Innovative investment tools financing economic mobility

A conversation with Tracy Palandjian, CEO & co-founder, Social Finance

Joining me on the Work in Progress podcast this week is Tracy Palandjian, CEO and co-founder of the national nonprofit Social Finance.

One of the big topics of discussion as we come out of the pandemic is how do we rethink ways in which to finance career readiness, helping job seekers afford to get the skills they need in today’s workforce.

For more than 10 years, Social Finance has been doing just that. Palandjian explains how the nonprofit has been pioneering innovative investment tools and creating unique public-private partnerships to better prepare people for the “future of work, build pathways to economic mobility, and measurably improve (their) lives.”

“We’ve worked with governments, with traditional nonprofit service providers, with philanthropies, with the investment community to rethink how we make decisions, how we allocate capital with impact at the center, and to realign incentives and to share risks in a way to achieve the greatest impact for our communities,” she adds.

Palandjian details a successful example of how Social Impact Bonds worked to upskill immigrants and refugees in the Boston area through a project called Massachusetts Pathway to Economic Advancement.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a service delivery partner called JVS Boston—which is a Jewish Vocational Service Boston—and over 40 investors came together to build this ($13 million) bond. The idea is to raise investment capital to provide education and employment opportunities for more than 2000 immigrants and refugees in the area.

“If you really think about the economy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, immigrants power more than half of the workforce in key critical sectors, in health care, in hospitality, and a few other sectors. And this is a very important workforce that the state is very focused on.

“One of the tracks in this social impact bond is called English For Advancement. So these newcomer style community, they need to learn English. Two years later, they’re seeing a wage bump of north of $3,500. Investors are repaid based on job placement, based on how many of them go up that economic escalator.”

Palandjian goes into detail of how the success is measured in the podcast and in a new book from Social Finance called Workforce Realigned: How New Partnerships Are Advancing Economic Mobility, written in partnership with the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Philadelphia.

You can hear more in this podcast. You can read more about the book which has more than a dozen examples of the private-public financing collaborations and their workforce successes here.

Episode 187: Tracy Palandjian, CEO and co-founder, Social Finance
Host and Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, editor-in-chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

Download the transcript for this Work in Progress podcast episode here.
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