Funded on December 1, 2015

Key Insights

  • Increase understanding of the best practices
  • Address the social determinants of health
  • Reduce public expenditures on health and social services

“Pay for Success” (PFS) is a public/private partnership approach to financing proven prevention programs that help the public sector save money or achieve greater value for an investment.

Also known as social impact bonds, the PFS finance model implements evidence-based interventions using capital from investors who only receive a return on their investment if agreed-upon, measurable outcomes are achieved. This project will increase understanding of the potential for and best practices by which PFS initiatives can address the social determinants of health and reduce public expenditures on health and social services, through the following research activities:

  1. Conducting a landscape analysis of all PFS project launched in the U.S. and abroad;
  2. Designing and launching a policy surveillance system that will track local, state and federal PFS-related policy discussions and decisions; and
  3. Producing materials for wide audiences on a number key topics related to the spread of PFS projects, including evaluation best practices and the most promising areas for local/state PFS interventions related to population health and health equity.

Experts from George Washington University and Third Sector Capital Partners will participate in all project research and dissemination activities.

Read "When Does Pay-for-Success Make Sense?" in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, authored by Paula Lantz and Samantha Iovan.

Related Evidence


  • Published April 11, 2019

    Pay for success sparks innovation in the public sector while limiting risk to taxpayers by ensuring the government only pays for services that are effective. Importantly, it can bring financing to interventions for populations that are often forgotten, neglected, or deemed less worthy of taxpayer support, including people experiencing chronic homelessness.

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