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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Salt Lake County Leads Country In Pay-For-Success Financing

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Salt Lake County reports having deployed the first implementation of a pay-for-success financing at the county level in the country. Mayor Ben McAdams has been actively involved and is now looking for more ways to apply the nascent financing structure, sometimes called social impact bonds.

McAdams says, “Salt Lake County used the Pay for Success model to send 600 additional low-income kids to preschool in 2013.”

“The Pay for Success model creates a huge opportunity to put taxpayer dollars towards what actually works, rather than following an out-dated recipe that we once thought or hoped would work,” McAdams adds.


McAdams explains his motivation, “Pay for Success is a new and different approach to traditional government programming geared towards addressing social needs in the community. Pay for Success is about better accountability for taxpayer dollars and funding what we know works.”

McAdams sees this as a beginning. “We’re interested in following data and evidence to scale up programs that help folks in their effort to get on a better path for their future.”

Next week, the Mayor is hosting a conference on Pay For Success in Salt Lake City in partnership with the White House.

The Salt Lake County Council approved developing three more pay-for-success programs in the areas of maternal and child health, prison recidivism and homelessness.

On Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, McAdams will join me for a live discussion about the pay-for-success implementations in Salt Lake County and the conference next week. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.

More about Salt Lake County:

Salt Lake County is the regional government for our thriving metropolitan area, consisting of one million plus residents and 16 individual cities. We are also the local government for the townships and unincorporated areas in Salt Lake County. We provide several services, from parks and recreation centers, to services for our aging population like Meals and Wheels and senior centers. We also support arts and culture in the community by running key arts facilities like the Capitol Theatre and Utah Symphony home Abravanel Hall. Salt Lake County also manages an expansive health department and library system, while maintaining roads, flood control, and short and long term community planning.

McAdams‘ bio:

Ben McAdams was sworn into office as Salt Lake County Mayor on Jan. 7, 2013. Mayor McAdams pledged to work collaboratively, across party lines, to find efficiencies in County government and to be open and accountable to citizens.

During his tenure as County Mayor, he has championed education, helping the county become the first in the country to partner with the private sector to offer greater access to high-quality preschool for low-income children. Mayor McAdams has also emphasized economic development and job growth, partnering with cities to attract business while being a careful steward of taxpayer dollars. He has also supported greater access for businesses and residents to transit, trails and open space.

Mayor McAdams is a graduate of the University of Utah and Columbia Law School. After Columbia Law School, he worked as a corporate finance attorney with firms in New York and Salt Lake City.

Ben and his wife, Julie (a fellow Columbia Law School graduate) enjoy hiking with their four children and cheering at Saturday morning soccer games.

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