Newswise — For state and local governments, repairing a road or building a new park easily shows a benefit to taxpayers and can be fairly simple to fund. But addressing longer-term issues, such as homelessness or early-childhood achievement gaps can prove trickier.
A new policy lab at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, however, is hoping to spark progress on difficult social issues. The Policy Innovation Lab at the Eccles School’s Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center is aiming to help three to five governments in the Western United States tackle such issues with an innovative funding source called Pay for Success (PFS).
PFS is a form of government contracting that prioritizes paying for outcomes of a social service (e.g., 10% reduction in chronic homelessness) rather than merely funding the delivery of services. Private investors participating in a PFS project pay the upfront costs for providing evidence-based social services and government agencies repay investors with a modest return only if the program achieves agreed-upon outcomes.
The Lab issued a request for proposals for governments to participate in the inaugural Innovation Fellowship Program on Jan. 21 with a deadline of March 11. Participating governments will receive high-level support services and cash sub-grants of between $75,000 and $250,000 from the Lab to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a pay for success project in their communities. The Lab will also provide PFS-related technical assistance to nonprofit service providers in those same communities pursuant to a subsequent request for proposals that the Lab anticipates launching in April 2015.