American Express Foundation Invests in High-Performing Leaders at the Center for Employment Opportunities

NEW YORK, New York, Jan.22, 2015– American Express has awarded the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) a grant to launch the National Reentry Leaders Program, a new initiative to cultivate emerging leaders at CEO to galvanize community support for reentry policy and programs.

“Leadership development is critical to our own company’s success, which is why we’re committed to helping nonprofits do the same,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “We aim to support best-in-class nonprofits that are tackling tough social issues and give them resources to invest in emerging leaders who will propel them toward their vision.”

CEO is a leader in nonprofit performance management and the organization’s outcomes reflect this reputation. Since 1996, CEO has secured over 18,000 full-time job placements for formerly incarcerated individuals in ten cities across New York, California and Oklahoma. CEO’s impact has been proven through rigorous, independent evaluation to increase public safety, save taxpayers’ money, and put people on the path to economic stability — all at the same time.

“CEO’s ability to deliver high-quality services as we have expanded our national footprint is driven by the alignment of talent and mission,” said Sam Schaeffer, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of CEO. “The American Express Foundation’s generous support will allow us to invest in our national leaders and drive impact in the 10 cities around the country where we work.”

The National Reentry Leaders Program kicked off Tuesday, January 20 with a weeklong leadership development conference at the Robin Hood Foundation’s headquarters in Manhattan and will conclude this Friday. Speakers include members of Robin Hood’s fundraising team, known for building an unmistakable brand and wildly successful donor cultivation strategy; Allison Fine, author of the award-winning Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age and bestselling The Networked Nonprofit; partners from AchieveMission, and several leading experts in the reentry and criminal justice communities. Approximately 20 national delegates will convene for the program.


About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,and Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, corporate card and business travel.

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social sectors, American Express awards grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in their communities. More than 15,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs that address the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector.

About the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)
CEO is a national organization dedicated to providing immediate, effective and comprehensive employment reentry services to individuals with recent criminal convictions. Since its inception, CEO has helped secure over 18,000 jobs for formerly incarcerated men and women. In an independent study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CEO was proven to reduce recidivism by up to 26% for those who participate in our program.

Beth Kempner, Director of Public Affairs


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Rebuilding Lives, Reducing Costs: Social Impact Bond Finances Jobs Over Jail


BY  DECEMBER 23, 2014


The snow was blowing and it was in the 20s on Wall Street on the day after New Year’s but dozens of mostly young, mostly black, and mostly unemployed men showed up for job training and placements on the first working day of 2014.

The men, all recently released from prison, were making an investment in their own future. They were eager to enroll at the nonprofit Center for Employment Opportunities, better known as CEO, which operates out of the 18th floor of a building in the heart of New York City’s financial district.

Other, more familiar, fixtures on Wall Street — including former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — are making an investment in the young men as well.

The ex-offenders lining up for employment help were among the first of 2,000 CEO clients in New York City and Rochester whose job training costs are covered under a “pay-for-success” contract financed by private investors. Bank of America Merrill Lynch offered the investment to its private banking clients, Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve last year, more than 40 high net worth investors committed $13.5 million.

If enough of the formerly incarcerated men stay out of prison, the investors stand to recoup their principal and plus a return that can range between 5 and 12.5 percent. If CEO’s program fails to significantly reduce recidivism (with at least an 8 percent reduction in jail and prison days), investors will lose up to 90 percent of their money.

Risks are privatized and gains are socialized. That’s a new model, one harnessing private capital to serve the public good.Tracy Palandjian, CEO, Social Finance

Pay-for-success contracts, colloquially known as “social impact bonds,” are attractive to cash-strapped states and cities because they are obligated to pay only when the results are proven and the savings are realized. For investors, the investment proposition might more accurately be called “repaid-for-success.” Private investors provide the upfront risk capital to finance the preventive services. They get their capital back, plus a financial return, out of the government’s avoided costs from a successful intervention.

The contract, issued by the state of New York, is not the first pay-for-success contract, but it is the first to be offered directly to individual qualified investors. In earlier deals, institutional investors, like Goldman Sachs, backed social impact bonds with their own capital; the New York State contract is the first test of private investor interest in financing this new way to deliver preventive social services. With a minimum investment of $100,000 and a five-and-a-half-year lockup, the private investors committed an average of $300,000 each. The whole deal was brokered by an innovative nonprofit called Social Finance, which has helped bring the pay-for-success model from the U.K. to the U.S.

“The idea that there may be a different way to attract new capital, coupled with ways to improve the actual results, was naturally attractive,” says Paul Bernstein, who invested as executive director of the Pershing Square Foundation, Karen and Bill Ackman’s philanthropic vehicle. Bernstein says Bill Ackman, known as an activist investor who makes big bets, took a personal interest in the innovative structure as a way around government’s seeming inability to adequately fund even proven prevention techniques.

“If you really want this thing to scale and create a new funding model, you had to build a commercially viable approach, and they did that by bringing in BofA,” Bernstein says. As for the investment, he says, “It’s clearly not going to offer the best return you could get on any investment, but it’s a viable part of a diversified portfolio.”

