Notes from the field: (Strategic) planning for success with our NoSA applicants (Urban Institute)

By Kimberly Walker, Urban Institute, Training and Technical Assistance Manager

The Urban Institute’s Pay for Success Initiative training and technical assistance work is underway. Last year, we kicked off a competitive selection process through our Notice of Support Availability (NoSA) for local and state governments and pay for success (PFS) intermediaries interested in receiving free technical assistance services from our team. Our support will be centered on our six step training and technical assistance framework that was introduced in the NoSA (and pictured below).

At Urban, we believe in carefully executed strategic planning to ensure strong PFS projects that are focused on scaling interventions grounded in evidence or building the evidence base around newer interventions. Therefore, much of our early work with communities focuses on understanding the issues and inefficiencies that prevent governments from effectively serving vulnerable populations. Before proposing PFS as a mechanism for financing proven or innovative interventions, we want to understand the nature of the problems communities are facing. We also want to assess factors that may impact the suitability of PFS for addressing a particular problem, including the capacity of services providers and data availability.

At every point in our technical assistance work, we’ll be thinking about evaluation. Developing the most rigorous evaluation design possible is central to Urban’s values and crucial to ensuring that the project’s outcomes are measured properly. Evaluation considerations should start at the beginning of a PFS project so that partners (1) have time to ensure they have the data systems and other resources necessary to carry out the evaluation successfully and (2) have time to consider and prepare for how the evaluation design chosen might impact or alter their operations. We’ll also provide support assessing the costs and benefits of a PFS project and how to price outcomes.

We received many strong applications in response to our NoSA that ranged from communities with nascent interest in PFS to intermediaries who are already leaders in the field. Ultimately, we chose the following governments and intermediaries to receive our comprehensive Strategic Planning assistance, which includes help on all of the steps and deliverables listed above:

We will also deliver more targeted support to:

We’re excited to begin working with our partners, and we hope our collaboration will lead to a rich exchange of information and valuable lessons learned. We will be sharing some of these takeaways on this blog. Stay tuned!

As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Scholars are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research.