Salt Lake City

Social Impact Bonds

Granite School District in Utah is expanding its preschool program for three and four-year-old children through a Social Impact Bond (Pay for Success model) financed by Goldman Sachs ($4.6 million) and the J.B. Pritzker Foundation ($2.4 million). Research in the school district was showing trends that children who attended Utah’s high quality preschool were less likely to need special education in elementary school. The investors will be repaid based on cost savings realized through fewer children being placed in special education.

The United Way of Salt Lake oversees the Preschool Project in the Granite and Park City School Districts and is responsible for managing repayments to the investors. Students who attend the preschool program will be followed through the sixth grade.

Children Under the Age of 5

%

Children Under the Age of 5 Living in Poverty

Children on the Waiting List for Preschool

%

Children from Low Income Families Who Would Have Likely Needed Special Education that Did Not After Participating in Public Preschool Program

Challenge

Engaging Local & State Policymakers in Complicated Financing Structure

With Wall Street involvement, gaining agreement from a legislature to enable private investors to partner with the state and local school districts was complicated.

Getting to Action

Voices for Utah began paving the way for a social impact financing project. Investors would be paid over a period of time, as children who otherwise might have been placed in special education were not. Janis Dubno, a Policy Analyst at Voices for Utah Children at the time, reviewed the longitudinal data. Her background as a financial analyst enabled her to understand the promise of preschool and the potential return on investment. The data led to a feasibility study, and she began talking to investors at Goldman Sachs about a potential social impact financing project. e data and feasibility study were critical to attract private investors for a “pay for success” project.

2010Voices for Utah Children, the Granite School District and United Way of Salt Lake identified a potential social impact financing project.
June 2013Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker announced loans to be distributed through the United Way of Salt Lake.
July 16, 2013 The Salt Lake County Council approved $350,000 to assist with “success payments.”
Fall 2013Preschool slots offered to an additional 600 children.
April 2014State legislature approved HB96, enabling private investors to partner with the state in preschool initiatives.

Results

In September of 2013, the Utah High Quality Preschool Program began delivering an evidence-based curriculum to increase school readiness among three and four-year old children. As a result of entering kindergarten better prepared, it is expected that fewer children will use special education and remedial services in kindergarten through 12th grade, which will result in cost savings for school districts, the State of Utah and other government entities. Private capital from Goldman Sachs and J.B.Pritzker is financing an expansion of the Utah High Quality Preschool Program to provide early education services to up to five cohorts totaling over 3,500 children. The initiative will follow four cohorts of children for 12 years.

In 2015, investors received their first payout. Of the 595 new students, researchers estimated that without preschool, 110 students would have been likely to use special education in grade school. Students were identified through a predictive standardized test. Of those 110 students, only one used special education services in kindergarten. All 110 students will be monitored through sixth grade. (Note: is prediction has been called into question with some experts saying it was too high.)

It is expected that fewer children will use special education and remedial services in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Keys to Success

Evidence-based model

Strong feasibility study

Local interest led by financial analyst as a champion

Private sector investment interest

Agreement that the structure of the deal will not affect whether a child who needs special education will be placed appropriately for such services

Independent evaluation and outcome metrics

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