Urban Institute
Training and Technical Assistance Manager

Want to be the next PFSI TTA recipient?

September 19, 2017 - 10:59am

Back in 2015, we launched our first application process for Urban’s pro bono pay for success (PFS) training and technical assistance (TTA) services. The seven grantees we selected from a strong applicant pool included government and quasi-governmental agencies and intermediaries from Yakima Valley in Washington State to Suffolk County, New York. Some were close to project launch and looking for specific evaluation support from Urban; others were in the early stages of project planning and sought guidance on how to select an appropriate problem to address using this approach.  

Through our work with this first cohort of TTA grantees, our team has better honed what factors appear tied to success in PFS; absorbed lessons from our staff working on evaluation; and learned more about the steps that governments take when planning and implementing this model.

Now, we are ready to apply these lessons learned to a brand-new cohort of cities, counties, states, and service providers.

That is why Urban is excited to release its second RFP for TTA services. Our experts are eager to help other places interested in PFS strengthen their projects.

If you are interested in applying, here are your answers to some frequently asked questions:

Who is eligible to apply?

We are accepting applicants from government agencies at any level of government, including cities, counties, and states. We are also accepting applications from service providers. One of these two types of stakeholders must be the primary applicant, but Urban strongly encourages applications from projects where strong partnerships are already formed among government, service providers, investors, intermediaries, and/or evaluators. In fact, applications that have already established these partnerships will be more highly scored.  

Remember, if you’re not eligible, you can still connect with our experts to get your PFS-related questions answered.

What kinds of TTA services is Urban providing?

Urban offers services that include stakeholder engagement, assistance with data access, collection and analysis, intervention design, and evaluation design. These services are designed to strengthen PFS projects by supporting the development of evidence-based interventions and rigorous evaluations. Here are a few ways that projects might use these services:

Example 1: One of our previous projects that focused on evaluation design involved about six months of stakeholder engagement to determine the scope of the project, gather information about the intervention, educate stakeholders on potential evaluation designs, and facilitate discussion about which design made the most sense. Once the project partners selected a design, Urban spent another three months drafting and receiving feedback on an evaluation blueprint that the project evaluators could use put in place immediately.

Example 2: Another project involved a service provider who reached out for assistance in designing a randomized controlled trial (RCT) for their project with a health system. This project involved stakeholders from six organizations. Much of that project was spent identifying a target population that met the requirements of the potential end payor and the service provider; working out referral pathways into the intervention; developing data usage and sharing agreements with the health system to enable the evaluation; and collecting data on the target population. 

Example 3 (hypothetical): A permanent supportive housing provider that serves homeless individuals wants to expand its services to a new population through a PFS project. Working with their city government and with Urban, they would like to use local data to identify which populations are most in need of services, identify what outcomes make sense to measure for this population based on existing literature, and come up with three potential evaluation designs for the project.

What are the outputs from TTA work with Urban PFSI?

In our first round of TTA, we worked with our grantees to develop plans for addressing their needs, engaging the subject matter expertise of researchers across the Urban Institute. The outputs of our work with grantees have included evaluation design blueprints, memos about the strength of an intervention’s evidence, target population eligibility criteria, and a list of outcomes for the PFS project. 

What are you looking for in applicants?

There are four criteria that Urban will be using to judge applicants:

  • Project Progress: Documentation supporting demonstrating previous work on the project is available.
  • Strong Partnerships: Multiple partners are actively engaged in their project already.
  • Social Impact: The project will positively impact vulnerable populations.
  • Demonstrated Need: The project team has a clear need for Urban’s specific services.

For example, a strong applicant would be a nonprofit service provider that has already obtained government support as an end payor and champions for the project, engaged an intermediary and potential evaluator, and identified a demonstrably disadvantaged target population and a clear ask around Urban’s evaluation capabilities.

Not every applicant we select will have all of these factors, and that’s okay! The most important factor is the commitment from partners, particularly the end payor: our TTA services are for potential PFS projects already in the works. If you are just starting to think about pay for success, our Ask an Expert service is likely to be more useful to you at this time.

How do I apply?

If you think your project would be a good fit for our support, you can apply here. You can send any questions you have about the application to askpfsi@urban.org, or ask a question live during our webinar on October 3rd at 2 PM ET, where we'll walk through the application with those interested in hearing more.

Applications are due by midnight 5 PM ET on Tuesday, October 31. If your application is selected, you will be notified by December 2017.  We look forward to working with you!

Have a Pay for Success question? Ask our experts here!

As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Scholars are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research. Photo via Shutterstock.