Velocity is an ‘aha’ moment. It’s very different than a grant in which the money is gone.Surya Kolluri, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Other investors include the Utah philanthropist James Sorenson’s Sorenson Impact Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. “Pay-for-success is a funding arrangement that allows governments to make risk-free investments in an effort to improve citizens’ lives and ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated in the smartest, most efficient way,” said Leila Walsh, a spokeswoman for the Arnold Foundation, who added that any returns would be reinvested in future projects to scale up those that prove to have impact.

Performance-based contracting is common in areas such as energy efficiency, in which predictable savings allow energy service companies to guarantee their results. But they’re new for social services, where conventional budgeting processes generally pay for services, not outcomes. To government bureaucrats, a reduced number of prison bed-days is at least as appealing as a lower electricity bill.

“What’s most exciting intellectually is that the investment alpha is directly and explicitly linked to the social impact achieved,” says Tracy Palandjian, the chief executive of Social Finance. “It’s the very betterment of lives — the person getting a job, keeping a job, staying out of trouble — that is the source of the investment returns via government savings.”

Life Skills

For social service providers, social impact bonds represent a sea change not only in the amount, but in the kind of available capital. Payment in advance eliminates the challenge of meeting expenses while waiting for government reimbursement. Since investors are repaid based on outcomes, not inputs, unrestricted funding is not tied to specific program components and can be spent on what works best. With costs covered in full, providers can focus on services, not fundraising. All of that is intended to help high-performing nonprofits with proven interventions thrive, not merely survive.

At CEO on a recent day, dozens of men cluster around tall bistro tables with bright green chairs in the glass-enclosed reception area, waiting for their next work assignments. The agency runs its own social enterprise and contracts with city agencies and other companies to provide transitional employment that builds basic work skills and habits.

Before they go out to work, however, CEO helps the men identify their own motivations in a one week Life Skills Education class. In two classrooms around the corner from the reception area, two Life Skills sessions are underway: one for younger participants ages 18-25, the other for older participants, some of whom have served sentences for more serious offenses, including murder and armed robbery.

In the first classroom, students are reading from an essay by basketball star Michael Jordan. “Everyone had a different agenda for me, but I had my own,” reads one young man. Heads nod around the room. One student jokes his mother wanted him to be a basketball player. He wants to start a clothing line.

“I just don’t want to go back to jail,” says another.

In the other classroom, an instructor named Mary is leading about 20 men through a set of short, direct questions. “What is your goal when you leave this class?” Some of the responses, hesitant and mumbled sound like lines the men may have heard from others: “To better myself.” “To take care of myself and my family.” “To be a positive member of my community.” Mary keeps pushing.

One man, wearing a collared shirt and glasses, lifts his head. “To get a job,” he answers. Bingo.

“Today is graduation day,” Mary says, as she distributes certificates and hugs. “Today marks something you started and something you finished.”

The men will receive a badge, work boots, and their first assignment as official employees of CEO. Each employee is responsible for signing up for transitional job placements and can work at those sites for up to 75 days before moving into a permanent job placement. CEO seeks to place graduates in full-time jobs, ranging from the retail sector to food service to the construction trades. While challenges will remain, these are important steps on the ladder toward economic security and self-determination.

Measuring Outcomes

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or punishment. As measurement methods improve, social impact bonds are being developed for early childhood education, foster care, asthma, diabetes, and many other challenges.

Prison recidivism has been an easy and obvious target for the first social impact bonds in both the U.S. and the U.K. Reduced recidivism means dramatic savings in prison occupancy, victim assistance, and other social costs. Determining whether an individual is or isn’t in prison is binary, rather than the shades of gray that can color program results in other areas. The average number of days of incarceration per person is easily measured, as are the state’s financial savings.

CEO estimates intensive job support for people coming out of incarceration saves $60,000 per individual per year. New York state, for example, was willing to pay about half of that, or $85 for each bed-day saved. High levels of incarceration, particularly of young black men, is an increasingly charged issue in local and national politics, but pay-for-success financing transforms it into a rational calculation.

The state of New York can repay the investors’ capital, with a modest premium, and still save millions of dollars in the long run. (It doesn’t hurt that the U.S. Department of Labor will cover the repayment for service delivery taking place in the first two years, under a pilot program to test these kinds of financing arrangements.) That doesn’t account for the improved prospects of the target population and the community at large.

Investors will start to receive repayments if the project reduces the number of nights the clients in CEO’s target group spend back in prison by at least 36.8 bed-days per person, or 8 percent, compared to a similar group that does not receive CEO’s services. If performance exceeds those thresholds, investors can earn up to 12.5 percent after five and a half years. Once the minimum is met, investors get 100 percent of the state’s savings until their capital is repaid, then split additional savings 50-50 up to the cap. If reductions are even more dramatic, the state keeps the additional savings. Most observers expect returns in the mid-single digits.

The program must also show a 5 percentage point increase in employment, perhaps the key determinant in staying out of prison. In New York state, an estimated 44 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals on parole who are unemployed return to prison within two years. For those with part-time unemployment it’s 29 percent, and for those with full-time employment, it’s 23 percent.

Pay-for-success contracts are not appropriate for bleeding-edge innovation; they typically work best to scale up proven, battle-tested interventions. CEO has honed its four-step process of life-skills training, transitional job training, full-time placement, and job retention over 35 years. A random-assignment trial in 2004 found that CEO’s program achieved a 16 to 22 percent reduction in recidivism for recently released participants; some high-risk groups showed even better results. Employment results were less conclusive in the original evaluation, but CEO’s internal data shows that additional post-placement counseling consistently boosted job retention over the last 10 years. With pay-for-success funding, CEO offers such follow-up help.

“The pay-for-success contract looks at, ‘What is the benefit? What is the cost?” says Marta Nelson, who previously headed CEO’s New York City office. “The benefits outweigh the costs, so let’s pay what it actually costs.’” This shift is significant, as organizations like CEO can be paid adequately to deliver the comprehensive suite of services clients actually need.

Perhaps even more important, the contract is driving increased cooperation between the Department of Corrections and CEO. The data shows that CEO is particularly effective with high-risk clients that it can reach as soon as possible after release. In the new program, the participant meets jointly with a parole officer and a CEO outreach worker in the very first weeks after release. That “match candidate” meeting is intended to convey that the candidate has been selected for a program specially tailored to his needs.

“We message it in a very positive way,” Nelson says. “And because it’s parole, there’s an element of a ‘special condition’ that conveys that you are required to go to the program. That combination gets people to walk in the door.”

More broadly, the shared incentives mean state officials are eager to see the program work. CEO and state officials zip spreadsheets back and forth monthly, or even weekly, tracking enrollment rates to assess if the project is attracting the desired participation.

“Under an old contract, government is buying a service. They are worrying about whether you are sending in the forms, that you are not over-spending the budget. They are looking at expenses and services and not the bigger picture,” Nelson says. “Once this is put in the frame of a benefit to the state, it opens it up to a much more collaborative way of working with the state.”

The shift from measuring activities to measuring outcomes should be welcomed by top-tier social service providers that have evidence-based, rigorously evaluated models for long-term positive behavior change in high-risk, high-cost populations. But accountability and measurement should also shake out non-performers. Agencies that deliver mixed results or low repayment rates for investors are not likely to be selected for follow-on pay-for-success contracts.

CEO is confident it can replicate the results from its earlier random-assignment evaluations. “There’s a risk we won’t, so we could suffer,” Nelson says. “If we don’t succeed, it’s going to be on the front page.”

Road Show

If it all sounds complicated, it is. In the summer of 2012, New York asked for proposals to take advantage of the U.S. Department of Labor money to test social impact bond financing for job training programs. Selected to design and manage the project, Social Finance identified CEO as the provider of choice. In April 2013, the state legislature agreed to double the length of the program from two years to four years, supplementing the federal funding with state money.

Brace Young, a former Goldman Sachs partner and chair of Social Finance’s board of directors, helped bring Bank of America on board. After several meetings, Andy Sieg, BofA’s head of global wealth and retirement solutions, told Young, “This is fascinating. I don’t know what it is, but I’m willing to dedicate a couple people from my team.”

Rockefeller Foundation, a leader in promoting the social impact bond model, agreed to provide a 10 percent first-loss guarantee for all but the philanthropic investors. That provided modest reassurance for investors but is far lower than the similar guarantees extended in other social impact bond offerings. “We didn’t want heavy-duty training wheels, but the market wasn’t ready for a completely naked vehicle,” says Palandjian of Social Finance.

Some of the negotiations were tough. CEO sought assurances its current donor list wouldn’t be cannibalized for the new investment vehicle. Investors wanted assurances that fickle future legislators wouldn’t renege on commitments. State officials sought a higher bar before payments are triggered. “You have to have a lot of room to make sure that even at the bar the investor is comfortable with, the state is saving a lot of money,” Palandjian adds.

Measurement is key. The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will evaluate a randomized control trial that compares the employment and recidivism outcomes of the 2,000 participants served by CEO with a control group referred by parole officers to traditional service providers. An independent validator, Chesapeake research associates, provides an additional layer of review.  (One complication: Members of the control group may enroll in CEO’s services through other channel, which can be accounted for in estimating the impact of the project using statistical methods; however, if the enrollment rate in the control group exceeds a threshold, evaluators can instead use a historical baseline to determine whether the conditions for repayment have been met.)  Investors will get quarterly updates on the project’s performance.

In all, it took 15 months to bring the many parties and moving parts together and finalize a 130-page contract between the state and Social Finance, with CEO as a subcontractor.

Through the fall of 2013, Bank of America arranged a series of meetings between clients, their financial advisors, and the Social Finance team to drum up interest in the private placement. The complicated financial vehicle was unfamiliar to most investors. The first question asked of Palandjian in almost all the meetings: “Can you tell me again how this works?” The second question was often, “How do you measure it?”

For Bank of America, devoting hundreds of hours to a tiny deal only made sense as a way to dip a toe in the water of impact investing, an emerging must-have practice area for all major wealth managers. BofA offered the social impact bond specifically to its private banking clients with more than $10 million in investable assets.

“Our clients want it,” concludes Surya Kolluri, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s managing director of policy and market planning. The 2014 U.S. Trust Wealth and Worth Survey found that half of high-net-worth investors consider environmental, social and governance (or ESG) issues to be an important part of investment decision-making. Kolluri says that over time, social impact bonds could become a key element of the “S” in ESG. That provides plenty of room for growth: BofA’s ESG investment platform represents approximately $8 billion in client assets.

