Commonwealth launches bold model to solve social issues

First “Pay for Success” contract targets high-risk youth

Governor Deval Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts today announced the nation’s largest financial investment in a “Pay for Success” (PFS) initiative, boldly advancing a new model to solve social problems.  The new movement is fueled by a desire by government, private funders and the nonprofit sector to increase resources for proven strategies and accelerate progress on chronic issues.

“PFS contracts allow government with limited resources to expand innovative social programs and only pay for those that actually make a difference,” according to the Commonwealth’s news release.

The launch of the “Pay for Success” model to address crime and recidivism among young male offenders is a milestone for Massachusetts and one of United Way’s long-time partners, ROCA, Inc.  The “Pay for Success” model takes our shared values of collaboration, innovation and measurement of success to a whole new level in the Commonwealth, and it is exciting to see it go from theory to practice to improve young lives in our communities.

“Technically speaking, this project is about reducing incarceration rates and increasing employment among young men involved in the justice system,” said Molly Baldwin, founder and executive director of ROCA, in this article posted on Mass Live . “But at its heart, this project is about much more. It is about various leaders and institutions coming together to create real, sustainable and innovative solutions for problems that are often viewed as intractable realities of urban life: poverty, crime and violence.”

As lead partners in the second “Pay for Success” contract that has been announced by the Commonwealth and is currently under negotiation, United Way, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and Corporation for Supportive Housing will implement this new funding model to reduce chronic homelessness among individuals.  United Way will be enthusiastically watching ROCA’s work with youth get off the ground and looks forward to launching a “Pay for Success” effort in the next year with MHSA and private investors.

Learn more about this proposal to reduce homelessness from this piece by MHSA’s Joe Finn and United Way’s Jeffery Hayward that ran in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Review.