The Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) conducts research on how governments can foster social innovation and improve the results they obtain with their social spending.  An important part of our research model involves providing pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments implementing pay-for-success contracts using social impact bonds. Through this hands-on involvement, we gain insights into the barriers that governments face and the solutions that can overcome the barriers.  By engaging current students and recent graduates in this effort, we are able to provide experiential learning as well.  The 10 governments we are currently assisting are:

  • Chicago
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Denver
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina


Massachusetts Launches Social Impact Bond

On January 29, 2013, Massachusetts launched a social impact bond that will benefit almost 1,000 young men  who are in the probation system or exiting the juvenile justice system and have a high risk of re-offending. The 7-year project will be implemented by Roca, Inc. in the Boston and Springfield areas. Third Sector Capital Partners will serve as the project’s intermediary. In order to fund the program, Goldman Sachs, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, New Profit, The Boston Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Living Cities provided $18 million in grants and loans. If the project successfully decreases incarceration, increases job readiness, and increases employment among the young men served, the Commonwealth will make up to $27 million in success payments.  In 2013 Massachusetts received an $11.7 million U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund grant, which will enable the Commonwealth to extend the project, should it prove successful, to an additional 391 young men. For more information, please see the Commonwealth’s press release here and additional information on the Third Sector Capital Partners website.

New York State Launches Criminal Justice Social Impact Bond

On December 30, 2013, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the first state-led SIB in the United States, and service delivery has begun. Through this project 2,000 formerly incarcerated individuals who are at high risk of reoffending will be connected with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) to receive evidence-based employment training and job placement services over 4 years. Individual and institutional investors invested $13.5 million in this project, and will be repaid based on the program’s impact on recidivism and employment. This is the largest operational SIB in the world to date and the first to use a randomized control trial (RCT) in determining outcome payments. Please see the New York State press release for further information.

Our email address is: hks-siblab@hks.harvard.edu


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