College & Workforce Readiness

Feds Hope to Reconnect Dropouts Via ‘Performance Partnership Pilots’

By Sarah D. Sparks — November 28, 2014 2 min read
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Disconnected young people often need a diverse array of help—education, job counseling, housing, mental health support and so on—and it can be difficult for groups to braid together the various federal, state, and local funding streams to meet those needs.

Back in 2013, the Obama administration proposed piloting “performance partnerships” to give groups supporting students more flexibility in providing services.

In a Federal Register notice this week, the administration suggests the Performance Partnerships Pilots, or P3, “may help address the ‘wrong pockets’ problem, where programs that see improved outcomes or other benefits due to an intervention are unable to provide funds to support that intervention based on program restrictions.”

Each P3 site would be allowed to blend discretionary money from various federal funding streams and waive requirements for parts of some programs, as long as they showed evidence that they were meeting their goals to help so-called “disconnected youth"—those 14-to-24-year-olds who are poor and homeless, leaving the justice or foster care systems, and those who are neither in school nor working.

Several federal agencies, including the U.S. Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments, will be allowed to create up to 10 pilot partnerships focused on either disconnected youth generally, or those specifically in rural or tribal areas.

Each pilot must:

  • Conduct a needs assessment to identify the youth who will be served;
  • Set strategies to help them based on continuing data and evaluations;
  • Identify the funding streams that would be blended to support the strategies and the federal or other flexibility that would be needed to do so; and
  • Enter into a performance agreement that lays out specific goals, interim and outcome measures, and responsibility and oversight for every federal, state, and local partner involved.

The agencies would also prioritize partnerships that use Promise Zones and those that include an experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation of their work. For example, an accompanying brief explained:

A Promise Zone community that has implemented a strong collective impact model for tracking progress on multiple indicators could work with local business partners to implement a promising intervention that provides youth with skills training, mentoring, and valuable work experience."

Each project will get $400,000 to $700,000 in start-up money in addition to the funding flexibility.

The applications will be available at and must be submitted by March 4, 2015, so we should start to see some proposals next spring.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.