UW’s Jeff Hayward attends White House Summit on Urban Innovation
No one can say that the federal government isn't working hard to find innovative solutions to some of our nation's most nagging and persistent social challenges including education, joblessness, homelessness and poverty in general. This effort was front and center recently at the White House Summit on Urban Innovation, where an array of federal agencies were gathered together with 100 of the more innovative public, private and not-for-profit organizations.
I had the privilege of representing United Way of Mass Bay at this White House event - one of six United Ways invited! One of the hosts of the event, Jonathan Greenblatt, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, singled out United Way in his closing remarks by saying, "One of the organizations we admire deeply in this work is United Way."
United Way of Mass Bay has been particularly innovative in recent years with the advent of "Housing First", a radically different approach to addressing homelessness with remarkable results. Our approach to early child development and the insistence that children be screened at an early age for learning and developmental delays, including social and emotional challenges, has produced notable results and significant future savings associated with each child's education. Indeed, our overall approach to community investing has been hailed as "...some of the most promising practices of philanthropic giving."
More recently, United Way of Mass Bay was chosen as part of a collaborative team by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its Social Innovative Financing efforts. Commonly referred to as "pay for success" contracts, or social impact bonds, these agreements are some of the most innovative ways of approaching the funding of services for targeted populations. United Way and its partners (MA Housing and Shelter Alliance, Corporation for Supportive Housing and Third Sector Capital Partners) will be securing private investment to fund services provided in an innovative and tested program to ameliorate chronic homeless amongst adults and save the taxpayers money at the same time. The government will reimburse us for those services only if we are successful. Risky? Yes. Innovative? Yes. The type of thinking that the White House was looking for this past week and moving forward? Absolutely!
-Jeff Hayward, Chief of External Affairs, United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley