First Step Staffing expands into Philadelphia

Jan 16, 2018 No Comments by

First Step Staffing has acquired a portion of the Philadelphia-based division of On Time Staffing, a for-profit staffing company specializing in warehouse, packaging and production jobs, which will now become part of First Step’s nonprofit social enterprise.

First Step will partner with On Time Staffing, the City of Philadelphia and local social service providers to recruit, employ and support job seekers transitioning out of homelessness – including veterans, re-entering citizens and others – to fill the approximately 700 acquired staffing jobs as openings occur.  First Step expects to employ 500 homeless men and women in its first year of operation in Philadelphia, and serve more than 1,000 job seekers by year three.

Founded in Atlanta in 2007, First Step acquired a for-profit company there in 2015 as a strategy to scale its impact. Since then, the enterprise has placed thousands of men and women into jobs, enabling many to secure permanent housing within six months. In 2017 alone, First Step helped 3,384 homeless or at risk individuals find jobs, with an average of 550 to 750 working on a daily basis. Job coaching, transportation and other supportive services increase workers’ job retention and promote their overall personal success.

The Philadelphia acquisition was funded by philanthropic dollars, including a significant grant from The Barra Foundation, support from the City of Phildelphia, investments by a consortium of socially-minded members of Investor’s Circle, and a senior acquisition loan from four Community Development Financial Institutions, including the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Reinvestment Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

Global law firm Dentons provided pro bono legal services during the acquisition process, while all funders facilitated introductions to other funders, government officials, and human services organizations in Philadelphia. As First Step prepares to fill the newly acquired jobs, these partnerships will be critical to ensuring candidates are work-ready and fully supported.

“We are honored by the warm and supportive welcome already provided by the City and look forward to making Philadelphia our first replication location,” said Greg Block, First Step Founder and Chairman. “Our goal is to help thousands of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens gain sustainable employment, and eventually, a permanent residence. We believe a steady and sustainable income is the only reliable path out of homelessness.”

Adds Tina Wahl, President of The Barra Foundation, “By purchasing a for-profit staffing company and converting it into a nonprofit with existing earned revenue streams, First Step is taking a fresh approach to combatting homelessness. This type of rapid employment for homeless individuals does not yet exist in Philadelphia and will be an important addition to the continuum of care.”

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