“Was the investor investing because it was comparable to other private equity investments or because it was a better way to do social impact?” Kolluri says. “I would conclude that it was because it’s a better way to do social impact.”

The key selling point, he says, was “velocity,” the fact that the social impact bond could repay investors, who could then recirculate their money into additional social, or other, investments. “Velocity is an aha moment,” says Kolluri. “It’s very different than a grant in which the money is gone.”

Simply having that conversation helped BofA strengthen its relationships with clients. Financial advisors are eager for anything that enables them to differentiate themselves from the competition and get closer to clients and their families

“It’s not about share of wallet, it’s about share of mindset,” says Jackie VanderBrug, the U.S. Trust executive responsible for developing the firm’s sustainable investing strategy. “It’s going to be a very small percentage of their portfolio. But it’s going to be a big percentage of what they talk about around the Thanksgiving table with their grandkids.”

As investor interest grows, the pay-for-success model has the potential to scale up much more dramatically than either government spending or traditional charity. Already, more than $50 million in private capital in the U.S. has been mobilized through pay-for-success contracts targeting early childhood education in Utah and Chicago, as well as recidivism in Massachusetts and New York City, in addition to the New York state contract.

Since the first deal closed, New York has announced four finalists to its request for proposals for partners on additional pay-for-success initiatives in early childhood and child welfare, health care, and juvenile justice. CEO, Social Finance, and another California partner are pursuing an additional pay-for-success project in San Diego. “Any place where you can invest a dollar of prevention today to save more dollars downstream is an appropriate allocation,” Palandjian says.

More broadly, if the New York state deal signals a wave of private investment in social impact bonds, it could usher in something like a new social contract, aligning private capital and the common good. In an earlier era, proven approaches, often developed by nonprofits, could be taken to scale by government agencies that would implement them more broadly. With public budgets under severe constraint, private funding needs to fill the gap. Once the savings are proven with private investment at risk, government can incorporate the solutions into normal budget processes.

“In the global financial crisis, taxpayer funds bailed out some large financial institutions,” Palandjian says. Social impact bonds flip that paradigm on its head. “Here, risks are privatized and gains are socialized. That’s a new model, one harnessing private capital to serve the public good.”


This article was produced with support from Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and is included in the report, “The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the U.S.” 

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Tipping Point awards tip toward growth

One of these years, I swear, Miss Bigelow will persuade Daniel Lurie to change his Tipping Point Awards Breakfast to a lunch.

That said, it was a good thing my alarm was double-set last week, as I almost nailed the 8 a.m. arrival time at the St. Regis Hotel, where three grantees of this poverty-fighting organization founded by Lurie were honored at the eighth annual awards ceremony.

Especially as some generous guest, whose name we were unable to wrest from Lurie, whispered in his ear that if Lurie did not yet have a match donation, this donor would provide a dollar-for-dollar million-dollar match if TP supporters raised the same amount by Dec. 31.

On the podium: Center for Employment Opportunities CEO Sam Schaeffer and business manager Theresa Castor; Anne Kirwan, Bay Area managing director for Upwardly Global, and former client Siavash Fahimi; and Reading Partners CEOMichael Lombardo with teacher Emily Rosa and student Sione Laulea.

“I was nervous to go to Reading Partners,” said Sione, a fourth-grader at the Oakland public charter school Learning WithoutLimits College Preparatory Academy.

“But the best thing I learned was having faith in myself.”

Each of these Tipping Point grantee organizations received a $50K boost for their efforts in the fight to improve the lives of those who struggle to meet such basic needs as shelter, educational opportunities and employment.

And John Amster, CEO and co-founder of RPX Corp., was honored for joining SF Gives, the antipoverty initiative formed by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and administered by Tipping Point, which tasks 20 corporations to contribute a minimum of $500K to fund Bay Area charitable programs.

“San Francisco is an amazing place of opportunity and prosperity,” said Sara Recktenwald, Goldman Sachs managing director. “But what inspired me to to join Tipping Point’s Leadership Council is that 1 in 5 people here live in poverty, and basic needs like living with your mom or having a bowl of food just aren’t available to everyone in the Bay Area.”

Also among fans: TP board members including Ronnie Lott, Kate Harbin-Clammer, Alec Perkins, David Lamond,Chris James, Katie Paige, Zachary Bogue, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Jed York, along with Doris Fisher; JaMeland Tom Perkins; Jon Gruber; Pam and Larry Baer; Jonathan Moscone; Hosain Rahman and Alicia Engstrom; and Lurie’s wife, Becca Prowda; mom, Mimi Haas; and dad, Rabbi Brian Lurie.

Lombardo, a Cal grad who hails from Michigan, spoke about his love for education that was fostered by his father. And since landing in 2006 as CEO of Reading Partners, an early literacy program that works in partnership with public schools, he’s developed the organization from six Silicon Valley schools to more than 40 school districts serving some 9,000 students nationwide.

Yet the literacy stats of the largest city in Lombardo’s home state, where roughly only 47 percent of adults can read, trouble him.

