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Support For State and Local Governments Announced to Develop Innovative Approach to Social Programs

NEW YORK—The Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that, with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, it will be offering pro bono technical assistance to support four more state and local governments in implementing a “pay-for-success” approach to social spending using social impact bonds. Over the past year, the SIB Lab has helped Massachusetts and New York State develop this approach.

The four state and local governments will be chosen via a national competition. Established with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard Kennedy School’s SIB Lab conducts research on how governments can foster social innovation and achieve better outcomes from their social spending.

Social impact bonds represent an innovative method of financing social programs in which governments partner with service providers and private sector investors to fund social programs. Investors are repaid if and when improved social outcomes are achieved. The programs funded through social impact bonds typically focus on prevention, with a goal of delivering better social outcomes to poor or vulnerable people.

The potential that social impact bonds have to tap into new sources of funding for social service programs is gaining traction across the country, and across party lines. State and local governments from California to New Jersey are working to develop social impact bonds in their communities.

“The fundamental challenge facing governments is how to continue innovating at a time when they can’t even afford to pay for existing services,” said Jeffrey Liebman, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy at HKS. “Social impact bonds bring together the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in a program designed to boost social innovation and direct public dollars to programs that work. We are excited to have the opportunity to expand our research while helping four more governments test this approach.”

“In today’s economy state and local governments are being forced to make hard decisions, and social service programs are often the first to be impacted. Social impact bonds provide an exciting opportunity to improve and pay for programs that address complex social problems, all while saving tax payer dollars and focusing on prevention,” said Kippy Joseph, associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are pleased to support the SIB Lab in helping state and local governments pilot this innovative approach to funding social programs.”

Interested applicants should visit the SIB Lab’s website at . Applications are due on February 8, 2013 and the successful applicants will be announced in early March 2013.


Media inquiries:

Erissa Scalera, The Rockefeller Foundation, (212) 852-8430 or (917) 207-9595,

Doug Gavel, Harvard Kennedy School, (617) 495-1115,

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation aims to achieve equitable growth by expanding opportunity for more people in more places worldwide, and to build resilience by helping them prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. Throughout its 100 year history, the Rockefeller Foundation has enhanced the impact of innovative thinkers and actors working to change the world by providing the resources, networks, convening power, and technologies to move them from idea to impact. In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, The Rockefeller Foundation has a unique ability to address the emerging challenges facing humankind through innovation, intervention and influence in order to shape agendas and inform decision making. Please visit for more information.

About the Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Impact Lab

The Harvard Kennedy School’s 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.  These insights are ultimately published in academic papers and policy briefs.  By engaging current students and recent graduates in this effort, we are able to provide experiential learning as well.  For more information, please visit: