Social Impact Bonds — a Primer

Reposted with permission from Parents Across America Oregon.


This post is the first in a series on social impact bonds. The idea is rather simple, but the devil is in the details.  Although the concept has been around for a few years and caused controversy in other places,  it has only recently come to my attention in Oregon. That topic will be the subject of a future post. Goldman Sachs is a purveyor of social impact bonds. It seems only fitting that they should be our guide through a first look at SIBs.


“Goldman Sachs is a pioneer in the creation of the “social impact bond” – an innovative and emerging financial instrument that leverages private investment to support high-impact social programs.”  Goldman Sachs, 2014


During the past few years while parents and educators have been struggling to protect students from the  harmful effects of high stakes tests and edtech, the billionaire class has been salivating over their most devious scheme yet: social impact bonds (SIBs). While they sound benign enough as portrayed in the graphic below, social impact bonds are the proverbial “wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing.”   Below is a Goldman Sachs’ explanation for the 1%:


For a printable 11″ x 17″ back-to-back copy of both posters, click here.



Using the Goldman Sachs poster as a template,  I’ve taken the liberty to expand and improve on that description in plain speak. Please feel free to share widely. Below is a translation for the 99%:


Social impact bonds are also referred to as Pay for Success programs. More about that in a future post. What questions and concerns do you have?

-Deb Mayer

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