JVS and Social Finance reflect on significant gains for immigrant learners in Massachusetts Pay for Success project

November 19, 2020

On Nov. 18, 2020, JVS hosted an economic forum “Pay for Success: Working Toward Economic Advancement” to celebrate results from the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project, a workforce development partnership launched in 2017 with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Social Finance. The virtual forum convened more than 200 attendees and featured panelists Jim Peyser, Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance; Mark Elliott, Founder and President of Economic Mobility Corporation; and Jerry Rubin, President and CEO of JVS.

An independent evaluator, the Economic Mobility Corporation, measured the outcomes from  the English for Advancement (EfA) track of the program via randomized control trial. The evaluation found that EfA demonstrates a substantial impact on earnings for participants in the second year after project enrollment, averaging an increase of $3,505 over the first two years. Participants who were unemployed at enrollment with previous U.S. work experience realized earning gains of more than $7,100 compared to members of the control group during the second year after enrollment. The EfA program has engaged more than 1,000 limited English speakers in Boston, Lynn, Lowell, and Lawrence—all of whom are immigrants and refugees—to make successful transitions to employment and higher-wage jobs. Find out more in this report >>

“There is now statistically significant proof that EfA is a highly successful model that gives adult learners exactly what they most want and need: better skills and better jobs. It’s a model that can be replicated in other states as we move toward economic recovery,” Rubin said. At this point the EfA program is running entirely remotely, enabling adult learners to transition to good jobs amid a global pandemic and economic crisis, ranging from healthcare service to transportation and administrative support.

“Massachusetts is the only state in the U.S. that has put its full faith and credit behind a trust fund to enable Pay for Success projects. We’re so encouraged by the positive outcomes discussed. The project has been a win all aroundfor JVS, taxpayers, the state, investors, and most importantly, people like Ismeilyn, a learner in the EfA program. We’re really proud and grateful to be part of this work,” Palandjian said. Social Finance raised $12.4 million from more than 40 investors to serve approximately 2,000 immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts.

“The pay for performance model for adult education is part of our broader commitment to measurable outcomes for workforce development. In many ways, this is all based on the success of the EfA project,” Secretary of Education Peyser added. He noted that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is shifting the focus of its adult education programs to target measurable outcomes like participants’ earnings growth rather than incremental improvements like enrollment.

“Impacts this large are absolutely stunning and I think policymakers around the country will take note given the nation’s record-high unemployment rates—particularly in immigrant communities,” Elliott concluded.

Watch the full webinar recording to learn more:

Learn more about the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Project >>