“San Francisco may be a place of prosperity of innovation,” he said. “But if you look at our public schools, the future of San Francisco does not look bright. It looks like Detroit.”

And Lurie admitted to feeling uncomfortable when his barber recently declared that San Francisco is no longer a place where just anyone can arrive and seek opportunity.

He also cited research showing that when people walk by homeless people on the street, the area in their brain that lights up is one that registers an object.

“That means we are no longer seeing the homeless as people,” Lurie said. “In almost 10 years of doing this work, I know change can take time.”

Yet time seems to be on his side: Since founding TP in 2005, Lurie has grown his organization to fund 47 Bay Area grantees that challenge the social ills caused by poverty. He and his deep-pocketed board, which funds every penny of TP operating costs, have raised some $80 million in thoseyears.

Recently they launched T Lab, an R&D investment plan that pairs nine innovators who map new methods to assist organizations that promote the areas of post-prison societal re-entry, early education and child care. Yet the success of his organization is not a complete surprise.

“When I worked at Robin Hood in New York, I experienced firsthand how to successfully raise funds to effect change,” said Lurie. “But even with our growth, I realize we’re just scratching the surface to eradicate the social ills caused by poverty. Much work remains for us. But I’m humbled by the support we’ve received and even more determined that we can advance more improvements for our community.”

Oh, and save the date: On April 30, Tipping Point will celebrate its 10th anniversary at its annual gala, wherein they hope to top up their funding to a record $100 million.

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Up and Down the SIB Road: How Far Have We Come?


By Catalina Geib and Rita Perakis on 12/4/14

There is no denying that interest in Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) is steadily growing: with investments coming from big banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and approximately 26 SIBs implemented in industrialized countries across the globe (see below for a more detailed listing), an evidence base is starting to accumulate on what works and what doesn’t. So far, the evidence on Social Impact Bonds – that they enable innovation and improve service delivery through better use of data – suggests that this approach has huge potential for improving international development programs.

CGD has been exploring through its work on Development Impact Bonds the ways in which the SIB model, first piloted in the UK, could be tested in developing countries and could create a better business model for the way programs operate.  While DIBs are a new concept – so far only one has been launched in June of this year with service provision to begin next year – the SIB market has been gradually growing since the launch of the first SIB in 2010. The evidence gathered over the next few years will determine whether SIBs can catapult to being a standard option for funding programs in the social sectors.

This was part of the discussion at a launch event hosted at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) in London on the 31st  of October, where BAML and Bridges Ventures presented their joint publication“Choosing Social Impact Bonds – A practitioner’s guide”. The report shares lessons learned during SIB implementation processes over the last four years. Although no SIBs have been completed and fully evaluated yet, clear emerging lessons arise from several pilots that can be applied to future SIBs and DIBs. We have discerned two key takeaways:

1) SIBs increase the scope for innovation in service delivery

A focus on outcomes and a flexible funding model are proving to trigger an increase in the scope for innovation. The BAML-Bridges Ventures report highlights two examples from the UK in particular: In Greater Manchester, the UK Department for Work and Pensions Innovation Fund has commissioned a SIB with the “Teens and Toddlers” program. Although Teens and Toddlers has already developed a track record for increasing self-esteem and tackling disengagement among youths by pairing teenagers with toddlers, its reach and impact expanded under the SIB, as Social Finance UK, the intermediary in this case, further discuss in this report of the SIB’s first year.

The Teens and Toddlers program initially involved working with teenagers for 18 weeks, through nursery placements and personal development group work to help them acquire a sense of direction, positive relationships and responsibility. For the SIB in particular, a second stage was added which applies skills teenagers have learned to school behavior and academic studies, and tracks teenagers’ progress through to their secondary school exams. In Stage 2, students set learning and behavioral goals and address issues that could impact their academic performance. The SIB provided sufficient room to establish and innovate the program to include specific educational outcomes; in addition, the flexible funding model allowed the provision of a sub-contractor who would tutor students in English and in Maths to guarantee the best outcomes.

The second example, in Essex, implemented by “Action for Children” together with Social Finance UK and Essex County Council, utilizes the Multi – Systemic Therapy (MST) intervention method. This method is applied to prevent children aged 11-17 in Essex who show anti-social or offending behavior from going into care by providing therapeutic support to them and their families, throughout weekends and overnight where necessary. The intervention focuses on positive behaviors and strengths of the young person and family to encourage long-lasting change. Like “Teens and Toddlers”, MST is an evidence-based program with a good track record and global footprint, but it had not been implemented on a wide scale in the UK. When the SIB was developed, Essex County Council was hesitant to fund a new and intensive program upfront while resources for children’s services were constrained. Under the SIB, investors provided the financing for a five and half year intervention program that aims to work with 380 young people, while Essex County agreed to only paying for successful results. The SIB also includes an “Evolution Fund”, which is a discretionary fund that gives the NGO service provider the flexibility to incorporate new services into the program, if needed, to address individuals’ needs (see this report for more details about how the SIB is working).

The most important aspect of increased innovation under SIBs is therefore that local service providers are implementing changes themselves, but receiving flexible funding in order to be able to do so. This is also true in the case of DIBs. According to Robin Horn, Head of Education at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the outcome funder for the first DIB, “the local service provider has the main say and outcomes are not just based on the knowledge of funders.”

