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What Works in Social Innovation Funding? New Reports Provide Insights

From youth development to economic mobility, governments and other organizations juggle many social needs with finite resources. To set priorities and expand access to resources, some organizations are partnering with the private sector and using approaches that support the programs and services that have been shown to work. The innovative “Pay for Success” model is a dramatic shift from how government programs and interventions are typically funded, enabling government or other payors (for example, school districts or hospitals) to pay only for outcomes achieved – that is, to pay only for what works. Two reports and two briefs from Abt Global provide new insight on how these models are working and where the field is going.

Developed for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the reports and special topic briefs include: State of the Pay for Success Field II: Emerging Literature, Updates, and Tools; Special Topics Brief: Pay for Success Financial Mechanisms; Special Topics Brief: Service Provider Capacity Building for a Pay for Success Project; Stakeholder Perspectives on the Current State of the Pay for Success Field. Abt wrote the reports and briefs as part of a national process evaluation of the CNCS Social Innovation Fund (SIF) Pay for Success Grant Program.  The program focusses in the SIF’s issue areas of economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development. Collectively, the reports offer findings and practical insights that can assist organizations and stakeholders interested in learning more about Pay for Success.

“These reports are building the evidence for what is working in Pay for Success,” said Meryl Finkel, who leads Abt’s housing practice. “While social finance programs have existed in the UK, we are still uncovering the details to understand what works and why, from the way the funds are managed after the program starts, to how these models might be applied to other areas like healthcare and housing.”

The national process evaluation is a collaboration between Abt’s U.S. Health and Social and Economic Policy divisions. Abt Global completed an earlier report, The State of the Pay for Success Field: Opportunities, Trends and Recommendations, in 2015 for this evaluation.

All reports are available from the SIF Pay for Success National Process Evaluation webpage from CNCS.
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