Giving Service Providers An Edge: The Sonoma County Service Provider Readiness Accelerator Training

By Mary Garvey, Associate Director, Pay for Success Financing

October 21st marked the start of a two-day training for service providers in Sonoma County, CA. In partnership with Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), ICS offered the training to one of four jurisdictions as part of our Pay for Success technical assistance initiative. Sonoma County was selected based on both their interest in and need for the assistance, as well as their overwhelming dedication to the feasibility study process thus far. Twelve service provider organizations participated. Among those represented were United Way of Wine Country, Petaluma Health Center, and the Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4C’s).  All organizations focused on children from birth (or the prenatal stage) to age five. Over the course of the two days, 34 individual service providers participated; as many as 20 participants attended each day.

Sonoma County’s Service Provider Readiness Accelerator Training provided bootcamp-style coaching with a focus on managing outcomes, scaling effectively, and financial management. The end goal was to prepare service providers to be ready and competitive in an increasingly outcome-based financing world. Therefore, while not specific to Pay for Success, this training certainly helps prepare for a PFS financing model.

There were many highlights. Participants posed an array of good and difficult questions, leading to very open and honest discussions. Despite some apprehension about PFS, the group unanimously saw value in the training. Evaluations were outstanding, and several organizations reached out to NFF either during or after the training to request another localized, in-depth training for their staff members. In addition, during our most recent site visit, a member of Sonoma County’s Funder’s Circle commented that several organizations contacted her to tell her about the quality of the Service Provider Accelerator Training.

One key takeaway underscored the difference between data collection for the purpose of compliance versus data collection to inform strategy. The service providers present were very much interested in using data collection for strategy, and did a lot of work to that end. Next steps include additional follow-up and coaching via phone. We are excited to continue working with NFF to offer this training to our TA jurisdictions in the future, giving service providers an edge in an increasingly outcome-driven world.

ICS is accepting applications for its next round of Pay for Success technical assistance jurisdictions. To learn more, please visit our competition page.

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