39 Days of IDEAS | Day 12: Scaling a sustainable back-to-work model

First Step Staffing already won a Nonprofit Revolution Award in 2011, when it was pioneering a novel way to secure sustainable income for people without homes. Their new idea, business acquisition, is set to replicate their impact in cities across the U.S.

Now in its eighth year, First Step Staffing is a refined, tested, and proven model providing 100 jobs a day in Atlanta. President and CEO Barbara Peters says their latest idea is set to increase that impact 14-fold.

“After applying a multi-year method of testing, learning and refining, we’re ready to scale,” said Peters. Their big idea: using a business acquisition approach to bypass the years-long process of growing a business on their own. They’ve begun the acquisition process in Atlanta, and are working to engage “social investors” in Georgia, New York, Massachusetts, and California. As of July, they’ve secured more than $1.4 million of their $2 million target.

The goal is to buy successful businesses in 13 more cities, and use them to replicate the FSS model employing homeless men and women, those at risk for homelessness, and unemployed veterans. “Florida is a likely site: it has a strong business need for good workers, and a large proportion of veterans,” said Peters. “We are currently working closely with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness to determine how we can help them implement our model.”


Each quarter, Georgia Nonprofit NOW delivers the practical know-how, thought-leader insight, sector news, and community updates you need to be a High Performance nonprofit professional. Become a GCN member, and get the only magazine devoted entirely to the Georgia nonprofit sector, delivered straight to your mailbox and available online. 

The Georgia Nonprofit NOW team: Betsy Reid, Editor-in-Chief: Marc Schultz, Managing Editor; and Tom Zimmerman, Community Editor 

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