During 2001-2002, the Ford Foundation sponsored a national study of alternative staffing service providers to document their characteristics as workforce development programs and social enterprises, and analyze how they position themselves and compete with conventional staffing companies. Among other findings, the report recommended “the creation of a trade association-like network” as a means to help alternative staffing programs access technical assistance, collectively address policy issues and help expand the sector by supporting other organizations interested in launching similar ventures.
In response, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, instrumental in supporting several alternative staffing service projects, asked The ICA Group to formally explore this concept and develop a vision and preliminary operating plan for an association. The study confirmed alternative staffing organizations’ strong enthusiasm and interest in forming a national network.
Based on feedback from practitioners, and informed by the experience of similar associations, ICA developed a plan to organize and operate a national alternative staffing association. The Mott Foundation provided funding to implement the plan, and the Alternative Staffing Alliance was launched in March 2007 with 13 charter member organizations, growing to 51 members in 2016. Among other activities, the Alliance annually surveys the field to benchmark performance outcomes, continues to develop tools and document best practices, and convenes an annual conference for learning and networking. We are also active members of the America Forward Coalition, the Social Enterprise for Jobs (SE4Jobs) Working Group led by REDF, and the Social Enterprise Alliance.