THE BLOG

Social Innovation Fund Transforming Accountability

02/09/2015 11:07 am ET | Updated Apr 11, 2015

The Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service is transforming how we approach society's challenges, measure outcomes and hold providers accountable when they use public and private resources.

We are in the midst of observing National Social Innovation Fund Week, focusing on what has been achieved so far through this far-reaching initiative.

The Social Innovation Fund unites public and private resources to evaluate and grow innovative community-based solutions that produce results in low-income areas. Their work stresses data-driven, evidence-based solutions and emphasizes three concentrations: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.

Since its inception, the Social Innovation Fund and their private-sector partners have invested close to $750 million dollars in compelling community solutions across the nation.

CSH is actively engaged with the national Social Innovation Fund on two of our major undertakings: The CSH Social Innovation Fund and our Pay for Success programs.

With the backing of the national Social Innovation Fund, CSH is promoting stable housing with access to integrated healthcare for individuals with high levels of medical fragility. We are testing groundbreaking supportive housing models addressing the health, housing, and social service needs of homeless individuals struggling with complex challenges who also are the highest-cost users of crisis health services.

Supportive housing is a data-driven, evidence-based solution we know works to end homelessness and improve lives because the housing and services are so closely coordinated and tailored to the needs of the residents. Supportive housing has attracted the attention of the national Social Innovation Fund because outcomes are matching the promise.

By zeroing in on the close links between housing and healthcare, CSH aims to show how supportive housing can break the expensive cycle that sees homeless people repeatedly encounter institutional systems - hospital emergency rooms, detox centers - without any marked improvement in their long-term health and stability. These men and women are often referred to as the 5:50 population - the 5% of beneficiaries who represent 50% of the costs - and their disproportionate share of resources is due to the fact that homelessness exacerbates health issues, limits access to care, and inhibits healthy behaviors.

Our CSH Pay for Success also is firmly rooted in demonstrating results.

Pay for Success bonds (aka Pay for Success contracts and Social Impact Bonds) build on innovative public-private financing to promote projects and programs that perform based on meaningful, well-established and known metrics. For too long, funding formulas for programs centered on the number of people served, not whether their lives were improving. As part of a bipartisan push to use taxpayer dollars more effectively and embrace what is making a difference, Pay for Success was launched to transform how we track progress, enforce accountability, and make funding decisions.

CSH is encouraging communities to explore Pay for Success to spur the creation of supportive housing to help vulnerable populations.

Pay for Success is designed to tackle persistent community challenges by partnering nonprofits and the public sector with philanthropic and private sector investors to create incentives for service providers to deliver better outcomes at lower cost--producing the highest return for taxpayers. The bottom line is simple: Investors pay for results, not promises.

This creative formula is a win for everyone involved. Consumers receive better services that actually help them; governments can save money; private and nonprofit investors boost communities they care about; and taxpayers see results.

As we mark National Social Innovation Fund Week, we applaud the progress and commend the federal government for promoting groundbreaking solutions, and raising the bars on accountability and outcomes.