In the midst of a global pandemic, rising unemployment and economic instability, it is ongoing racial injustice that has propelled the civil unrest we have all witnessed over the past few weeks. “The painful and frustrating reality is that all the children are not well. In too many instances, Black children are not well.” The next Black child to die due to the color of their skin could easily be one of the children whom we at ICS are committed to serving and advocating on behalf of today.
Last month, the Institute for Child Success, ReadyNation, and the Sorenson Impact Center hosted the Third Annual Conference of the Early Childhood Social Impact Performance Advisors in Denver. The event convened nearly 300 advocates, policymakers, researchers, and funders to discuss trends and developments in using Pay for Success to expand early childhood opportunities, and chart a path forward. ICS Executive Vice President has discussed the conference in the context of opportunities in the Pay for Success field in a new blog with our colleagues at America Forward.
The timing of the conference was opportune – the same week, the House of Representatives passed a landmark PFS bill that would provide more than $100 million in support for such programs, with $50 million designated for early childhood (learn more). This enthusiasm at the federal level was reflected in the opening comments from Dave Wilkinson, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, who noted the opportunities PFS provides for innovation: “We know if we don’t try anything new, we won’t improve,” he said. “The responsible choice is to try promising concepts on a small scale and roll them out gradually if they work.” You can read more about his comments, and day one, on this blog.
Dave Wilkinson of the White House Office for Social Innovation.
For the full gallery of Conference photos, view our Facebook album
Day 2 kicked off with a high-level discussion of recent PFS projects in the early childhood space and a frank discussion of the challenges and opportunities in constructing such projects as well as a conversation about the perspectives of funders in existing PFS projects. The rest of the day offered the opportunity for in-depth breakout sessions on a range of issues, including the Evaluation and Research Track supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. More reflections are available on our blog from day two.
Navjeet Bal (Social Finance), Christian Soura (S.C. Department of Health and Human Services), Roxane White (Nurse-Family Partnership) and Emily Gustafsson-Wright (Brookings Institution).
The final day of the conference featured additional breakout sessions on PFS in early childhood, as well as rallying farewell remarks from Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston. Sen. Johnston is an advocate for PFS in the state of Colorado, and also understands that the importance of early childhood programs goes well beyond dollars and cents. He told the audience a story about his children’s love for a book about Helen Keller. His youngest child responded to hearing a line in the book about Keller being “deaf, blind and dumb,” by saying: “Daddy, Helen Keller wasn’t dumb.” Indeed she wasn’t, but she had lost the ability to speak, he said. “We are working to support kids all across the country that … have lost their voice,” the senator continued. “Give them their voice back.” More details on the final day are available in this concluding blog.
On Wednesday morning, before the conference officially kicked off, 17 members of ICS’s four PFS technical assistance jurisdictions (Orange County, the City of Tempe, the City of Evansville, and Tennessee) gathered for training and discussion in a pre-session. ICS provides this technical assistance as a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund – you can learn more about this work here. The pre-session included presentations from the jurisdictions themselves, an interactive learning activity that guided the group through the process of identifying PFS-suitable outcomes, and a presentation from the Nonprofit Finance Fund that provided details about a service provider training opportunity. In addition, three of our past technical assistance jurisdictions joined to form a panel discussions about lessons learned, and what happens post-feasibility.
While the conference is ICS’s flagship Pay for Success event each year, we encourage interested parties to learn more all year round!
We encourage attendees to connect with those they met in breakout sessions.
The conference Resource Document contains links to recommended reading from our conference presenters. It’s a great guide for those who attended the conference as well as those looking for a primer on specific issues in early childhood Pay for Success.
See what others were talking about during the conference on the #sif4ec, or check out highlights in this Storify.
You can learn more about the technical assistance we provide, supported by the Social Innovation Fund, get up to date on all PFS projects in the U.S., and access templates to use in your own PFS planning.
The Institute for Child Success team wrapping up the Third Annual conference!