Social Enterprise

Amos House

The Amos House has experienced tremendous growth since its inception in 1976, with a staff of 50 people, the house is one of the leading social service agency in Rhode Island, managing the largest soup kitchen, providing services to over 15,000 individuals a year, and housing nearly 150 men and women a night.  Amos House Works is the business sector of the organization, with over 20 full-and-part time employees that work in their for-profit businesses: More than A Meal Catering, Amos House Builds, Friendship Café, and Bristol Harbor’s Homemade.  They have also graduated over 400 adults from their on-the-job training programs: Amos Culinary Education, Amos Carpentry Training, and Literacy Training.  The coalition's transitional housing program and phase two housing programs have assisted 2,300 individuals transition from homeless to self-sufficiency.

In Search of the Hybrid Ideal

Julie Battilana, Matthew Lee, John Walker and Cheryl Dorsey
Stanford Social Innovation Review

This Stanford Social Innovation Review article explores businesses that more fully incorporate a for-profit component to fund a social mission than traditional nonprofit social enterprises.  A primary challenge to the hybrid model is the constant tension between mission and market, where the search for more profitable markets may ultimately crowd out the very people the organization is attempting to serve.  However, other challenges – and opportunities – exist. This hybrid model has gained increasing notice in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. To date, sector growth has been modest. Nonetheless, Echoing Green, a nonprofit that supports early stage social business development, reports 50 percent of their 3,500 applicants now rely on this hybrid model, up from just 37 percent in 2006.

Sweet Beginnings

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), Sweet Beginnings offers full-time transitional jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment in a green industry. Sweet Beginnings produces and sells all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey. The workers at Sweet Beginnings deal with every step of the process from caring for the bees and hives, to harvesting the honey to packing the products, to selling them at retail outlets and special events.  In 2014, Sweet Beginnings created 18 full-time jobs for NLEN clients.

Living Classrooms Foundation

Founded in 1985, Living Classrooms Foundation aims to strengthen communities and inspire young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training efforts that use urban, natural, and maritime resources as "living classrooms." One of its core job training initiatives is SERVE (Service-Empowerment-Revitalization-Volunteerism-Employment Training), an enterprise offering a range of neighborhood revitalization services while providing on-the-job training for 150 unemployed and disadvantaged adults each year.  To date, SERVE is credited with cleaning over 40,000 vacant properties, rehabilitating 12 vacant homes, renovating 28 community buildings, and conducting over 45,000 hours of other needed community services.  Another social enterprise, Fresh Start, provides training to out-of-school males aged 16-19 in a student-run business that builds outdoor furniture and accessories.  The nonprofit also operates Harborplace’s paddleboats and electric boats, which provide job opportunities to youth who have been successful in Living Classroom’s training programs.

Women's Industrial Exchange

The Woman's Industrial Exchange began shortly after the Civil War in the home of Mrs. G. Harmon Brown of Baltimore, where women brought their handwork to be sold to local citizens and visitors. Read more about Women's Industrial Exchange...

La Cocino Community Kitchen

By providing affordable commercial kitchen space, technical assistance programs, and access to market, La Cocina provides immigrants and minority women tools to become food entrepreneurs. Since its establishment in 2005, 16 businesses have successfully launched and 24 are currently in the La Cocina incubator program. Read more about La Cocino Community Kitchen...

Delancey Street Foundation

Delancey Street is considered a prominent residential self-help organization for substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless, and many others who have been trapped in poverty.   Delancey Street, San Francisco is a 370,000 square foot self-built, self-managed, self-help complex constructed primarily by and for Delancey Residents. Covering an entire city block, the complex contains retail stores, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, vocational schools, and over 500 housing units.  The complex offers vocational training programs that have provided over 300 previously unemployable people skill training in purchasing, contracting, computer, and accounting services. Started in 1971 with 4 people in a San Francisco apartment, Delancey Street’s program, which, in addition to skill training, helps residents to receive a high school equivalency degree (GED), has now graduated over 18,000 people in 5 locations across the United States.


(formerly Roberts Enterprise Development Fund)

Nonprofit Sector Research Fund

The Nonprofit Sector Research Fund awards research grants, convenes sector leaders, and disseminates research findings to expand knowledge of the nonprofit sector, improve practices, and inform public policy. Read more about Nonprofit Sector Research Fund...

Network for Good

Founded by AOL, Crisco, and Yahoo in 2001, Network for Good is a nonprofit social enterprise that encourages nonprofits and corporate partners to advance social justice through its digital donation platform. The Network helps nonprofits increase their funds through online fundraising services, free training programs, and their webinar series. In its 11 years, the network has processed more than $650 million worth of donations for over 83,000 nonprofits. Read more about Network for Good...

National Center for Nonprofit Associations

Established in 1989, the National Center for Nonprofit Associations has grown to become a network of 39 state associations of nonprofits representing 22,000 nonprofits in 35 states and DC. It seeks to strengthen state association through linking them with national groups as well as through research, publication dissemination, education and leadership development training. Read more about National Center for Nonprofit Associations...

National Center for Charitable Statistics

The National Center for Charitable Statistics, a program of the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy is the national clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States. Read more about National Center for Charitable Statistics...

Independent Sector

The Independent Sector is an association of national nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs. It acts as an advocate for the non-profit sector, as well as publishing research on nonprofit sector activities. Read more about Independent Sector...


In 2005, the Cara Program launched their Cleanslate program, a community-based enhancement business that provides 250 transitional jobs annually to individuals facing significant employment challenges, including ex-convicts. The program generates over two million dollars a year in revenue through their litter cleanup, snow removal, and landscaping services. Read more about CleanSlate...

Center for Civil Society Studies

The Center for Civil Society Studies of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies conducts research on the role that nonprofit organizations play in modern society as well as providing training and capacity-building activities designed to strengthen non-profit organizations. Read more about Center for Civil Society Studies...

Blended Value.Org is a web site that contains a research report that looks at a variety of different enterprises, including social enterprises, that seek to “blend,” in one form or another social, financial (and sometimes also environmental) benefits in their work. Read more about

America Forward

The America Forward is a coalition that aims to advance a policy agenda to create an infrastructure for social enterprise. The group includes more than 60 nonprofit organizations with programs operating in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Together, these groups serve more than 10 million people a year and have a collective budget of more than $400 million. Read more about America Forward...


Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the Yale-Goldman Sachs Partnership for Nonprofit Ventures, SocialReturns aims to grow the practice of social entrepreneurship among nonprofits throughout the world. Programs include a social enterprise business plan competition, a university network of faculty and students teaching and studying social enterprise, a website of resources, and an annual conference and awards ceremony. Read more about SocialReturns...