2) Better data collection leads to improving service delivery

SIBs are also showing that better data management systems – implemented to ensure objective validations of outcomes – have led to an improvement in service delivery. David Robinson, chair of the One Service Social Impact Bond Advisory Group for the Peterborough SIB, explained that following the SIB model has planted an incentive structure for an improved dataset service. Typically, service providers or intermediaries who manage service providers develop improved data systems to track performance in a timely and accurate way. For example, during the course of the intervention period of the Peterborough SIB, it became clear that the cohort’s reoffending behavior greatly depended on unresolved mental health issues. This led to the implementation of mental health services, which were not a part of the original package of interventions. Effective use of data – orlearning by measuring –proves to be at the heart of things.

Another recent example from the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), the service provider of the SIB to reduce recidivism in the State of New York, shows a similar development: data is collected regularly on an individual level and, as a result of weekly calls between CEO and parole officers who identify eligible individuals, a new forum for sharing data materialized and once again services were able to more quickly respond to peoples’ needs. The report highlights interviews with people directly involved who say that these improved systems and improved coordination have been transformative for the government and the service provider.

These key takeaways are a good reminder about why partners from various sectors came together to implement SIBs in the first place. As the BAML guide mentions, the cross-sector partnerships prove to be one of the most encouraging aspects of a SIB: they have created an on-going dialogue about the best way to tackle pressing socio-economic issues, with each partner doing what it does best.

The DIB market is younger, but lessons are beginning to emerge from early experiences in the development of DIBs too; a range of partners who have been involved will be taking stock at aconference in London on December 10th.

The fact that SIB partners are taking advantage of expanded space for innovation and improved data collection systems is a good reminder that we can improve development programs on these dimensions too, and one reason why we hope to see DIBs quickly implemented.

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Tipping Point Community Holds Eighth Annual Awards Breakfast

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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Three Bay Area nonprofits working to create opportunities for thousands of individuals and families to break the cycle of poverty were honored at Tipping Point Community’s 8th Annual Awards Breakfast this morning.

“After almost 10 years of doing this work, I remain an optimist,” said Daniel Lurie, Tipping Point Founder + CEO. “Last year our grantees served more than 133,000 people. But programs like these don’t just change one life – they change entire families and communities. They stop a cycle of poverty in its tracks.”

Center for Employment Opportunities, Reading Partners and Upwardly Global were recognized this morning for their service to Bay Area residents and each honoree received a grant of $50,000. Tipping Point also honored the 20 founding partners of SF Gives for their leadership and commitment to invest $10 million in life-changing services for the 1.3 million Bay Area residents too poor to meet their basic needs. Tipping Point Board members Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Zachary Bogue and Leadership Council member Sara Recktenwald were on hand to present the awards.

The 2014 Tipping Point grantee honorees:
“This morning there are seven million children in the U.S. waking up with a parent in prison, jail or on supervision, and those children are about 6 times more likely to end up in the justice system themselves,” said Sam Shaeffer, CEO of Center for Employment Opportunities. “There is a lot that can make you hesitant about committing your career to prisoner reentry. Numbers, especially. The statistics can be overwhelming and discouraging. But they also make you feel like you have to do something.”

“To land a job in the U.S. especially, it’s not a linear approach,” said Siavash Fahimi, a former Upwardly Global client. “It’s not one decision that leads you to a job. It’s a combination of so many different things, meeting different people. Without Upwardly Global, it would have been trial and error. It would have taken so much time…time that I did not have to spare.”

“At Reading Partners, our goal is simple: to close the 4th grade reading achievement gap,” said Michael Lombardo, CEO + Founder of Reading Partners. “We do that by unleashing the slumbering giant of human capital that is volunteer service in America to provide an army of tutors for children struggling with reading.”

The 2014 Tipping Point partner honoree:
SF Gives started as a 60-day $10 million corporate challenge launched by Tipping Point and 20 leading local businesses to fight poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area. The founding members are Apple, Box, Comcast Ventures, Dropbox, Google, IfOnly, Jawbone, Jelly, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lookout, Microsoft, Okta, Partner Fund Management, POPSUGAR, RPX Corporation, Salesforce Foundation, SV Angel, Workday Foundation, and

About Tipping Point Community: Since 2005, Tipping Point Community has raised more than $80 million to educate, employ, house and support nearly 365,000 Bay Area people in need. Tipping Point screens nonprofits rigorously to find, fund and partner with the most promising organizations helping low-income people achieve self-sufficiency. 100% of every dollar donated fights

SOURCE Tipping Point Community


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Connecting Talent With a Greater Purpose: It Matters


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From the perspective of a nonprofit, finding smart, passionate, and talented people to work with you for free is a clear win. But why do professionals engage in skills-based volunteering and pro bono projects? The growth of opportunities to engage with a cause in low-effort, high visibility ways via micro-donations and social media shares should consistently push goodwill to the path of least resistance, away from deep, intensive interactions like pro bono. Engaging in a pro bono project to create a marketing plan or a new website for a nonprofit is the practical opposite of hashtag activism. It requires significant, real effort and personal commitment from a volunteer, with limited visibility or virality.

