White House and Department of Education announce first pay for success awards (Urban Institute)

By Mayookha Mitra-Majumdar

On Tuesday night, President Obama spoke at a town hall forum at North Carolina A&T State University to highlight the progress made by the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which aims to close the opportunity gap between young men of color and their white counterparts. The White House used this event to spotlight the Department of Education’s first ever pay for success (PFS) awards in career and technical education as well as dual language programs.

Social Finance, in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF), received $2 million to develop PFS projects that scale new or existing high-quality career and technical education programs. The second awardee—American Institutes for Research (AIR)—received just under $300,000 to conduct a feasibility study to pinpoint a minimum of two school sites already utilizing evidence-based dual language models. These sites could potentially scale up their interventions through a PFS project to reach more students who could benefit from the services.  

As Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. stated:

There has never been a greater need to focus on improving outcomes for our most at-risk student populations such as economically disadvantaged students, justice-involved students, English learners, Native American youth, and children with disabilities. Pay for Success is yet another promising tool to improve outcomes for at-risk students and promote evidence-based policy."

The Department of Education is one of seven agencies that have, or are currently, providing funding to promote PFS efforts in the United States. When targeted to specific issues in the American education system, such as access to high-quality early education, pay for success can not only help secure needed up-front capital, but also seed critical conversations about the importance of data and evidence.

Read the full press release here.

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