THE CAREER IMPACT BOND
The Career Impact Bond (CIB) is a financing model that expands access to quality, industry-recognized career training to people who face barriers to education and employment like low income, criminal justice involvement, and immigration status. It’s based on a student-centered income share agreement (ISA) that allows students to enroll in training with no upfront costs. It works like this:
Impact investors provide catalytic capital to training providers to cover upfront training costs and critical support services for low-wage earners.
Students enroll free of charge, persist and graduate. Those who gain meaningful employment repay program costs as a fixed percentage of their income, capped at a set dollar amount and for a certain period of time. And those who don’t obtain and maintain meaningful employment following graduation pay nothing.
Impact investors and training providers share any payments received from students who find good jobs and achieve increased economic mobility. This aligns incentives and ensures all parties are focused on student success.
Video: Social Finance’s Tracy Palandjian explains the CIB
Video: The student perspective: Branden LaCour, CIB graduate and software engineer
There was already an urgent need to reimagine and rebuild pathways to economic mobility before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans were taking big risks to pursue postsecondary education opportunities no longer helping them reach the middle class. They were accumulating massive debt or leaving paying jobs to enter programs without guarantees of future career success or even employment.
As a result of the pandemic, the need for accessible career training and reskilling is greater than ever before. Positions in many industries are going away and might never return due to seismic shifts in the labor market. Millions more people are now unemployed or underemployed and in need of career-based training programs so they can realize their ambition and achieve economic mobility.
While there are a growing number of accelerated training models that provide skillbuilding for in-demand occupations, these options often come with significant upfront costs.
HOW IT WORKS
The CIB supports fair risk allocation and incentive alignment among students, training providers, and impact investors. Here’s how we build each CIB:
Find in-demand, high-growth job opportunities
We use labor market data to identify good-paying jobs in industries poised for growth.
Design interventions for maximum impact
Each CIB’s terms and flexible support services are designed to help students overcome barriers to education and training.
Collaborate with proven training providers
We partner with education and training programs that have high job-placement rates and relationships with employers.
A typical income share agreement (ISA) is just another financing option for students. The CIB is more than that—it’s a holistic, career-based approach to job training meant to catalyze economic mobility at scale. Five key features underpin the CIB:
People-centered design. The CIB is designed for unemployed or underemployed people who face barriers to education, including ineligibility for private loans or scholarships for non-Title IV programs, poor credit history, justice system involvement, and immigration status—barriers that disproportionately affect people of color.
Wraparound support services. The CIB provides a suite of wraparound support services, including career coaching, emergency aid funding, and benefits enrollment assistance, to help students address real-life challenges so they can focus on their training.
Consumer-friendly repayment terms. Students have access to consumer-friendly repayment features like payment caps, fixed repayment terms, and downside protection, all of which are outlined in a Student Bill of Rights.
Impact-first capital. Impact-first capital covers program costs and wraparound support services. These dollars come from philanthropically motivated impact investors through vehicles like our UP Fund. Governments can also use CIBs without the participation of impact investors to create pay-it-forward funds to train future workers.
Aligned incentives. An outcomes-based contract focuses the project on student success and creating incentive alignment among students, training providers, and impact investors.
Active Career Impact Bonds
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CAREER IMPACT BOND
The General Assembly Career Impact Bond expands access to software engineering and user experience design programs for people who qualify for public benefit programs or who have come into contact with the criminal justice system.
ACUITUS CAREER IMPACT BOND
The Acuitus Career Impact Bond prepares graduates to become system administrators, network engineers, and IT specialists, with a focus on individuals who qualify as low income or served in the military.
ALCHEMY CODE LAB CAREER IMPACT BOND
The Alchemy Code Lab Career Impact Bond creates pathways to careers in mid-level software developer and engineering roles, particularly for women and LGBTQIA+ individuals, and it offers the option to cover students’ living expenses.
DIESEL TECHNICIAN CAREER IMPACT BOND
The American Diesel Training Centers Career Impact Bond provides hands-on training to become a diesel technician, an in-demand occupation that faces labor shortages across the country.
PAY IT FORWARD FUNDS
Social Finance is partnering with state governments and local workforce funders across the country to create self-sustaining pools of job training dollars called Pay It Forward Funds (PIFFs).
- “Filling the Skills Gap: A New Way of Training Workers to Match the Jobs,” Matter of Fact TV
- “Job Training That’s Free Until You’re Hired Is a Blueprint for Biden,” The New York Times
- “Social Finance: Trainers Make the Grade When Students Get Good Jobs,” Harvard Business School Managing the Future of Work Podcast
- “For Low-Income Workers, a Chance to Learn New Skills Without Paying a Dime Upfront,” The Boston Globe
- “Unifying America: Nonprofit Provides Support For Low-Income Workers Looking to Switch Careers,” CBS Boston
- Workforce Realigned, Chapter 17, “Access to Opportunity: The General Assembly Career Impact Bond,” Social Finance and the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Philadelphia
- “Alchemy Code Lab Snags $5.8 Million for Tuition Financing Program,” Portland Business Journal
- “With Businesses Struggling to Fill 6 Million Jobs, We Need More Effective and Accessible Training,” Milken Institute
- “The Future of Upskilling is Here: Webinar Recap,” Social Finance
- “Blue Meridian, Schmidt Futures Back Career Impact Bonds via Social Finance’s UP Fund,” Impact Alpha
- “Career Impact Bonds Transfer Risk to Investors as the Future of Work Arrives,” Impact Alpha
- “Increasing Access to Nursing Training,” Social Finance
If you are interested in learning more about partnering with Social Finance on a Career Impact Bond, contact Vice President Jake Edwards.