State selects nonprofit for pay-for-success adult education program (Boston Globe)

By Deirdre Fernandes

  Governor Deval Patrick is expanding a financing plan that pays for social services based on results to a new area: adult education programs.

Patrick said Wednesday that the state is setting aside up to $15 million to help as many as 16,000 adults learn to read, write, and do basic math. The state has selected Jewish Vocational Service, a Boston nonprofit to provide the services, which should help residents get higher wage jobs and pursue college degrees, administration officials said.

“Expanding access to education and job training opportunities will strengthen Massachusetts to compete in the global workforce,” said Matthew Malone, the state’s education secretary, in a statement.

Under this financing model, called pay-for-success, private investors initially fund the programs. If they succeed at improving the chances that participants can find better work, attain a post-secondary degree or a training certificate, the state will pay the money back, plus a reasonable return. If they don’t succeed, then the state pays nothing and the investors absorb the costs.

Jewish Vocational Service will work with Social Finance, another non-profit, to raise the initial investment, state officials said.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to adopt the pay-for-success model, viewed as a way to save government money and encourage nonprofits to try innovative approaches to solving persistent social problems. The state is already using it for juvenile justice and homeless prevention programs.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.