Yet, despite all that, there is a growing trend among professionals who volunteer, not just their time, but also their skills to help build capacity among nonprofit and other for-purpose organizations. The need has been consistently pervasive, a survey from Deloitte in 2006 showed that 77% of nonprofits believe their business practices would benefit from skilled volunteers. Meanwhile the willingness among volunteers is startlingly high. 82% of surveyed Linkedin members indicated a desire to volunteer their time and skills and 70% of Millennials consider “giving back and being civically engaged” their highest priority. Online tools such as Catchafire, Taproot+, npowerand VolunteerMatch have made it easier than ever for these passionate people and organizations to find each other, and a budding movement around skills-based volunteering (or “pro bono”) has formed.

The incredible thing about skills-based volunteering is it creates a range of social, emotional and professional benefits for volunteers. Enabling an organization you care about to feed more families, mentor more children or open access to the arts by leveraging your unique skills has a massive ROI; the increase in impact of skills-based volunteering vastly exceeds the increase in effort by spending 20 or 30 hours with an organization. Beyond the warm fuzzies, volunteers see additional benefits by honing their professional skills in real-life settings (practice does make perfect) and building meaningful relationships with people and organizations they may not otherwise encounter.

So what’s the role of an employer in this space? How and why should a company care about volunteering activities of their employees, any more than they would care where they go on vacation, or what movies they see? As one would expect when employees volunteer, especially on skills-based volunteer projects, employers reap their own rewards:

Community Impact. Increasingly, communities expect the companies that operate within them to behave as good citizens. Employees play a dual role as both members of a community and representatives of their employers. Skills-based volunteering serves as natural a bridge between these two worlds. When the creatives at MTV networks brought their talents and passions to the Center for Employment Opportunities, it generalized and expanded the value of what they do every day in a new, community driven context. The ROI is similarly compelling. At Catchafire, we typically see a 15 to 30X ROI in impact vs. the cost of creating and delivering these programs.

Employee Engagement. When employees work on the same things, day-in, day-out, it becomes easy to lose sight of the real value of your work. The Gallup organization found that 70% of workers are that “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Our internal findings at Catchafire have shown that volunteers undervalue their contributions relative to the nonprofits who receive them, by as much as 30%. Applying your job skills in a new context, with an organization that really benefits can breath new life into an employee’s perspective and put a spring back in their step on Monday morning.

Employee Development. Skills-based volunteering and pro bono projects present a fantastic opportunity for on-the-job training in a unique context. By developing SBV programs companies can significantly expand the options for their employees to stretch their skills and show instead of tell why they are ready for a promotion or new role. Leading companies such as IBM, are even encouraging employees to fulfill professional development requirements via volunteering, creating unique, tailored and engaging opportunities to achieve impact while supporting the bottom line.

Companies with these objectives in mind can do a number of things to get started with skills-based volunteering and pro bono. Organizations like Taproot, npower, Common Impact, Catchafire and others directly create these opportunities for corporate partners across a variety of flavors. Foundations and other grant-makers can also serve as excellent thought partners to develop smart direct relationships with their grantees. Many companies, such as NetSuite also directly link their own corporate philanthropy efforts with pro bono, soliciting employee volunteers to both scope and develop project ideas and execute those projects. The best thing to do is to get started. The case for skills-based volunteering is strong and the need is significant. Companies that engage will see happier, more effective employees and build stronger communities for them, all at a low cost with big impact.




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WNYers keep close eye on creek levels

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Fear and anxiety are far from over, even though the snow has ended in South Buffalo and the southtowns. People in the hard hit areas are anxious and worried about the possibility of flooding.

Residents are keeping a close eye on creeks, Monday.  The mayor deployed the Center for Employment Opportunities to help shovel out elderly citizens.

The organization’s senior supervisor says they have a couple dozen people out shoveling, working to help people who’ve been stuck in their homes. They’ve been out for the past few days to provide aid to those who can’t physically do it themselves.

“It’s so gratifying to help an elderly person out that’s stuck in the house. Some of the couldn’t even get out of their doors the snow was so high. Just to do that and then they can get out of the house, it’s like a thing of security for them, they’re very appreciative of us,” said Lonnie Angel, of the Center for Employment Opportunities.

South Buffalo resident Jay Burney said, “It’s a pretty frightening scene. We’ve been expecting this flood and it looks like the creek is rising, I haven’t heard the last predictions if it’s going to continue to rise, rain may be coming, snow continues to melt, it’s a scary situation.”

Low-lying homes are in danger of flooding from the Buffalo Creek. Officials and National Guardsmen have laid down almost 1,000 sandbags in the neighborhood of Lexington Green, in West Seneca.

The creek is already known for its ice jamming problems and last year local residents dealt with monstrous flooding. However, they are extremely happy with the strong military response they’ve received.

Some even got emotional when describing it.

Larry Miceli said, “I can’t come up with the words to express the gratitude that I’m feeling for the National Guardsmen who are coming to sandbag our windows.”

“We’re just very thankful for all the support we’ve been receiving and it’s just awful to think this might happen again,” a resident explained.

