Piloting Pay for Success Funding in Milwaukee

Piloting Pay for Success Funding in Milwaukee

January 4, 2016 | Kari Lerch, Public Policy Institute

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Today’s nonprofits need a significant amount of strength and stamina to meet the ongoing challenges of changing funding priorities, an increased emphasis on showing success, and meeting the growing needs of the community being served. This is certainly something with which the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute (CA-PPI) is familiar.  

Today’s nonprofits need a significant amount of strength and stamina to meet the ongoing challenges of changing funding priorities, an increased emphasis on showing success, and meeting the growing needs of the community being served. This is certainly something with which the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute (CA-PPI) is familiar.  

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, CA-PPI wanted to address increasing community violence and decided to implement the Youth Works MKE pilot project. The project is based on the successful One Summer Plus model in Chicago. Our goal was to engage youth with employment plus social-emotional learning and mentorship in order to reduce rates of violent crime arrests. 

One of the underlying visions for this project was to use the Pay for Success (PFS) model of financing. This model allows for private donors to make investments by funding programs to meet the needs identified and targeted by those programs. In return, the investment is paid back by the government entity that realizes the savings. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) put out a request for proposals offering technical assistance to agencies seeking a feasibility assessment regarding whether this funding model would be a good fit for their programs. CA-PPI was happy to be one of NCCD’s three awardees nationwide. 

NCCD’s assistance has allowed for a neutral outside party to come in and help our implementation partner, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, with assistance in framing out the goals and objectives of the Youth Works MKE program. NCCD also ensured that the appropriate measures were in place to collect the data needed to complete the feasibility assessment. In addition to being extremely helpful in this area, NCCD also has worked with us on presentations that educate community partners about PFS and the potential it has to scale a project and meet the needs of the community. 

The expertise shown by the NCCD team has been invaluable in implementing and evaluating the Youth Works MKE project. If successful, we will not only show an effective prevention program to reduce violent crime arrests, but could potentially bring a new infusion of dollars into the community that would allow us to scale our program to meet the entire community’s needs. It is this vision that provides us with the strength and stamina we need to continue to address complex community issues like violence. 
 

Kari Lerch is deputy director of the Public Policy Institute, a division of Community Advocates, in Milwaukee. She joined Community Advocates as an intern eight years ago while working on her bachelor’s degree in social work. As Lerch advanced through the organization’s ranks, she also earned a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration.