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First Step Staffing’s “Unusual Deal”

1/15/2018 |

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Harold Brubaker covered First Step Staffing’s acquisition of the Philadelphia operations of the for-profit company On Time Staffing, with the goal of using the staffing firm to employ homeless individuals and people recently released from prison.

“There are a lot of people who are homeless or have just gotten out of jail, or prison, and really want to work,” First Step chief executive Dave Shaffer said Thursday. “We’re the link to allow that to happen.”

Click here to read the article.

First Step acquires staffing business to serve homeless & returning citizens

1/11/2018 |

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 excited and eager to take our model – using a business approach to help solve a social 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 partner for the organizations and passionate individuals who are already working to help Philadelphia’s homeless men and women take steps toward financial sustainability.”

The Philadelphia acquisition was funded by philanthropic dollars, including a Catalyst Fund 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 Institution (“CDFIs”), including the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Reinvestment Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

Read more about First Step Staffing’s launch in Philadelphia here.

 

Innovating Intentionally

8/10/2017 |

Event Recap

Innovating Intentionally is a celebration of Barra’s grantees, a showcase of exciting innovations from our network and an opportunity for nonprofit leaders to connect across disciplines.

This year’s event was hosted on June 29th at the beautiful Barnes Foundation and featured several exciting innovations from our grantee network. Shelley Bernstein from the Barnes gave the keynote presentation. Shelley, who is Deputy Director for Digital Initiatives & Chief Experience Officer, described how the Barnes is using observation, pilot testing and evaluation to improve the visitor experience in a number of ways. She also shared some of the challenges and rewards related to recent projects as the organization shifts to visitor-centered thinking throughout its operation.

Tina Wahl, President of The Barra Foundation, reflected:

“A couple of weeks after the event, the leader of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, Corinne O’Connell, emailed us to ask for an introduction to Shelley at the Barnes. Corinne was excited to apply the museum’s ‘visitor-centered thinking’ to her work in housing and retail. Two weeks out and the presentation was still on her mind. To us, this is a strong signal that an event has been a success: this is exactly the kind of cross-sector inspiration that we aim to facilitate.”

Following the keynote, four grantee organizations presented Ignite-style presentations on projects that are leveraging technology to solve problems and seize opportunities in the fields of Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services. Ignite presentations are fun and fast: “Rapid five-minute presentations, accompanied by 20 slides ticking down at 15-second intervals, inspire the crowd with ingenuity, humor and imagination—ideas that are a call to action, that turn the past upside down, that point the way by which you help make a better future.” As always, the program was followed by a networking reception to reconnect, introduce and thank colleagues from Barra’s network.

Why Local Nonprofit Leaders Nominate Barra Awardees

12/16/2015 |

Generocity explored the “flow funding” aspect of the Foundation’s Barra Awards in a recent article. “It’s a creative and important way to engage nonprofits in supporting their peers and their work,” Wahl said. “We’re all doing this work together, and it’s a great way for some of the great problem solvers working in our community to support their colleagues also engaging in this important work.” Having last year’s winners select this year’s nominees is a design intended to reel in new organizations with fresh perspective. Read more.

Generocity, December 2015

Barra Awards $2M in Unrestricted Funding

12/16/2015 |

Philadelphia Business Journal covered the announcement of Barra’s 2016-2017 Barra Awards and its nomination process: “We put our trust in leaders on the ground to tell us which organizations are truly outstanding in their fields and making the greatest impact on their communities. Many of our nominators are past grantees themselves, which lets them contribute to the work of their peers and keeps our grantee community engaged and connected,” said Kristina Wahl, Barra President. Read more.

Philadelphia Business Journal, December 2015

Press Release: 2016-2017 Barra Awards Announced

12/16/2015 |

The Barra Foundation has announced $2 million in unrestricted funding for the recipients of its 2016‐2017 Barra Awards, which acknowledge and advance nonprofit organizations that exhibit exemplary leadership, performance and adaptability. Forty organizations will each receive $50,000 over a two‐year period. In addition, leaders of those organizations become members of a diverse network of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers. The awardees come from the Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services sectors in the Greater Philadelphia region.

“It was an honor to serve as a nominator and to take time to reflect on and recognize the exciting work that my peers are doing in the field,” said Amanda Jefferson, Executive Director of Summer Search Philadelphia. Summer Search was awarded a 2013-2014 Barra Award and Jefferson later served as a nominator for the 2016-2017 grant cycle. Read the complete Press Release.

Redefining Hospitality

11/30/2015 |

Broad Street Ministry has partnered with Steven Cook and Mike Solomonov of Zahav and Federal Donuts to establish a new eatery that, with every order, will help feed the needy. Profits from Rooster Soup Company will go to the Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative, which helps feed Philadelphia’s homeless. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Steven Cook noted “We work in hospitality full-time, but expanding the definition of what that means and whom it applies to is really important.” Adds Solomonov, “Chefs can’t just focus on the top tier.”

Wall Street Journal, November 2015 Grantee: Broad Street Ministry, 2013 Barra Awards

Videos: Innovating. Intentionally.

9/15/2015 |

In a series of Ignite-style presentations at an event on June 24, 2015 for grantees and others interested in innovation, Barra-funded change-makers Chip Linehan (Building 21), Cynthia Figueroa (Congreso de Latinos Unidos), Erin Bernard (History Truck),  Christine Simiriglia (Pathways to Housing PA) and Helen Eaton (Settlement Music School) provided updates on their work and talked about how they innovate with intentionality. Barra President Tina Wahl—also presenting Ignite-style—discussed how the work of these organization ties to Barra’s mission.

To learn more about the exciting work of these thought-leaders, view their presentation videos here:

  Chip Linehan            Cynthia Figueroa            Erin Bernard

Christine Simiriglia            Helen Eaton             Tina Wahl

Event Speakers Large

 

Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days

5/6/2015 |

Harvard Business Review spotlighted Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School in a recent issue dedicated to innovation. Founded in 1908, Settlement Music School is an historic institution that has deliberately embedded innovation into its organizational culture and programs. Even the best-designed programs can face challenges and Settlement shares how they self-assess and adapt. Click here to read their story and learn how to build your own innovation engine.

Harvard Business Review, December 2014 Grantee: Settlement Music School, 2013 Barra Awards

ACCESS Cards Connect Philadelphians to Art

2/13/2015 |

Generocity caught up with Art-Reach’s Melissa Roderman to learn how their innovative program makes art more accessible. “ACCESS Admission is Art-Reach’s latest initiative. It’s a way for us to more deeply engage individuals in the community who are facing financial adversity. The program is tailored to meet the needs of ACCESS Card holders,” said Melissa Roderman,  Art-Reach communications & engagement associate. “It breaks down a huge financial barrier that exists in engaging with the arts in our region, and it has the potential to serve a really large portion of our city’s population,” she added.

Click here to read the full story.
Generocity, December 2014 Grantee: Art-Reach, Catalyst Fund 2014

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