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Story of the Year

Helping Philadelphians find good job opportunities is a key component of Philadelphia LISC’s mission. To that end, in 2017 it provided a $1.2 million business loan to enable First Step Staffing to expand to Philadelphia. A nonprofit social enterprise based in Atlanta, First Step has a stellar track record in securing steady income for people transitioning out of homelessness, including veterans, people who have been incarcerated and others with significant barriers to employment.

In Philadelphia, where the poverty rate is the highest of the nation’s largest cities, First Step aims to employ 500 women and men experiencing homelessness in the first 12 months of operation and grow to serve more than 1,000 by year three. The agency provides wrap-around support services, such as job coaching and transportation, which increase job retention and support clients’ wellbeing.

This type of rapid employment program is new for Philadelphia, and it took a complex network of partners, including the City, philanthropies, and other leading homeless services providers, to bring First Step to Philadelphia.

First Step’s impressive record suggests that the work was well worth it: last year alone, in its home base of Atlanta, the organization helped 3,384 homeless or at-risk people find jobs. By employing men and women in warehouse, packaging, and manufacturing jobs, First Step will help meet the needs of Philadelphia employers and fuel local and regional economic development at the same time.

LISC’s investment was part of $4.85 million in loans from a total of four Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), an important link in a chain of financing that helped First Step acquire a Philadelphia-based staffing firm in 2017. By working together in this way, LISC and other CDFIs multiply their impact while reducing risk for each individual organization.

First Step has also found a welcoming home in the Kensington neighborhood, where LISC has long supported community revitalization, and the agency is housed in the building of Impact Services, a LISC partner dedicated to helping people with significant barriers to employment. Together, they are building on Impact’s legacy, and connecting people with the opportunity they need to succeed.

Photo credit: Courtesy First Step Staffing


Since 1981

$437 million
total investment

$1.5 billion

affordable homes
& apartments

2,296,973 sq. ft.
commercial &
community space

2017 Funders

Private Sector Support

Public Sector Support


Executive Director: Andrew Frishkoff

718 Arch Street, Suite 500-S
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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