First Pay for Success Project on Workforce Development in the U.S. Documents Significant Wage Gains and Job Retention
Boston—Today, a distinguished panel shared results of an innovative Pay for Success program to build skills and wages in the Commonwealth. A new study from evaluator Economic Mobility documented significant wage gains and job retention from the project’s English for Advancement (EfA) program, which engaged more than 1,000 residents in Boston, Lynn, Lowell, and Lawrence. The evaluation, which includes an ongoing randomized control trial, showed that EfA demonstrates a substantial impact on earnings in the second year after project enrollment, averaging $3,505 over the first two years. Participants who were unemployed at enrollment realized earning gains of more than $7,100 compared to members of the control group during the second year after enrollment. The project is the first Pay for Success project in the nation to focus on workforce development.
At today’s JVS Economic Forum, held online with 250 participants, panelists examined the economic gains that were delivered in communities with high concentrations of immigrants, and how these strategies can be applied to post-pandemic recovery, especially for entry-level workers hit hardest by unemployment.
Mark Elliott, Founder and President of Economic Mobility Corporation unveiled the report, called Stepping Up, saying, “What makes these findings so exciting is that people who were unemployed when they enrolled in EfA saw earnings gains of over $7,100 annually two years later. Impacts this large are absolutely stunning and I think policymakers around the country will be taking note, given the nation’s record-high unemployment rates—particularly in immigrant communities.”
“Workforce credentials provide pathways to in-demand employment opportunities in the Commonwealth,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “Access to quality programs support English Language Learners to make successful transitions to careers.”
The interim report’s findings suggest an important approach to how states can effectively grow their workforce and economies as they address inequality and recover from the pandemic.
“Now as governments are forced to do more with less, proven programs like EfA can help lead the way to economic recovery,” said Tracy Palandjian, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Finance. “A public-private partnership model, Pay for Success scales effective programs, enables governments to fund what works, and delivers measurable impact for our communities.”
Social Finance supported the design, financial structuring, and ongoing impact management for the project. The impact investing nonprofit raised $12.43 million for the project from more than 40 investors including financial institutions, donor-advised funds, individuals, and foundations.
“Adult English language learners are a major source of workforce growth in Massachusetts, and yet they face significant barriers to employment. English language learners earn roughly $24,000 less annually than individuals with similar credentials who speak English fluently,” said Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of JVS. “As the country grapples with economic disparities and an 8% unemployment rate, we encourage policymakers and practitioners to replicate this proven model to help immigrant workers access both entry-level jobs and opportunities for advancement.”
JVS (Jewish Vocational Service) was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression to assist Jewish immigrants struggling to enter the American workforce and support their families. Today, JVS is among the oldest and largest providers of adult education and workforce development services in Greater Boston, serving a diverse clientele representing over 90 nations, and speaking 50 languages, and helping people secure financial independence through educational and employment services. JVS has a reputation for continuous innovation, building person-centered and performance-based models to improve outcomes and increase programmatic effectiveness.
About Social Finance
Social Finance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. Social Finance uses a set of innovative financing strategies called Pay for Success to design and manage public-private partnerships that measurably improve lives. To date, Social Finance has mobilized more than $150 million of capital to address a wide range of social issues in areas such as workforce development, education, health, and criminal justice. Social Finance’s sister organization, Social Finance UK, pioneered the first Social Impact Bond in 2010.
Lidi Chea, Communications Manager, JVS Boston
Carrie Benjamin, Director of Communications, Social Finance
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