Social Enterprise

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.

Social Entrepreneurship in Action: A White Paper Examining Prospects for Program Development

llinois Community Action Development Corporation

 The project scope focused on identifying opportunities, needs and gaps in ICADC’s and to some extent IACAA, IVCA’s programs and services to support earned income and social enterprise development within the network of 40 Community Action Agencies. 

The Emerging Need For Hybrid Entities: Why California Should Become The Delaware Of Social Enterprise Law

Ross Kelley

Recognizing the limitations and restraints posed on socially conscious for-profit organizations, several states have begun to develop a legislative model that blends attributes of traditional for-profit and not-for-profit entities into “hybrid” organizations. Chief among these states is California, which has emerged as a leader of this new social enterprise reform. California is the only state to allow a business to incorporate as a Benefit Corporation or a Flexible Purpose Corporation. Additionally, the state legislature has proposed a third type of hybrid entity—the Low-Profit Limited Liability Company. By addressing the limitations of the traditional corporate structure, California’s new hybrid entities afford directors, founders, and officers not only with increased legal protection, but also promote confidence to pursue social and environmental causes. This Article explains why California is the preferred choice for social enterprises and how an influx of social enterprises could benefit the state. 

Better Futures Minnesota

Established in 2007, Better Futures Minnesota helps men with a history of incarceration, homelessness, poverty, and untreated mental and physical health challenges achieve self-sufficiency.  A core part of its program is its social enterprise, which provides on-the-job training in deconstruction, warehouse safety, appliance recycling, janitorial services, and snow and lawn care equipment training and maintenance.  Materials salvaged through its deconstruction work are sold in its ReUse Warehouse, diverting about 700 tons of building materials a year from area landfills and providing revenue to help support the nonprofit’s outreach and supportive services.  In 2015, the social enterprise employed 72 men.

Cycles for Change

Cycles for Change aims to build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists in the Twin Cities area.  Its programs include free bicycle repair, trainings to promote bicycle safety and confidence, and youth apprenticeships focused on job training and leadership development.  To fund its programs, it runs two retail shops from which it sells donated and used bikes and offers repair services.

Appetite for Change

Appetite for Change is a community-led organization that uses food to foster health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. Its social enterprises include Kindred Kitchen, which provides affordable, high quality commercial kitchen space and business technical services to small, locally-based food businesses, and Breaking Bread Café and Catering, a restaurant providing training and jobs for community residents.  The nonprofit currently provides jobs or internships to 46 area youth and supports 53 community-owned food start-ups or businesses.

Second Chance

Second Chance is a social enterprise that creates green collar jobs by deconstructing buildings and homes, salvaging usable materials, and selling those materials at its 200,000 square foot retail store.  It uses the revenue generated through such sales to provide job training for Baltimoreans with employment obstacles.  Program graduates are guaranteed associate or supervisory-level positions that pay above-average wages at Second Chance.  In 2015, Second Chance provided training and employment to 180 adults and salvaged materials from 178 structures, diverting more than 1.5 million cubic feet of waste from landfills.


Humanim, a Baltimore-based nonprofit with a mission to provide uncompromising human services to those in need, established its social enterprise division to increase employment opportunities for individuals with severe barriers to work and economic opportunities.  Its social enterprises include Details (a deconstruction and material repurposing business), iScan (scanning and conversion services), and Harbor City Services (moving, shredding, records management, and warehousing services).  In 2016, it launched its latest social enterprise, City Seeds, a 15,000 square‐foot commercial kitchen and bakery.