Esperanza Unida was founded in 1971 to help Milwaukee residents become self-sufficient and bring greater prosperity to the Milwaukee South Side. To do so, the nonprofit group ran training programs in such areas as auto repair and sales, welding, metal fabrication and construction that doubled as businesses, and then used earned revenues to fund its operations. For decades, the organization was a national social enterprise leader, helping over 2,300 people obtain jobs and grossing over $2 million in earned income annually from business operations. But since long-time director Richard Oulahan left suddenly due to a brain aneurysm in 2005, the organization has struggled, resulting in both major program cuts and a sizeable debt overhang. A restructuring effort under way aims to dispose of assets to pay off the debts and stabilize operations.