which originated in the United Kingdom in 2010, will embrace the “pay it forward” idea.

If a nonprofit’s project is successful, the nonprofit will donate the original investment made in their organization back to the fund so that future nonprofits can have access to funding, as well.

“We’re really about turning innovation on its head,” Brilliant said. “We believe its singularly unique. Hopefully, you create companies and jobs out of it and then you pay it forward.”

The Health for Americafellowship program is the first group to receive funding. The organization is partnering with Christiana Care. The fund is allowing four fellows to spend a year with physicians and leaders to identify how the treatment of chronic heart failure can be improved.


Since the fund launched in early October, Brilliant said he’s received just a handful of inquiries. He said nonprofit groups from Delaware, no matter what industry or field, should contact him with innovative ideas to solve problems.

“We have problems to solve in our community — workforce training, healthcare, education. It’s a community-based effort,” he said.

Applicants and those interested in supporting the fund can send an email to

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