Josh Ogburn (far right) leads a panel discussion during the Pay for Success Conference.
Not every Batten student arrives at Garrett Hall exactly sure of what he or she wants to do. But, as a graduate student, Josh Ogburn (MPP ‘16) knew he wanted to study outcomes-based social policy. Even before his first day, Josh had already met with Batten professors Christine Mahoney and Bill Shobe, who were experts in the field and who eventually became two of his closest mentors.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Josh Ogburn (MPP 16’) worked for Senator Mark Warner for three years before coming to Batten. During his time as a student, Josh studied outcomes-based policy in a variety of areas, including early childhood education, homelessness, and workforce development. Starting in early 2015, Josh began working with the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Pay for Success Council to undertake a feasibility study of expanding maternal home visiting in the state with PFS. Josh has since led a first-in-the-state home visitation outcome analysis strategy, connecting datasets from three state agencies and two home visitation services providers. In his second year, Josh proposed that he and Professor Mahoney establish a research lab at Batten to advance outcomes-based social policy. The University of Virginia Pay for Success Lab officially launched in June 2016, with Josh on board as the lab director.
Pay for Success, also known as Social Impact Bonds, is an emerging public policy strategy which allows government to minimize risk in uncertain situations. One example is in education policy, with problems such as poor student performance. A city government may recognize the problem, but be hesitant to launch new programs. It can’t afford the cost of expensive, unsuccessful intervention in city schools. The Pay for Success model brings in other stakeholders to reduce the risk to the government. External funders (philanthropists or investors) pay for a service provider (such as an education nonprofit) to run a program. The government agrees to repay the funders only if the program achieves predetermined outcomes.
In his current role as Director of the UVa Pay for Success Lab, Josh leads a team of graduate and undergraduate students to provide assistance to community stakeholders across the state who are considering outcomes-based initiatives of their own. The Pay of Success Lab recently hosted its second annual convening in conjunction with the Darden School of Business, which brought together over 100 leaders from across the state who are involved in or interested in exploring the Pay for Success model. Moving forward, Josh will continue to leverage the world class resources at UVa and seek to improve communities across Virginia and beyond.