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Governor Quinn Pioneers Innovative Approach to Fund New Opportunities for At-Risk Youth

Press Release - Monday, September 30, 2013

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today announced the next step in developing a cutting-edge partnership between Illinois, community organizations and private investors to provide better opportunities for at-risk youth. Illinois is the third state in the nation to move forward with Social Impact Bonds - a performance-driven approach to funding programs that solve pressing community challenges by investing in prevention. The initiative is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to foster innovation across Illinois, expand career pathways for youth and make government smarter.

"Illinois' first Social Impact Bonds project will offer a critical hand of support to our state's youth who need the most help," Governor Quinn said. "This will allow us to address community needs that we otherwise might not have been able to do. This new initiative has already attracted strong interest from investors and community organizations."

Just last week, the Governor's Office issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations seeking to partner with the state on Social Impact Bonds contracts. The state is seeking to partner on projects across two issue areas:

  1. Increasing placement stability while reducing re-arrests for youth in Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services with histories of justice-involvement.
  2. Improving educational achievement and living-wage employment opportunities for justice-involved youth at highest risk of reoffending upon returning to their communities.

These initiatives aim to build on the state's success through programs such as Redeploy Illinois towards reducing the number of juveniles incarcerated in Illinois - down 32% since 2005. Despite that progress, a recent state report estimated that 86% of youth emerging from the juvenile justice system between 2005-2007 were re-arrested within three years of their release.

There is significant interest in Social Impact Bonds in Illinois. This summer, the State received 41 responses, from 43 organizations, to the Governor's Office Request for Information (RFI) offering input on promising opportunities to achieve better outcomes for the people of Illinois using Social Impact Bonds. Consistent with Governor Quinn's pledge to advance transparency in government, Illinois was the first state in the nation to publish responses related to a Social Impact Bonds RFI.

Exploration of Social Impact Bonds, also known as "pay for success contracts," was recommended last spring by the Governor's Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. With the Social Impact Bonds model, governments team up with service providers and private sector investors to create and fund innovative social programs. Investors are repaid only when the programs reach specific outcome targets, achieving tax dollar savings. Social Impact Bonds spur evidence-based solutions to pressing community challenges while limiting the risk to taxpayers if a program fails. They represent a smarter way for government to do business, furthering transparency and accountability to ensure that taxpayer funds are not spent on ineffective programs.

Illinois is on the leading edge of Social Impact Bonds among states in the U.S., following New York and Massachusetts. The world's first SIB was introduced in the U.K. in 2010.

The Harvard Kennedy School's Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab), with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, received $275,000 from the Dunham Fund to establish the initiative in Illinois. The Rockefeller Foundation has been a leader in helping to bring the SIB model to states and the Dunham Fund is expanding that investment to Illinois. The technical assistance provided through the grant will help Illinois develop or expand proven, evidence-based programs for at-risk youth so they can have a greater impact in communities in need.

"Dunham Fund is very excited to be part of the social impact bond initiative which we believe can deliver innovative programs and positive change for the people of Illinois," Ryan Maley, a Dunham Fund board member, said.

For more information on Social Impact Bonds in Illinois and the RFP, please visit

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