Philadelphia’s impact investors step up to finance local job-creation and a storefront revival

First Step Staffing has a disarmingly simple impact strategy for integrating homeless and previously incarcerated people into the workforce.

The nonprofit acquires all or part of much larger for-profit staffing companies with steady customers in need of reliable workers. First Step assimilates the existing staff and, through natural attrition, gradually adds employees from much more vulnerable – but eager to work – populations. To boost retention, First Step provides transportation and covers other expenses.

First Step had gotten its start in Atlanta and was ready to expand. Last year, a group of Philadelphia investors, led by Reinvestment Fund, put together a more than $5 million package of financing to bring First Step to their city.

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