In this case study, we review major lessons drawn from the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Pay for Success Initiative (“the MAJJ PFS project”). The MAJJ PFS project aims to reduce recidivism and improve employment outcomes for young men at high risk of re-offending in the Boston, Chelsea, and Springfield, Massachusetts areas. The project will allow Roca, a service provider with a 25-year history serving this population, to provide its high-impact intervention to 929 at-risk young men aged 17 to 23 who are in the probation system or exiting the juvenile justice system.

Roca’s programming aims to reduce recidivism and increase employment through intensive street outreach and targeted life skills, education, and employment programming. The Roca intervention is delivered over an intensive two-year period followed by two years of follow-up engagement. Funders, including Goldman Sachs, Living Cities, the Kresge Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, New Profit, Inc. and the Boston Foundation, are providing a combination of loans and grants to pay for Roca’s services. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will repay funders only if Roca’s services are proven to produce positive societal outcomes and savings for the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts will make up to $27 million in success payments for this seven-year project, which is the largest investment in a PFS initiative in the U.S. to date. Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. served as the intermediary organization and assisted project parties in developing and launching the project, and will serve as the ongoing project manager. This project was one of the first state-level PFS projects in the United States and the largest PFS project by amount of upfront funding to-date. Over the 1.5-year development process of this innovative project, we learned several critical lessons about PFS project development and management. While the PFS sector is still in its infancy and no “cookie cutter” deal yet exists, we believe that these lessons are immediately relevant for all PFS projects regardless of the ultimate financing or governance structure.