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Niagara Resource Service for Youth (RAFT) shortlisted for Social Impact Bond pilot

Posted Aug 12th, 2015

The RAFT is one of only four organizations shortlisted from among 83 proposals to participate in piloting and business case validation for the first Social Impact Bond (SIB) in Ontario.  If you’re curious about what a Social Impact Bond is you can ask Michael Lethby, Executive Director of RAFT.  

“Social Impact Bonds have the potential to allow not-for-profits to scale successful evidence based programs”, Michael said, “This will facilitate the introduction of innovation into new regions allowing us to end youth homelessness.”

He said developing the Social Impact Bond has been in progress for over a year and in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and Deloitte a business case has been completed.  “I was very impressed with the rigor that went into the business case development but also with the understanding they have of the unique challenges we face in the not-for-profit sector”.     

Led by the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, a total of twelve ministries are involved and Infrastructure Ontario is designing the process for sourcing the investor market, a critical next step toward implementation.

“I am confident that our business case clearly illustrates a return on investment, both financial and social” said Michael “Investor interest will be key to whether or not our project moves forward”.

To learn more about SIBs and the four shortlisted proposals, go to 

The Niagara Resource Service for Youth - RAFT (Niagara)

The Social Impact Bond idea proposed by the RAFT targets over 900 at-risk young people, primarily in underserved rural areas surrounding Haldimand-Norfolk County, Niagara Region and Hamilton, to increase high school graduation rates and improve key employment and social outcomes.

With the support of community partners, the proposed program will focus on helping young people make healthy lifestyle choices, while acquiring the necessary social, emotional and educational skills they need to become independent and self-sufficient members of the community.
  • Anticipated social and economic benefits
  • Provide safe, stable housing to young people who are considered at-risk
  • Improve high school graduation rates (e.g.: pilot participants to achieve the provincial average high school graduation rate of 83%. The current rate is 55%)
  • Help young people develop enhanced life skills and use them to make good choices
  • Increase savings by reducing the use of emergency shelter

About the organization

Niagara Resource Service for Youth (“The RAFT”) is a non-profit agency that offers programming to help young people considered at-risk access appropriate housing and related social supports, while staying in school.

Excerpts from the Ontario government’s press release are provided here:

Social Impact Bonds:  An innovative social impact tool

Social Impact Bonds are an innovative social policy tool that bring together different groups — governments, corporations, private investors, foundations, service providers and social enterprises — to deliver effective and prevention-focused solutions to the toughest issues facing communities.

Private investment is used to finance interventions upfront, which are delivered by social service providers with proven track records. If agreed-upon social outcomes and cost savings are achieved then financial returns are paid to investors out of the savings realized by government.

Robust performance monitoring and an evaluation system with interim reporting will ensure that these projects will remain on track to deliver good results for Ontarians.

Social Impact Bonds do not replace current government funding or existing programs that Ontarians rely upon. Their aim is to allow the government to explore innovative policy solutions while minimizing financial risk and delivering better outcomes for people.

About the pilot program

In the context of its Social Enterprise Strategy and Poverty Reduction Strategy, the government will pilot one or more Social Impact Bond(s) in Ontario.

In 2014, 83 individuals and organizations, such as non-profits and municipalities, submitted proposals for Social Impact Bonds to address one or more of the following high-priority social policy challenges:
  1. housing and homelessness
  2. youth at risk
  3. improving employment opportunities for persons facing barriers 

Short-listed ideas

Through a rigorous evaluation process, the Province has short-listed four high-potential ideas for Social Impact Bonds. These ideas are under review, and require further testing, business case development and validation with potential partners to confirm their viability as Social Impact Bond pilots. Not all short-listed ideas will necessarily proceed to the piloting stage.

News & Updates

Life Unscripted Interview

May 11th, 2022

Our Executive Director Mike Lethby was interviewed by Janice Arnoldi from Life Unscripted. "I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Janice Arnoldi on her show “Life Unscripted” on CKTB. The interview covered the RAFT’s history and our unique and successful service for youth in Niagara." - Mike Lethby, RAFT Executive Director

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