An emergency response team from West Seneca is staking out Buffalo Creek at the Stevenson Foot Bridge. Two people were standing by all night, to gauge the water levels. They are watching for an ice jam, which could back up and flood west Seneca.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has explained there are dozens of boats, pumps, sand bags to respond to potential emergencies. He said they’re a precautionary measure, noting he hopes they don’t need to use the tools they’ve brought in. Officials have brought materials from the following list to several staging areas, one of which is Erie Community College’s north campus.

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13 Nonprofits Get Grants to Encourage Openness in Philanthropy

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November 20, 2014

By Debra E. Blum
A new, seven-foundation partnership created to support nonprofits working to collect feedback and be more effective today announced its first round of grants.

The Fund for Shared Insight has awarded 13 organizations a total of $5.26-million in 14 separate grants of one to three years, designed “to accelerate the culture of listening” among nonprofits, according to Melinda Tuan, a spokesman for the group.

A news release says the grants are intended “to encourage and incorporate feedback from the people the social sector seeks to help; understand the connection between feedback and better results; foster more openness between and among foundations and grantees; and share lessons.”

The biggest single award—$700,000 for one year—will go to GlobalGiving, an online fundraising site that connects donors with development projects overseas. Ms. Tuan says the money will support GlobalGiving’s efforts to build, test, and share new tools to help nonprofits collect feedback from their constituents. One example is Global Giving’s Storytelling Project, an effort to learn what residents of other countries think about the nonprofits that serve them.

Habitat for Humanity International, among the largest charities to receive a grant, was awarded $600,000 for up to three years to improve and systematize the way it gathers and uses feedback from residents in the 220 U.S. communities where it works.

Keystone Accountability, a nonprofit consultant that developed Constituent Voice, a feedback tool used by many organizations (including at least a handful of the other grantees), will get $300,000 to develop Feedback Commons, an effort to openly share resources and research among nonprofits.

The Fund for Shared Insight, created in July, is a collaboration among the Rita Allen, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, JPB, W.K. Kellogg, and David and Lucile Packard Foundations, along with the charitable arm of Liquidnet, a financial trading company. Together, the organizations have committed $18-million over three years, with plans to give away at least $5-million to $6-million a year, or more if additional grant makers join.

The fund, which received nearly 200 proposals for its first round of grants, plans to provide individualized feedback to all rejected applicants—that pledge, it said, was part of how it hoped to show grant makers ways to promote openness about decision making. It also plans to circulate a survey to get applicants’ views on the grants process and ideas on how to improve it.

The additional grantees announced today are: The Center for Employment Opportunity, Feedback Labs, LIFT, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (for its YouthTruth project and for separate research), Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, a joint project by the Urban Institute and Feeding America, Creative Commons, Exponent Philanthropy, the Foundation Center, and GiveWell.

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Another Voice: Workforce development plays key role in job market


By Jeffrey M. Conrad

A recent Buffalo News article highlighted the need for skilled workers in Buffalo’s growing economy. The article aptly stated that our educational institutions will play a critical role in preparing students for tomorrow’s job market. However, our next workforce is years from entering the job market. Industries such as health care, advanced manufacturing, construction and tourism are expanding now, creating an immediate need for trained and skilled workers. Workforce development can and should play a pivotal role in meeting today’s workforce needs.

The economic development boom we are experiencing translates into jobs, and for workforce development agencies this means opportunities. Often times the “next big job market” simply never arrives, thus wasting time and money. However, this time is different, the jobs are here and many more are on the way. There is no guessing game, thanks to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development, which developed regional priorities that will provide the Buffalo area with opportunities for high-paying jobs for years to come.

There is no doubt that our region will be able to fill some of these jobs through many of the 8,000 college students that graduate locally each year, or through displaced Buffalonians who want to return home. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that there is a large constituency of undereducated, less-skilled workers currently living in poverty in the City of Buffalo who can benefit tremendously from current job opportunities. A large majority of these residents want to enter or re-enter the workplace, and many more incumbent workers are hoping to make a transition to these higher-paying jobs.

However, many residents are not sure how to gain access to these sectors, nor do they know what services or trainings are available.

Disconnect between residents and stakeholders is just one of several barriers that prohibit job seekers from finding gainful employment. Transportation, low literacy and math skills, and no money for vocational training are additional obstacles for many wishing to advance. All of these barriers can be remedied if the NFTA, the private sector, adult education and workforce development agencies come to the table and build a system that works for our regional needs. Today’s economic boom is a chance for Buffalo to reinvent itself.

This is not just about filling jobs; there are much larger impacts both socially and governmentally attached to building an effective workforce development system. Buffalo’s poverty statistics are very concerning, but most should be alleviated by providing ample opportunity for all residents who want to benefit from today’s progress.

Jeffrey M. Conrad is regional director of the Center for Employment Opportunities.

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Buffalo Bills Discounted Tickets Sale to Support CEO

The Buffalo Bills and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County have extended an opportunity for for Bills fans to not only obtain discounted tickets for the Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns game on November 30, 2014 at 1:00pm but also to support the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).  A portion of every ticket purchased using the offer below will allow fans and supporters to deep discounts on tickets. CEO is very thankful to the Bills and the United Way for this opportunity! Please feel free to forward this to family, friends, and post on social media.
As always thank you for your support! Go Bills!Click here to buy: Offer code is GPUW

Buffalo Bills Fundraising Offer
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