First Step News

Atlanta-based First Step Staffing Expands into Philadelphia; Acquires Portion of On Time Staffing to form unique job training & placement for homeless and returning citizens

ATLANTA (January 10, 2018) — First Step Staffing, anonprofit 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 yearthree.

“We are honored by the warm and supportive welcome alreadyprovided by the city and look forward to making Philadelphiaourfirst replication location,” said Greg Block, First Step Founderand Chairman. “Our goal is to help thousands of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens gain sustainable employment, and eventually, apermanent residence. We believe asteady and sustainableincome is the only reliable path out of homelessness.”

First Step has acquired a portion of the Philadelphia-based division of On Time Staffing—afor-profit staffing company founded 18 years ago specializing in warehouse, packaging, and manufacturing jobs—which will now become part of First Step’s nonprofit operations. First Step will collaborate with On Time Staffing, the City of Philadelphia, and other local social service providers to transition the approximately 700 acquired staffing jobs to serve the region’s homeless and at-risk men and women. On Time Staffing’s operations outside of the Philadelphiametro region willremain unaffected and continue to operate underthe On Time Staffing family of brands.

“This transition allows us to give back in a more meaningful way and serve the community of associations and clients that allowed forthe tremendous growth overthe last two decades,” said Brian Kares, CEO of On Time Staffing.

First Step initially acquired afor-profit company in Atlantain 2015  and, since the expansion, has placed thousands of men and women into jobs–many of whom were then able to secure permanent housing within six months. In 2017 alone, First Step helped 3,384 homeless orat-risk individuals find jobs,with an average of 550 to 750 working on a daily basis. Clients are referred to First Step through othernonprofits and social service organizations. These men and women are then provided with wrap-around support services, such as job coaching and transportation, to increase job retention and  support theiroverall personalsuccess.

The Philadelphia acquisition was funded by philanthropicdollars, including asignificant grant from The Barra Foundation, support from the City of Philadelphia, investments by aconsortium of socially minded members of Investors’ Circle, and asenioracquisition loan from four Community Development Financial Institutions (“CDFIs”), including Nonprofit Finance Fund (“NFF”), Reinvestment Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

“First Step’s model stands out as an innovative, effective way to help level the playing field forpeople who face steep barriers to economicmobility,” said Norah McVeigh, Managing Directorof Financial Services at Nonprofit Finance Fund. “NFF is pleased to partnerwith this group of community lenders and First Step to create meaningful opportunities for people whose contributions oureconomy really needs.”

“When we saw the results First Step was achieving in Atlantaand heard they wanted to expand, we jumped at the chance to help bring this model to Philadelphia,” said Andy Rachlin, Managing Directorat Reinvestment Fund. “The amazing support they’ve received—not just from us and the rest of the community lending group, but from the City, philanthropy, and other leading homeless services providers in town—underscores what an important addition they are to our existing safety net.”

Global law firm Dentons provided pro bono legal services during the acquisition process, whileall funders have facilitated introductions to otherfunders, government officials, and human services organizations in Philadelphia. As First Step prepares to transition the newly acquired jobs, these partnerships willbe critical to ensuring the new candidates are work-ready and fully supported.

“We are excited and eagerto take our model – using a business approach to help solve asocial 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 partnerforthe organizations and passionate individuals who are already working to help Philadelphia’s homeless men and women take steps toward financial sustainability.”

Officials in Philadelphiahave been engaged and excited about the new opportunities and approach offered by First Step.

Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Directorof Health and Human Services, City of Philadelphia: “Homelessness remains an issue fortoo many of our men and women, but First Step’s commitment to employment and, eventually, housing is a step in the right direction.”

Tina Wahl, President of The Barra Foundation: “By purchasing a for-profit staffing company and converting it into a nonprofit with existing earned revenuestreams, First Step is taking afresh approach to combatting homelessness. This type of rapid employment forhomeless individuals does yet not exist in Philadelphiaand will be an important addition to the continuum of care.”

