Practice to Policy: The Top 10 Ways America Forward has Shaped Pay for Success and Evidence-Based Policy in 10 Years

This year, America Forward celebrates 10 years of collective advocacy work. As we celebrate this important milestone and lay the foundation for what the next 10 years hold, we are chronicling the impact that America Forward and our Coalition of 70 organizations have had using our practical experiences to shift federal policy to reward results, incentivize innovation, catalyze cross-sector partnerships, and advance equity. Here are the top 10 ways America Forward has shaped Pay for Success, social innovation, evidence-based policies over the past decade and helped to transform #Practice2Policy.

  1. In 2013, America Forward launched the America Forward Coalition Pay for Success Task Force to develop a comprehensive policy platform that advances the idea that government needs to incentivize innovation and bring a greater focus on using evidence to drive what our public dollars fund so that we more effectively and efficiently steward these limited taxpayer dollars to measurably improve the lives of all Americans.
  2. America Forward’s leadership in this policy space began even before the formal launch of this Task Force with our advocacy efforts to support the development and passage in 2009 of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Serve America Act contained authority for a new program, the Social Innovation Fund, that granted funding to existing grant-making institutions, and later Pay for Success intermediaries, to direct resources to innovative community-based organizations and to test Pay for Success approaches.
  3. In addition to the Social Innovation Fund, America Forward influenced the inclusion of a Pay for Success pilot in the Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grant program. The WIF was created to cultivate and test innovative approaches to workforce training and encourage the replication of evidence-based practices in the workforce development field. With our advocacy, $20 Million was made available through the second round of WIF funding to pilot Pay for Success in the financing of workforce investment projects.
  4. America Forward was directly involved in developing, advocating for, and ensuring the ultimate passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014. This transformative and innovative piece of legislation was the first major update to the workforce development system since 1998 and made significant changes to our federal workforce and job training programs, including an America-Forward-led provision authorizing Pay for Performance contracting in all three formula funding streams and within the Governor’s Reserve authority.
  5. In 2015, America Forward helped champion the inclusion of Pay for Success authorizing language, along with a reenvisioned innovation fund and evidence tiers in the Every Student Succeeds Act all in an effort to bring a greater focus on funding and scaling what works to deliver results for our nation’s students.
  6. America Forward was an early supporter of legislation that would ultimately create the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. A bipartisan effort, this body was charged with identifying practices and processes for ensuring the use of evidence and outcomes in the development of policies and in the funding of interventions at the federal level. At the conclusion of its work, Congress moved swiftly to enact key recommendations contained in the Commission’s final report and America Forward has been a key player in helping to build support for this legislation.
  7. Just this year, the America Forward Coalition achieved a significant legislative win with the passage of the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act. This piece of legislation, which the Coalition had been developing and advocating for since 2013, establishes a first-of-its-kind funding stream and structure to support and advance the implementation of Pay for Success contracting to impact federal outcomes and related costs—a critical win for the Pay for Success field and the overall evidence-based movement.
  8. America Forward also supported several other pieces of legislation and reauthorizations contained in the bill that included in the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act. With the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 on February 9, critical Pay for Success and evidence-based provisions became law or were reauthorized including the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and Family First Prevention Services Act.
  9. America Forward has led many briefings, webinars, and policy and advocacy training sessions to support our Pay for Success-focused Coalition and network members in building their capacity to engage in the policymaking process. This has included the development and execution of a Pay for Success network that meets bi-monthly to discuss the Pay for Success and evidence-based policy and practice space and to highlight activities happening at the federal, state, and local levels.
  10. Each year America Forward advocates for important Pay for Success, social innovation, and evidence-based priorities as part of the Federal budget and appropriations process and we support funding that for innovation and evaluation, the use of tiered-evidence approaches to target federal funding to programs that have greater evidence of effectiveness, and the inclusion of performance-based funding provisions to build the evidence base to ensure we know what is working and what does not before making drastic cuts to important programs that directly impact millions of children, youth, and adults across this country
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