Impact Investments, Workforce & Economic Mobility, Education, Results-Based Funding

Launched in 2017, Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement—a partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, JVS Boston, and Social Finance—sought to tie workforce development funding to outcomes. The program delivered integrated language instruction and job placement services to approximately 2,000 immigrants and refugees in the Boston area.


Average increase in annual earnings for participants who completed the program before the pandemic

At the heart of the partnership was a Pay for Success structure, wherein impact investors provided upfront funding to JVS, which in turn provided services to immigrants and refugees in Greater Boston. Economic Mobility Corporation, an independent evaluator, measured the wage growth experienced by participants of JVS’s English for Advancement (EfA) track via a randomized controlled trial. The Commonwealth repaid investors when JVS successfully achieved positive outcomes for participants. 

Economic Mobility’s final report, released last month, indicated that EfA is an effective intervention to improve earnings for English language learners. The training resulted in a 7% increase in participant wages after two years—and a 13% increase for participants unaffected by the labor market instability of the early pandemic. That translated to a $1,175 impact on annual wages for all project participants, and $2,478 impact for those who completed the program in 2018 or earlier.

JVS was able to sign an outcomes-based contract with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue EfA beyond the original project. The Commonwealth’s Supplemental Budget, passed in November 2022, allocated $10 million more in grant funding to JVS to support rapid reemployment services. This project also helped influence the state to adopt more pay-for-performance contracting.

Massachusetts’ commitment to evidence-based workforce development could not come at a better time. With the end of Title 42, an influx of migrants are arriving every day seeking work. At the same time, the state is facing a “severe” labor shortage, with 258,000 job openings and only 162,000 available workers. Investments in evidence-based workforce development programs are needed to equip new arrivals with the skills Commonwealth employers are looking for—and to expand economic opportunity to all Bay Staters, new and old.

"I'm so glad I went to JVS because they helped me feel more confident talking with people, especially at work."Ismeilyn, JVS Participant

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The Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement project is a Pay for Success initiative focused on improving employment opportunities for immigrants.

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