Social Enterprise

The River Bakery

Launched in 2014 by The River Food Pantry, a nonprofit serving 600 Dane County families a week, The River Bakery provides job training opportunities for the pantry’s clients in an enterprise that produces quality desserts for groceries and other area stores.  In 2014, the bakery had $33,720 in sales and 11 program participants found employment. Read more about The River Bakery...

Life’sWork of Western PA

Based in Pittsburgh, Life’sWork of Western PA seeks to help people with disabilities and other employment barriers achieve independence and dignity through employment opportunities.  Founded in 1927, the nonprofit now serves over 2,000 people a year.  Its Business Services division provides janitorial, mailing, packaging assembly, and distribution services to area businesses, while providing training and employment opportunities for clients.  In 2013, its enterprises earned over $2 million, representing over 40 percent of its total $4.9 million in total revenues.

Idea Foundry’s InterSector Accelerator

Founded in 2012, InterSector Accelerator supports new social enterprise ventures through a twelve- to sixteen-week collaborative process focused on helping entrepreneurs validate their business model, make community connections, and discover market opportunities.  The Accelerator is part of Idea Foundry, a nonprofit innovation acceleration and commercialization organization founded in 2002 that now has 150 companies in its portfolio and is designed to catalyze high-potential, innovation-related jobs in the life sciences, entertainment and education, social enterprise, advanced materials, and water sectors.

Homefull Solutions, LLC

Homefull, a Dayton nonprofit working to end homelessness, established Homefull Solutions to help its clients gain the work experience necessary to secure employment with a livable income.  The social enterprise provides job training in landscaping/lawn care, apartment maintenance, vending machine operations, and micro-farming.  Through a partnership with the City of Dayton’s Southwest Priority Board, its landscaping enterprise also promotes neighborhood revitalization and beautification by providing regular upkeep around foreclosed and abandoned properties.  Farm training is based out of Homefull Micro-Farm, located right outside one of its men’s shelters, and also serves as a means to provide fresh, affordable food to community members who lack fresh food access.

PowerNet of Dayton

Founded in 2002, PowerNet of Dayton aims to improve Dayton neighborhoods by facilitating the social, economic, and political re-integration of formerly incarcerated members of the community and other citizens with felony records.  Key components of PowerNet’s program are social enterprises, which provide program participants with training and paid employment in repair and maintenance, grounds keeping, and janitorial industries.  Since 2009, PowerNet is credited with providing services to over 1,000 people.


Founded in Burlington in 1991, ReSource’s mission is to meet community and individual needs through (1) education and job skills training, (2) environmental stewardship, and (3) economic opportunities.  The nonprofit now operates four retail shops, which re-sell repaired household items and building materials that otherwise would have gone to the dump, and donates items to low-income individuals.  Through this work, it trains and provides job opportunities to disadvantaged youth and individuals who are homeless or unemployed, receive public assistance, or struggle with barriers to employment.  As of 2015, the nonprofit has trained over 750 individuals, donated goods to over 10,000 low-income people, and diverted more than 10,000 tons of materials from the landfill.

Good News Garage (GNG)

Good News Garage (GNG) is full-service Burlington-based garage that repairs cars and performs general car maintenance.  Revenues generated support GNG’s car donation program, which aims to create economic opportunity by repairing and then providing donated cars to people in need.  Since its establishment in 1996, GNG has awarded more than 4,000 reliable vehicles to individuals in the New England area.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.

Renaissance Construction Company

Renaissance Construction Company (RCC) provides at-risk populations with work experience in the construction field, including green construction and weatherization.  The company is an affiliate of Renaissance Community Development Corporation, a faith-based nonprofit organization focused on helping at-risk individuals and families gain the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and values necessary for a rewarding, productive lifestyle.  Working on projects across Newark, RCC services include demolition, painting, plumbing, weather audits, green construction, home inspection, electrical, framing, tiles, carpentry, drywall, and masonry.

The Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club

Owned and operated by New Community Corporation and located in a renovated church, The Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club aims to provide training and employment for NCC residents and graduates, all while keeping Newark's jazz roots alive and providing income to support the CDC.  In addition to its restaurant component, which specializes in Creole and Cajun cuisine, Priory features free jazz music on Friday evenings and has a catering business. Read more about The Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club...

Sustainable Community Initiatives

Sustainable Community Initiatives works to incubate and facilitate the growth of social enterprises and public education programs that are guided by environmental values, foster community sustainability, and leverage, impact and promote local value creation and investment.  One project it supports is Community Forklift, a nonprofit reuse center that collects unwanted and salvaged building materials throughout the metro DC region, sells them to the public at low cost, and distributes free supplies to local nonprofits and neighbors in need.  In recent years, it has also worked with other community partners to establish eco-focused job training programs.

The Reuse Marketplace at Rochester Greenovation

Rochester Greenovation works to reduce waste and associated costs by providing and promoting alternatives for reusable materials, educating the public about the value of such materials, teaching people how to use recycled goods for practical and creative purposes, and providing a building deconstruction and salvage service.  Its Reuse Marketplace sells upcycled and repurposed furniture, housewares, decor, art, building materials, and similar items. Read more about The Reuse Marketplace at Rochester Greenovation...

REDF (formerly Roberts Enterprise Development Fund)

REDF provides funding, business connections, and operational expertise to help develop social enterprises that employ those who face the greater barriers to employment. Since 1997, REDF has supported 50 social enterprises that have helped 9,500 people in California and generated millions of dollars for local communities. By 2015, REDF expects to help 2,500 more Californian join the workforce. To increase connections and learning among social enterprises, REDF launched the Social Enterprise for Jobs (SE4Jobs) Working Group in 2010, which now includes 300 social enterprise leaders and operators, consultants and support providers, employers, investors, and workforce partners.

Old Skool Café

Founded by a former juvenile corrections officer who felt the system did not provide enough supports to help troubled youth turn their lives around, Old Skool Café provides education and training to at-risk, urban youth aged 16-22.  The four-month program provides paid apprenticeships to youth at a 1940’s styled supper club, where participants gain marketable employment skills as hosts, servers, chefs, and entertainers. The enterprise also collaborates with other community organizations, businesses, and churches to provide youth with a web of support to ensure their success. Read more about Old Skool Café...

New Door Ventures

New Door Ventures prepares disconnected youth for work and life by providing skill-building, individual support, and paid internships that enable youth to discover and achieve their potential.  New Door runs two social enterprises—Ashbury Images, a screen printing and embroidery business, and Pedal Revolution, a bike shop—with the goal of being financially-sustaining while providing its youth clients with opportunities to succeed.  New Door also partners with over 40 businesses in the Bay Area to provide internships for additional youth.  In 2013, New Door provided 142 youth internships, and 99 percent of its graduates went on to new jobs or higher education.


Based in Indianapolis, RecycleForce is a nonprofit that provides low and no cost comprehensive recycling services across Indiana.  It sells the scrap metals and other reusable materials that it collects, and uses the revenues to support job training programs, employment opportunities, and supportive services for formerly incarcerated men and women.  With a staff of two when the enterprise opened in 2006, it now has 125 hourly workers and 20 salaried staff, and is credited with processing more than 28 million pounds of material since its inception.  In 2013, the enterprise generated over $6 million in revenue, of which 31 percent came from recycling sales.

Rebuilding the Wall

Founded in 2001, Rebuilding the Wall rehabs vacant inner-city homes and sells them at below-market prices to low-income families.  The work is completed by volunteers and its own construction crew, RtW Construction, which aims to create quality jobs for community residents.  The social enterprise also provides affordable home repair services to generate additional revenues to support its rehab work. Read more about Rebuilding the Wall...

Kheprw Institute

Established in 2004, Kheprw Institute is a community empowerment center in downtown Indianapolis focused on helping youth and adults realize their full potentials and make positive contributions to the community.  Key to the Institute’s approach are its four social enterprises, which aim to help youth become self-driven and passionate social entrepreneurs. Read more about Kheprw Institute...