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Mission and Vision

ICS Mission

Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, the Institute for Child Success (ICS) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and policy organization dedicated to the success of all young children.

ICS pursues its mission in four primary ways:

  • Proposing smart public polices, grounded in research.
  • Advising governments, nonprofits, foundations, and other stakeholders on strategies to improve outcomes.
  • Sharing knowledge, convening stakeholders, embracing solutions, and accelerating impact.
  • Fostering the next generation of leaders.

Pay for Success

ICS works on PFS financing because it has the potential to bring new resources to early childhood systems and to make those systems more effective by helping government, service providers, and funders focus on outcomes for children. ICS is committed to building the enabling environment in which early childhood Pay for Success projects can develop, which includes identifying what steps need to be taken to make it successful and sharing what we learn from others working to help children succeed.

With Pay for Success (also called Social Impact Bonds, or SIBs), philanthropic funders and private “impact investors” provide the initial capital to scale up successful interventions, most often those identified as “evidence-based.” This designation is based on rigorous evaluations and several years of solid outcomes data. The services selected for PFS financing are generally delivered by nonprofits, under a management structure headed by an intermediary organization.


The government contracts with the intermediary organization for specific outcomes, and an independent evaluator determines whether the outcomes are achieved, usually by comparing them to those of a control or comparison group.The intermediary organization uses the government’s promise of payment to raise private capital for programs expected to achieve the contracted outcomes with the least risk to the investors.

If the outcomes are achieved, government funds are used to repay the investors’ principal plus an agreed-upon return. These interventions often save government money by reducing the likelihood of crime, child abuse, or other expensive problems; thus, they both prevent problems and promote health and well-being. Government can draw on those savings to pay for the outcomes achieved.

ICS believes that PFS financing holds enormous promise for improving children’s lives. We have already conducted a feasibility study of the potential for PFS to scale up early childhood programs in South Carolina, in particular the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) – a successful home visiting program for low-income first-time mothers. By analyzing the feasibility of PFS for NFP, we learned lessons about how PFS financing might apply to the broader field of early childhood interventions. These lessons included likely benefits, the types of projects for which PFS is best suited, and potential challenges. As grantees of the Social Innovation Fund’s (SIF) PFS program, ICS works with jurisdictions interested in exploring the feasibility of a PFS project for early childhood. For more information on this work, visit our SIF Work page.