Social Enterprise

Project Place

Established in 1967, Project Place is a nonprofit that helps individuals achieve employment, shelter, and hope for the future.  To enable clients to develop job skills while earning a regular paycheck, Project Place runs four social enterprises: a facility maintenance business, a vending machine services business, a food services and catering enterprise, and an enterprise providing business services for people making specialty products.  In 2015, the nonprofit’s social enterprises employed nearly 100 clients and generated one-fifth of Project Place’s operating budget.

Social Entrepreneurs: Forget Everything You Think You Know about Raising Capital

Flowers getting water they need to grow

When you hear the word “investor,” what do you picture?

When I ask most people this question, they describe a white man in a suit (or, if in Silicon Valley, maybe khakis and a button down shirt) in a fancy office spending every work day combing through pitch decks, executive summaries, and due diligence and barking tough questions at terrified entrepreneurs. Read more about Social Entrepreneurs: Forget Everything You Think You Know about Raising Capital...

Verde Community Farm and Market

Located at Verde Gardens, a supportive housing community for formerly homeless families run by the nonprofit Carrfour Supportive Housing, Verde Community Farm and Market is a 22-acre organic-certified fruit and vegetable farm established in 2013 to provide employment opportunities, job skills training, educational outreach, and healthy, fresh produce for Verde Garden residents.  In 2015, the project added a restaurant component, Verde Kitchen Café, which serves products grown on the farm and provides additional job opportunities. As of 2015, Verde Community Farm and Market employed 15 people.  All of the enterprises’ revenues support the health, financial, and psychological services offered by Carrfour to Verde residents.

Democracy Collaborative In Left Forum

Between The Lines
Left Forum

At Left-Forum—co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative—Gar Alperovitz discusse building the Pluralist Commonwealth and "the Resitance" in 2017...listen here

Best Practices for Social Value Procurement

Tessa Hebb and Heather Hachigian
Carleton Centre for Community Innovation

While a growing number of institutions are recognizing the need to integrate social, economic, and environmental values into their purchasing decisions, few actually evaluate and measure these values, limiting the uptake of this approach. This new paper from the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation reviews existing social value procurement frameworks, including Cleveland’s Greater University Circle Initiative, and puts forwards common themes and lessons learned. Read the full paper here.  

Help Us Grow (HUG)

Launched by Covenant House Georgia to provide training and job opportunities to the homeless and trafficked youth it serves while generating revenues for its programs and strengthening Atlanta’s local food system, Help Us Grow (HUG) sells starter plants to community gardens and gardeners across Atlanta. The nonprofit’s garden site, which includes native woodland, tranquility gardens and recreational areas, also aims to provide a safe, secure place for the youth it serves.  HUG expects to sell thousands of organic, non-GMO vegetable seedlings to fire station gardens, community gardens, and local residents.

First Step Staffing

Aiming to help ensure people struggling to break out of poverty have a permanent, reliable path towards success, First Step Staffing focuses on helping military veterans and those transitioning from homelessness and/or incarceration to secure steady, sustainable income.  To do so, the nonprofit staffing agency places its clients in a range of semi-skilled and entry-level position, and uses 100 percent of its revenues to provide clients with wrap-around services, including job and life coaching, transportation, and housing assistance.  Since its establishment in 2007, the nonprofit has supported more than 7,500 people.

Second Chances

Second Chances aims to help individuals in recovery develop the skills they need to secure employment and become self-sufficient.  The nonprofit’s program is centered around its social enterprise, Second Chances Cleaning Services, which provides over 110 people a year with on-the-job training.

Chronicling the Lives of the Working Poor Across America

The Leonard Lopate Show

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and Columbia Journalism School professor Dale Maharidge crossed the country to chronicle the lives of today's working poor, from farmworkers in southern California fighting against low wages and a devastating drought, to heroin stricken communities in northern Maine that have been abandoned by industry. His story, “American Ballad: A Photographic Chronicle of America's Working Poor,” marks the 75th anniversary of James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. It was published in the December issue of Smithsonian Magazine...listen here 

EMERGE Connecticut, Inc.

EMERGE Connecticut, Inc. helps formerly incarcerated people and at-risk youth in the Greater New Haven area return successfully to their families and neighborhoods.  To do so, the social enterprise provides its participants with paid, part-time training in its construction, landscaping, and property management business as well as wrap-around support services.  Since its establishment in 2011, more than 225 people have completed its program.