President Obama Holds ESPN Town Hall on What Works for At-Risk Youth; Highlights U.S. Department of Education First-Ever Grant to Develop Pay for Success Projects

Social Finance and Jobs for the Future Receive $2M Grant to Develop Pay for Success Projects in Career and Technical Education Programs

President Obama held a nationally televised town hall last night highlighting the progress of his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and the Administration’s commitment to better serve at-risk youth. In conjunction with the event, the White House featured the announcement of a $2 million grant to Social Finance and Jobs for the Future from the US Department of Education to develop Pay for Success projects in career and technical education (CTE) programs to help ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

“Pay for Success is yet another promising tool to improve outcomes for at-risk students and promote evidence-based policy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “By funding outcomes, rather than activities, Pay for Success facilitates an allocation of resources towards interventions that improve the lives of the students they serve.”

Pay for Success is an innovative public-private partnership model that combines nonprofit expertise, private funding and independent evaluation to transform how government leaders respond to chronic social problems. Through the PFS model, the government repays private investors only if the program meets predetermined outcomes. Independent evaluators measure the effects of a program based on positive outcomes achieved, such as increased high-school graduation rates or achievement of credentials, directing taxpayer dollars to support what works.

“We believe all students should have access to the resources they deserve to succeed,” said Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance. “Social Finance is honored to receive this first-ever Pay for Success grant from the US Department of Education to drive greater resources towards education programs that work.”

Pay for Success projects allow governments to tackle pressing challenges, such as narrowing the achievement gap, by expanding proven programs.

“The Obama Administration supports Pay for Success because it is advancing proven, data-driven solutions that are getting better results for communities in need,” said David Wilkinson, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation. “With this award, the Department of Education is expanding the Pay for Success toolkit.”

Aliyah Nisbett, a JFF youth participant, attended the town hall and spoke about what the President’s words meant to her.

“President Obama spoke about the burden that single mothers bear. Coming from a single-parent home, I was inspired by his words and commitment to prove that anyone struggling can overcome difficult situations to pursue their aspirations.”

The need for more effective public investments in education is greatest for underserved, high-need youth. These young people—including low-income youth and students of color—have the lowest rates of high school graduation and postsecondary attainment, and consequently low employment in jobs with sustaining wages.

“We’re very excited to be working with Social Finance to advance high quality CTE models through Pay for Success” said Joel Vargas, Jobs for the Future Vice President. “We know that these pathways will help low-income high school students improve their lives through efficient and effective uses of government investments.”

Social Finance and Jobs for the Future will host an open and fair competition to select four programs to assess the feasibility of using a PFS project to pilot or expand CTE opportunities for students. Social Finance will then help up to three of these programs construct high-quality PFS projects for CTE. Capitalizing on local demand for high-quality CTE programs, these PFS projects will help to create sustainable funding streams to scale effective programs and provide students with educational opportunities that increase their economic mobility.

Social Finance and Jobs for the Future will launch the competition in December 2016.

About Social Finance, Inc.
Social Finance, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. Social Finance is committed to using Pay for Success to tackle complex social challenges, facilitate greater access to services for vulnerable populations, and direct capital to evidence-based social programs – all with the goal of measurably improving the lives of people most in need. Social Finance has deep experience in the design and implementation of Pay for Success projects, from early-stage feasibility assessment, to project development and capital formation, to post-launch performance management and investment support.

About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States. We develop innovative career and educational programs and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled, competitive workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase economic mobility and strengthen our economy.