Resources to Results: Washington State Pay for Success Symposium

Pay for Success (PFS) projects call for an ongoing dialogue with multiple community stakeholders. Two PFS feasibility studies, supported through grants from the the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund, are underway in Washington State: Department of Early Learning and Thrive Washington study, and Health Care Authority study. To begin this dialogue in Washington, Third Sector worked with partners to host an educational convening for interested stakeholders to learn more about PFS. The November 18th event included panels with experts involved in the launched PFS projects in Chicago, Salt Lake City and Santa Clara County, as well as federal government officials working on PFS around the country.

120 attendees from the non-profit, philanthropic, and government sectors participated in the event. Attendees asked questions, voiced concerns and listened together. Three themes emerged from the day:

  • While initial interest in PFS may come from many different angles, panelists discussed the goal to do better for populations in need. Panelists described the long road that many early PFS projects blazed, from the initial interest in PFS through a launch, taking several years. Some pursued PFS to scale up strong interventions, others were interested in evaluations measuring outcomes rather than outputs, while others wanted to disrupt the typical process for government funding. However, all were sustained during the process by focusing on improving services for the most vulnerable people in their jurisdictions.
  • Data was raised as a major challenge of the PFS feasibility and construction process, but also one of the most important and lasting legacies of projects. Panelists used the evaluation component of their projects to collect more data on programs and those served, link data sets across government departments to measure outcomes and invest in data infrastructure. Attendees were interested in how capacity building around data could be advanced.
  • Transparency is key. Panelists described the necessity of gathering all stakeholders in the same room, and learning to speak each other’s language. They found that educational meetings and fact sheets helped their communities feel engaged. Finally, while the impact of social services are not always shared with the public, their PFS projects are reporting results on a regular basis.

Though the details of a PFS project in Washington are still being explored, many who attended the event called for this dialogue to continue. This is just one example of how PFS can facilitate the cross-sector collaboration necessary to improve social outcomes throughout the US.

Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. is a proud grantee of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund. Learn more at

Panels Featured:

Sam Whiting, Thrive Washington

Ross Hunter, Department of Early Learning

Jeff Clarke, Philanthropy Northwest

Ian Galloway, Federal Reserve of San Francisco

Annelise Grimm , James Irvine Foundation

Deborah Kasemeyer, Northern Trust

Andrea Phillips, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group

David Wilkinson, White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation

Caroline Whistler, Third Sector Capital Partners

Louis Chicoine, Abode Services

Brenda Van Gorder, Granite School District, Salt Lake City

Fraser Nelson, Salt Lake County

Greta Hansen, County of Santa Clara

David Willis, US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Megan Golden, Institute for Child Success

Angus Mairs, Home Visiting Services Account Project

Nathan Johnson, Policy Manager, Health Care Authority

Blog post written by Emily Fabiaschi and Priya Shah.