Compared to their high-income peers, children from low-income families are less likely to be ready to learn when entering kindergarten, less likely to be at grade level in reading and math in third grade, and less likely to enter the workforce as young adults with the skills and education needed to succeed. 

Only 8 percent of low-income students earn a college degree by the time they’re 24 years old. Students who never graduate from college are twice as likely to be unemployed, will earn half as much as college graduates, and are more likely to be in poverty as adults.

Interventions throughout the educational career of vulnerable populations can help reduce the achievement gap and promote intergenerational mobility. High-quality, external programming, from preschool to elementary summer programs to college mentoring can have a tremendous impact on long-term academic success. 

Preventative solutions that improve educational attainment for vulnerable populations generate both short- and long-term social value, from increased employment, wages and tax revenue to reduced remedial programming, drop-out rates, and juvenile and criminal justice interactions as individuals are better positioned to achieve their potential. At Social Finance, we consider opportunities to improve educational outcomes throughout the entire spectrum of a student’s education, from early childhood to post-secondary and workforce development in adulthood.

Around the country, innovative interventions target outcomes across this timeline, such as increasing grade level reading by third grade, reducing the number of high school dropouts, increasing attendance, improving academic achievement, and advancing careers. Programming can be delivered in schools to an entire student body, in homes with students and their families, after school or over the summer in groups, to teachers and administrators, online to individuals across the nation, and everywhere in between. At Social Finance we assess these models and interventions to find opportunities where Pay for Success can be utilized to scale programs and enhance opportunity for students and their families.

Our Work

Advancing Career and Technical Education through PFS

Social Finance and Jobs for the Future, through a first-of-its-kind $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, worked with four service providers in four different school districts to advance high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programming across the country. Selected through a national competition, the providers selected were: South Bay Community Services in California, NAF in New York, Mahoning County Educational Services Center in Ohio, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District in Texas.

Lumina Correctional Education Feasibility Study

Social Finance conducted a feasibility assessment to understand the landscape of interventions that deliver postsecondary education to incarcerated populations and to identify high-quality and scalable interventions, service providers and high-potential geographies. Social Finance’s study centered on institution-based programs and tech-enabled digital platforms, and explored opportunities to invest in funding innovation, building an evidence base, and supporting relevant state and federal policy-making.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grantee Projects

Social Finance partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide four of its early childhood and family economic security grantees – Family Independence Initiative, the Center for Urban Families, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) and AVANCE – with rigorous economic and strategic analysis to better articulate the value they generate for society. The resulting publication, “New Tools to Amplify Impact: A Pay for Success Guide to Building Nonprofit Capacity,” shares lessons learned and functions as a how-to guide for nonprofits interested in Pay for Success.

Social Impact Bond Opportunities in Memphis and Shelby County

Social Finance assessed Pay for Success and Social Impact Bond opportunities in home visiting, prekindergarten education, blight, teacher training and recidivism in Memphis and Shelby County, TN.