Reinvestment Fund is helping First Step Staffing provide employment opportunities for individuals who face workforce entry barriers in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
About First Step Staffing
First Step Staffing (FSS) is the largest non-profit social enterprise staffing company in the United States. Headquartered in Atlanta, FSS supports individuals whose life experiences create significant barriers to workforce entry and re-entry. FSS’s mission is to end homlessness by assisting people to secure income sufficient to maintain housing. Their clients include individuals who have experienced incarceration, veterans, and/or who currently experience or have recently faced homelessness.
FSS connects people with jobs and provides resources to obtain primary strides into employment so individuals can cover their basic needs such as rent, clothing, and food. FSS also provides housing placement assistance, extensive job and life coaching, and partners with ride share services so employees have transportation to work sites at a discounted rate. With these resources, individuals who face workforce entry challenges can break the cycle of the hurdles that stand in their way. Each month FSS assigns more than 1,600 individuals jobs. Seventy-five percent of FSS clients retain employment after 90 days, which is 25% more than the industry average.
In 2018, with Reinvestment Fund’s financing help, FSS acquired OTS Staffing, a Philadelphia-based light industrial and services staffing firm, and converted the company into a mission-driven, non-profit dedicated to finding employment for individuals who had previously experienced homelessness. Reinvestment Fund partnered on financing with Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), LISC and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to purchase OTS’ Philadelphia area operations and provide working capital to serve as liquidity in the early days of its operations. A number of philanthropic funders and impact investors also supported the project. FSS set out to employ over 1,000 individuals by its third year of operation.
In 2019, Reinvestment Fund partnered with Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI) and Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) to work with FSS again, refinancing a maturing loan with better terms. In addition to improved terms, FSS can now allocate more cash that was previously held as collateral to operations and more programming. In Atlanta alone, FSS employs 1,100 employees across 100 Atlanta-based corporate partners.
FSS Los Angeles
Also in 2019, Reinvestment Fund partnered with NFF, REDF Impact Investing Fund, and Dignity Health, with additional support from Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties to support FSS’s expansion into Southern California. This includes Los Angeles, a market where the staffing agency will provide job placement in a city where nearly 60,000 individuals experience homelessness. The financing helped FSS acquire a portion of business from OS4 Labor, a for-profit staffing agency with expertise in temporary, long term and direct hire labor. The acquired enterprise will become part of FSS’s nonprofit organization and will include three offices in three counties and customers based primarily in the light industrial and logistics sectors. The expansion is expected to create 4,000 new jobs and pay $25 million in earned wages to California clients by the end of 2020.
The partnership between Reinvestment Fund and FSS aligns closely with our essential mission of directly providing economic opportunity for individuals who have low-income and who face various challenges to employment and stability.