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Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement

Public Sector Solutions, Workforce & Economic Mobility, Education


2,000+Immigrants and refugees successfully transitioned to higher-wage jobs and higher ed programs


Increase in wages overall for participants in the English for Advancement track

Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement is a Pay for Success project that expanded education and employment opportunities for approximately 2,000 immigrants and refugees in the Boston area. Launched in 2017, the project was developed through a partnership between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, JVS Boston, and Social Finance. Vocational English language classes—integrated with job search assistance and coaching—assisted 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, offered four distinct program tracks—Rapid Employment, English for Advancement, Skills Training, and Bridges to College—that drew on its expertise in integrating adult education and workforce development. The Commonwealth repaid investors when JVS successfully achieved positive outcomes for participants.

Economic Mobility Corporation measured outcomes from the English for Advancement (EfA) track of the project via a randomized controlled trial, the first RCT study on the earnings impacts of a workforce development program for English language learners. The study found that EfA resulted in a 7% increase in wages overall for participants and a 13% increase for individuals unaffected by the early pandemic labor market.


  • Support limited English speakers to find work, increase their earnings, and make successful transitions to higher education.
  • Equip residents with the skills that Commonwealth employers are seeking.
  • Build on Massachusetts’ history of Pay for Success to expand workforce development opportunities for residents, especially immigrants and refugees.

Participant Stories

For Ismeilyn, Language and Career Training Brought Confidence
Ismeilyn headshot

For Ismeilyn, Language and Career Training Brought Confidence

Ismeilyn, a recent immigrant from the Dominican Republic, wanted to learn English to expand her job opportunities in the United States. She was able to, thanks to Massachusetts Pathways. After completing classes, she landed a job at a packaged food company in Wilmington, which quickly led to a promotion.

How It Works

Programs like Massachusetts Pathways illustrate our administration's focus on making smart investments in promising evidence-supported programs coupled with rigorous evaluation of results.

Governor Charlie Baker

Former Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Charlie Baker Headshot
[I was involved in a Social Impact Bond] that’s had astounding success: some $3,500 more in average income for folks who graduated from this program ... evaluated independently so no state funds were disbursed until goals were achieved.

Governor Deval Patrick

Founder and Chairman, TogetherFUND, on Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement

Headshot of Deval Patrick, wearing a quarter zip in a library.
Social Finance is an innovator in creating scaled financing solutions for big impact. Pay for Success helped us engage in systems change in a very significant way … There is no reason why 49 other states couldn't do this.

Jerry Rubin

Former President and CEO, JVS Boston

Jerry Rubin Headshot



Partners and Supporters

Photos courtesy of JVS Boston.

Related Work