First Step Staffing Philadelphiawill be located at 1952  E Allegheny, Suite 500,  Philadelphia, PA 19134.


About First Step Staffing

Founded in 2007, First Step Staffing was designed to address a critical gap in homelessness services in metro Atlanta with a mission is to end homelessness by assisting peopleto secure income sufficient to maintain housing through. While focused on its mission,

First Step also aims to offer best in class service for companies using temporary staffing services. This social enterpriseapproach

utilizes a unique, transitional job placement model, placing individuals who areableto work into selected jobs and providin g critical wrap-around support services, such as transportation and job coaching that increasejob retention. After a major expansion in

Atlanta in 2015, First Step became the largest, nonprofit temporary staffing agency in the country. With the recent replication efforts in Philadelphia, First Step will nearly doubleits mission-driven impact.


About Investors’ Circle

Investors’ Circleis the world’s largest and most activeearly-stageimpact investing network. We have been finding, fostering, and funding startup innovation for over 25 years. It is a national community of angel investors, foundations, and family offices who have invested over $200 million into more than 300 enterprises dedicated to improving the environment, education, health, and community.  Investors’ Circle’s Philadelphia chapter is excited to support First Step’s entry to the Philadelphia market with loans of

$525,000. First Step’s business approach to providing jobs for Philadelphia’s at risk population resonates strongly with Investors Circle’s social impact mission.


About The Barra Foundation

The Barra Foundation invests in innovation to inspirechangethat strengthens communities in the Greater Philadelphia

region. Barra’s funding provides both risk capital and coresupport to acknowledge and advanceinnovation in our region. Thr ough its Catalyst Fund and Barra Awards, the Foundation provides approximately $4 million in grants annually that are focused in a nd

across the fields of Arts & Culture, Education, and Health and Human Services. For more information, visit


About the CDFI Investors

Nonprofit Finance Fund® (NFF®) advances missions and social progress in underserved communities through financing, consulting, partnerships, and knowledge-sharing that empower leaders, organizations, and ideas. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), NFF currently manages over $310 million. Since 1980, we have provided almost $700 million in financing and

access to additional capital in support of over $2.3 billion in projects for thousands of organizations nationwide.


The Reinvestment Fund’s mission is to build wealth and opportunity for low-wealth people and places through the promotion of

socially and environmentally responsibledevelopment. Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for changein low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-incomeneighborhoods. Using analytical and

financial tools, webring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productivelives.


Local Initiatives Support Corporation works with residents and partners to forge resilient and inclusivecommunities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. We focus on several strategies, including;

strengthening existing alliances whilebuilding new collaborations to increaseour impact on the progress of people and places ; developing leadership and the capacity of partners to advanceour work together; equipping talent in underinvested communities with the skills and credentials to compete successfully for quality incomeand wealth opportunities ; investing in businesses, housing and other community infrastructure to catalyzeeconomic, health, safety and educational mobility for individuals and communities; driving local, regional, and national policy and systemchanges that foster broadly shared prosperity and well -being.


Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation is Philadelphia’s public-privateeconomic development corporation. Our mission is to spur investment, support business growth, and foster developments that create jobs, revitalizeneighborhoods, and drivegr owth to every corner of Philadelphia. To achieveour mission weattract, manage, and invest public and privateresources in the clients, communities, and markets that energize Philadelphia’s economy.


Dentons Statement

Dentons is pleased to support First Step in its growth activities. First Step’s entrepreneurial vision for addressing homelessness fits well with Dentons community activities.


About On Time Staffing

Founded in 1999, On Time Staffing, LLC is a privately-held national onsiteworkforce management and temporary staffing services company headquartered in Cherry Hill , NJ. On Time Staffing specializes in providing thehighest quality staffing exclusively in the Light Industrial segment to Fortune 1000 companies. Associates work in three main areas: warehouse, packaging, and

manufacturing. For more information, visit


Media Contact: Amelia Nickerson, VP of Development and Community Relations, First Step Staffing,, (404)  276-5794.