The Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project is a Pay for Success (PFS) initiative that increases employment opportunities for limited English speakers and helps them progress up the economic ladder by providing workforce development services. Launched in 2017, the project was developed through a partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS Boston), and Social Finance.
The Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project delivered services to approximately 2,000 immigrants and refugees in Greater Boston. Vocational English language classes, integrated with job search assistance and coaching, assist limited English speakers in making successful transitions to employment, higher-wage jobs, and higher education.
JVS, one of Greater Boston’s largest community-based workforce and adult education providers, offers four distinct program tracks—Rapid Employment, English for Advancement, Skills Training, and Bridges to College—that draw on its expertise integrating adult education and workforce development. The Commonwealth repays investors when JVS successfully achieves positive outcomes for participants.
An independent evaluator, the Economic Mobility Corporation, is measuring outcomes from the English for Advancement (EfA) track of the project via a randomized controlled trial. Preliminary results—with approximately half of the program participants’ outcomes measured—found that EfA demonstrated a substantial impact on earnings for participants in the second year after enrollment, with an average participant income increase of $3,505 over the first two years. Participants with previous US work experience who were unemployed at enrollment realized earnings gains of more than $7,100, compared to members of the control group.
Goals of the Project
- Support limited English speakers to find work, increase their earnings, and make successful transitions to higher education
- Equip Massachusetts residents with the skills that Commonwealth employers are seeking
- Build on Massachusetts history of Pay for Success to expand workforce development opportunities for residents
How It Works
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Make payments when outcomes are achieved
Develop project, mobilize capital, manage for results
Jewish Vocational Service
Provide workforce development services
Limited English speakers
Participate in JVS services
Economic Mobility Corp
Provide upfront capital
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts serves as payor for the project and will ultimately make up to $15 million in success payments.
Jewish Vocational Service received funding to deliver four program tracks, providing vocational training, English language classes and job search assistance to approximately 2,000 individuals in Greater Boston.
Social Finance supported the design, negotiation, and financial structuring of the project and managed the capital raise. We currently coordinate performance management services and will continue to do so for the duration of the project.
Mobility leads the evaluation of the project.
Jobs for the Future provided technical assistance on the project. They supported performance management activities for one of the program tracks during the project’s first year.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as placement agent for certain qualified high net worth and institutional investors.
The project’s 40 impact investors include:
- Living Cities, Blended Catalyst Fund
- Prudential Financial, Inc.
- Maycomb Capital, Community Outcomes Fund
- Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Donor Advised Funds
- Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
- Blue Haven Initiative
- The Boston Foundation
- Boston Impact Initiative
- The Inherent Foundation
- The Kresge Foundation
- The Shapiro Foundation
- Sorenson Impact Foundation
In the News
- “‘Pay for Success’ proves a boon to social services,” The Boston Globe
- “In Massachusetts, investors are betting on immigrants,” Institutional Investor
- “How Massachusetts’s new PFS project will help make the American Dream a reality,” Living Cities
- “New English learning program also aims at career advancement,” The Lawrence-Eagle Tribune
- “Stepping Up: interim findings on JVS Boston’s English for Advancement show large earnings gains,” Economic Mobility Corporation
- “First-of-its-kind study finds ‘stunning’ earnings gains for immigrants who learn English,” The Boston Globe