Support for State and Local Governments Announced to Develop Innovative Approach to Social Programs

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: (617) 495-1115
Date: January 14, 2013

The Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that, with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, it will be offering pro bono technical assistance to support four more state and local governments in implementing a “pay-for-success” approach to social spending using social impact bonds. Over the past year, the SIB Lab has helped Massachusetts and New York State develop this approach.

The four state and local governments will be chosen via a national competition. Established with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard Kennedy School’s SIB Lab conducts research on how governments can foster social innovation and achieve better outcomes from their social spending.

Social impact bonds represent an innovative method of financing social programs in which governments partner with service providers and private sector investors to fund social programs. Investors are repaid if and when improved social outcomes are achieved. The programs funded through social impact bonds typically focus on prevention, with a goal of delivering better social outcomes to poor or vulnerable people.

The potential that social impact bonds have to tap into new sources of funding for social service programs is gaining traction across the country, and across party lines. State and local governments from California to New Jersey are working to develop social impact bonds in their communities.

“The fundamental challenge facing governments is how to continue innovating at a time when they can’t even afford to pay for existing services,” said Jeffrey Liebman, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at HKS. “Social impact bonds bring together the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in a program designed to boost social innovation and direct public dollars to programs that work. We are excited to have the opportunity to expand our research while helping four more governments test this approach.”

”In today’s economy state and local governments are being forced to make hard decisions, and social service programs are often the first to be impacted. Social impact bonds provide an exciting opportunity to improve and pay for programs that address complex social problems, all while saving tax payer dollars and focusing on prevention,” said Kippy Joseph, Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are pleased to support the SIB Lab in helping state and local governments pilot this innovative approach to funding social programs.”

Interested applicants should visit the SIB Lab’s website at hks-siblab.org. Applications are due on February 8, 2013, and the successful applicants will be announced in early March 2013.

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