Social Enterprise

An Indigenous Approach to Community Wealth Building: A Lakota Translation

Stephanie Gutierrez

Drawing on the work done in the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, Stephanie Gutierrez explores how a systemic approach to inclusive local economic development needs a process of active translation to resonate with the traditional values at the core of Native communities.

Challenge Workforce Solutions

Founded in 1968, Challenge Workforce Solutions helps people with disabilities or barriers access employment.  The nonprofit provides job seekers with training and comprehensive supports, and then connects them to job opportunities at local businesses or within one of its four social enterprises:  Challenge Commercial Cleaning, Challenge Contract Staffing, Challenge Imaging (scanning services), and Challenge Contract Production.  In 2016, Challenge supported 1,200 people, and its social enterprises generated 56 percent of its total revenue.

Solutions for Change

Solutions for Change strives to permanently solve homelessness for San Diego County families.  To do so, the nonprofit catalyzed Solutions University, a leadership development residential program for homeless families that includes supportive housing, life skill training, workforce development, counseling, health services, and youth-focused programming.  To help fund these services while providing training and employment opportunities, Solutions for Change operates social enterprises, including New Solutions Housing (multifamily property management and maintenance services), New Solutions Real Estate Development (housing construction), and Solutions Farms (an aquaponics farm growing sustainable produce).  Since its establishment in 1999, the nonprofit has helped 850 families transition out of homelessness.

Rise Up Industries

Rise Up Industries helps reduce gang involvement by providing integrated gang prevention, gang intervention, and post-detention reentry programs.  Modeled after Los Angeles’ Homeboy Industries, Rise Up Industries provides high-risk, formerly gang-involved individuals with a continuum of free services and programs, including job training through its social enterprises.  Enterprises include a venture that roasts and sells fair-traded coffee, a screen printing and embroidery business, and a machine shop.

Mission Edge

Mission Edge provides San Diego nonprofit and social enterprises with the resources and knowledge needed to make their business processes easier and maximize their social impact.  Services provided include accounting and other finance-related supports, HR administration and support, leadership development, and fiscal sponsorship.  Through its Social Enterprise Accelerator & Impact Lab (SAIL), Mission Edge also offers a 14-week program designed to help area nonprofits and purpose-driven businesses operate more effectively and efficiently, and develop sustainable business models based on earned revenue.  Since its establishment in 2012, Mission Edge has supported 175 groups.

Kitchens for Good

Guided by a mission to break the cycles of food waste, hunger, and poverty, Kitchens for Good rescues surplus and cosmetically imperfect food from wholesalers and farmers and runs a culinary apprenticeship initiative that uses these ingredients to create nutritious meals for food-insecure families.  The program is credited with creating 50,000 nutritious meals and training 90 people annually.  To generate revenue to support the nonprofit’s job training program, students also provide catering and contract meal services, and produce and sell savory spreads.  Nearly 70 percent of the nonprofit’s budget is generated through these entrepreneurial activities.

Creating an Ecosystem of Opportunity on Pine Ridge

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (TVCDC) is a Lakota led non-profit based in the Thunder Valley community of the Porcupine District on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2017. For the last five years, TVCDC has participated in and co-created the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, alongside The Democracy Collaborative, the Northwest Area Foundation and four other Native American community-based organizations, to develop and work through strategies that build and root wealth locally for the benefit of their community.   Read more about Creating an Ecosystem of Opportunity on Pine Ridge...

PAR-Recycle Works

PAR-Recycle Works is a nonprofit electronics recycler that provides transitional employment to people returning from prison.  Revenues generated through its e-recycling services are used to help formerly incarcerated individuals rebuild their lives through employment, character development, and other services.  PAR-Recycle Works provides training and employment to 6-8 people at a time, who spend 6-9 months with the nonprofit.

Green City Works

Launched by University City District as a way to create job opportunities and beautify University City, Green City Works is a social enterprise that provides landscaping services to University City’s institutions and businesses.  Committed to eco-friendly practices, Green City Works never uses chemical fertilizers, produces and uses compost from local organic waste, plants native perennials, and sources materials from local growers and producers.  The enterprise’s landscaping crew includes 10 people, all of whom receive higher than average pay, benefits, and full-time work.

Urban Ministry’s WE Community Café

Founded in 1976, Urban Ministry is a faith-based nonprofit striving to help Birmingham’s West End community thrive.  To help residents access fresh, organic produce and provide area youth with fair-wage jobs, Urban Ministry partnered with Church Without Walls in 2008 to create the WE Community Gardens.  Today, the garden produces about 3,500 pounds of food on an annual basis—2,000 pounds of which are donated to those in need with the remainder sold at affordable rates at community markets.  Some of the produce is also used at Urban Ministry’s WE Community Café, which serves quality, healthy food while providing job training and employment opportunities for youth who are chronically unemployed or underemployed.  Patrons are asked to pay what they can, and those who cannot pay can volunteer instead.  Revenues from the Gardens and Café help support the nonprofit’s programs.