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Atlanta-based First Step Staffing Expands into Philadelphia

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ATLANTA (January 10, 2018) — First Step Staffing, a nonprofit social enterprise based in Atlanta, today announced its expansion into Philadelphia. Founded in 2007, First Step’s mission is to secure sustainable income for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, including veterans, re-entering citizens, and others with significant barriers to employment. In the first 12 months of operation in Philadelphia, First Step expects to employ 500 homeless men and women in the area and grow to serve more than 1,000 by year three.

“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 Founderand 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 sustainableincome is the only reliable path out of homelessness.”

First Step has acquired a portion of the Philadelphia-based division of On Time Staffing—a for-profit staffing company founded 18 years ago specializing in warehouse, packaging, and manufacturing jobs—which will now become part of First Step’s nonprofit operations. First Step will collaborate with On Time Staffing, the City of Philadelphia, and other local social service providers to transition the approximately 700 acquired staffing jobs to serve the region’s homeless and at-risk men and women. On Time Staffing’s operations outside of the Philadelphiametro region willremain unaffected and continue to operate underthe On Time Staffing family of brands.

“This transition allows us to give back in a more meaningful way and serve the community of associations and clients that allowed for the tremendous growth overthe last two decades,” said Brian Kares, CEO of On Time Staffing.

First Step initially acquired a for-profit company in Atlanta in 2015  and, since the expansion, has placed thousands of men and women into jobs–many of whom were then able 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. Clients are referred to First Step through other nonprofits and social service organizations. These men and women are then provided with wrap-around support services, such as job coaching and transportation, to increase job retention and support 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 Philadelphia, investments by a consortium of socially minded members of Investors’ Circle, and a senior acquisition loan from four Community Development Financial Institutions (“CDFIs”), including Nonprofit Finance Fund (“NFF”), Reinvestment Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

“First Step’s model stands out as an innovative, effective way to help level the playing field for people who face steep barriers to economic mobility,” said Norah McVeigh, Managing Directorof Financial Services at Nonprofit Finance Fund. “NFF is pleased to partner with this group of community lenders and First Step to create meaningful opportunities for people whose contributions our economy really needs.”

“When we saw the results First Step was achieving in Atlanta and heard they wanted to expand, we jumped at the chance to help bring this model to Philadelphia,” said Andy Rachlin, Managing Director at Reinvestment Fund. “The amazing support they’ve received—not just from us and the rest of the community lending group, but from the City, philanthropy, and other leading homeless services providers in town—underscores what an important addition they are to our existing safety net.”

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

“We are excited and eager to take our model – using a business approach to help solve asocial concern – and implement it here in Philadelphia where the poverty rate is the highest of the top largest cities in the country,” said Dave Shaffer, First Step Staffing CEO. “Ultimately, we aim to be a true resource and collaborative partnerforthe organizations and passionate individuals who are already working to help Philadelphia’s homeless men and women take steps toward financial sustainability.”

Officials in Philadelphia have been engaged and excited about the new opportunities and approach offered by First Step.

Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services, City of Philadelphia: “Homelessness remains an issue for too many of our men and women, but First Step’s commitment to employment and, eventually, housing is a step in the right direction.”

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 yet not exist in Philadelphia and will be an important addition to the continuum of care.”

First Step Staffing Philadelphia will be located at 1952  E Allegheny, Suite 500,  Philadelphia, PA 19134.


About First Step Staffing

Founded in 2007, First Step Staffing was designed to address a critical gap in homelessness services in metro Atlanta with a mission is to end homelessness by assisting peopleto secure income sufficient to maintain housing through. While focused on its mission,

First Step also aims to offer best in class service for companies using temporary staffing services. This social enterpriseapproach

utilizes a unique, transitional job placement model, placing individuals who areableto work into selected jobs and providin g critical wrap-around support services, such as transportation and job coaching that increasejob retention. After a major expansion in

Atlanta in 2015, First Step became the largest, nonprofit temporary staffing agency in the country. With the recent replication efforts in Philadelphia, First Step will nearly doubleits mission-driven impact.